Australia’s ruling Liberal Party targets environmental groups

Activist charities targeted http://www.examiner.com.au/story/2382849/activist-charities-targeted/?cs=95 By MATT MALONEY June 28, 2014,

The Liberal Party’s Federal Council on Friday night unanimously endorsed a policy motion put up by Bass Liberal MHR Andrew Nikolic to remove consumer and competition law exemptions for eco-charities. He argued that environmental groups should be treated the same as corporations under the act, and that tax deductibility for donations and reduced fees for court action should be removed.

He said there were 583 approved environmental groups under the act, and 13 of these were allowed to receive tax-deductible donations. “I am seeking to remove exemptions so environment groups are not above the law,” Mr Nikolic said. “Part of taking this forward now requires ministers in the state and federal government to act together to remove the exemption.”

Mr Nikolic’s motion follows moves by the state government to repeal the Tasmanian forest peace deal and clamp down on forest protesters through tough new laws involving hefty fines and three-month mandatory prison sentences.

Wilderness Society spokesman Vica Bayley said the latest move would not only hit community groups but the industry groups that the government had pledged to protect.“The Liberals have torn down the only collaborative and constructive thing going and replaced it with draconian measures,” Mr Bayley said.

“It’s a backward step and demonstrates that they believe that their policies will fail and the state will descend back into conflict.”

He said amendments to consumer and competition law would increase the level of controversy and contention in forestry in Tasmania as the government would be seen as one that wanted to block dissenting voices.

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