Fuelled by the Minerals Council of Australia and the Institute of Public Affairs, a handful of politicians are attacking civil society. They want to revoke the charity status of environment groups, remove our ability to receive tax deductible donations and curtail your freedom to speak out.
We ask all governments and all political parties to make better choices for the environment. I’m proud of that.
Sometimes our questions are inconvenient, but they’re essential. Because people who care speak out, kids can snorkel the Reef with no oil rigs. The Franklin River flows. Fish and birds are returning to Murray floodplains. Our cars don’t run on leaded petrol. Our air is cleaner and our cities greener. Australians value these things.
We have until next Thursday 21 May to make submissions to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on the Environment inquiry into environmental organisations.
The way the inquiry’s terms of reference are worded, it sounds like planting trees is okay, but asking a company or the government to stop clearfelling old-growth forest is not. Picking up rubbish is okay, but asking companies to stop polluting is not. It doesn’t make sense.
Will you make a submission to the inquiry? We’ve given you a template submission to get started – you can make it more powerful by rewriting it in your own words. Don’t be silenced. Please make a submission today.
Morning Mist, Rock Island Bend, Franklin River, Southwest Tasmania. Photograph by Peter Dombrovskis, copyright Liz Dombrovskis
We know protecting the environment has broad public support, and with your help, we can prove it. If thousands of ACF supporters make submissions, and all our allies do the same, the groundswell of people who care will show just how marginal this idea is.
Like many non-government organisations in civil society, 90% of ACF’s funding comes from donations from people like you. You trust us to spend that money in service of our purpose – protecting the environment. You trust us to make strategic decisions about what is really needed to achieve this goal.
With your help, ACF revealed the Prime Minister’s bid to de-list Tassie forests World Heritage status. We exposed Australia’s top ten biggest polluters and their political donations. We’re challenging leaders to make better choices.
Make a submission to the inquiry before the deadline next week.
The inquiry challenges advocacy. Environmental advocacy simply means influencing decision-making to protect life and the people, plants and animals that are part of it. This may mean generating public awareness, encouraging our members to participate in democracy and calling for better laws.
Advocacy tackles the big things – it paves the way for large-scale systemic change. It creates the funding and policies that enable hands-on nature conservation work. It is not unlawful or inconsistent with being a charity. Australia’s High Court clearly supported this argument. Protecting the environment is soundly based in charitable law.
The inquiry is starting with small environment groups, but the push threatens larger groups like ACF, the whole environment movement, and all of civil society. Coalition MP George Christensen, the member for Dawson in north Queensland, called this process “cleansing.”
Civil society organisations like ACF amplify the voices of our members and those who can’t speak out. Democracy is as strong and vibrant as we make it. Normally, we ask you to speak out for the environment. Today, you can speak out for your ability to speak out.
Will you make it clear you don't support attacks on environmental organisations?
Joan Staples, Step by step, conservative forces move to silence NGOs' voices, The Conversation.
Peter Burdon, Government inquiry takes aim at green charities that “get political, The Conversation.
Mike Seccombe, Brandis ties NGO funding to non-advocacy The Saturday Paper.
Liberal MP moves to strip charity status from some environmental groups, ABC News.
Government MP steps up campaign against eco-charity tax concessions, ABC News.