web analytics

Greenpeace – working for others.

Written By: - Date published: 3:02 pm, September 4th, 2012 - 13 comments
Categories: campaigning, Environment, law, political alternatives, Politics, the praiseworthy and the pitiful - Tags: , ,

Today Greenpeace will be in the Court of Appeal to challenge the interpretation of the High Court or what is a charitable purpose.  Bunny McDiarmid at the Greenpeace blog  has a pretty good post on it “Charity or not, Greenpeace is here to stay“.

This month another principle is at stake. We’re in the Court of Appeal challenging the decision to decline Greenpeace charitable status under the ‘new’ Charities law passed in 2005. Central to this is free speech, or a so-called ‘political exception’ which stops charities from engaging in what the government may think is political advocacy, or challenging the status quo.

Whether we are successful or not in gaining charitable status, Greenpeace will continue to work in the same manner as we always have. Backed by nearly 60,000 kiwis, we will remain strictly non-party political, staunchly independent and we will continue fighting non-violently for good environmental outcomes and peace with every means at our disposal.

I was thinking this through as a diversion after a long and unproductive session session contemplating how inept the Labour caucus has been. It was rather pleasant to look at an organisation that had a clear vision, bloody good communications, was competent, and above all actually appeared to care about what they stand for.  So I dug around a bit looking at what a charity is.

The  compliance FAQ for charities is quite clear. This link starts from the legal background and has a link to the definitions of “charitable purpose” which explains some of the legal interpretations that evolved from the Elizabethan law. But the kicker for this case is in the sidelink “Political activities and registration under the Charities Act

Many charitable entities registered by the Charities Commission undertake political activities in order to achieve their charitable purposes. As long as the organisation’s main purposes remain charitable, the use of political activities to achieve these purposes is unlikely to disqualify the organisation from registration.

The Commission acknowledges the valuable contribution that charitable entities can make to public debates – for example, a charitable entity may be the only organisation to represent the needs of a group of disadvantaged people. In addition, it is clear that the input of charitable entities may be able to resolve recurring problems in their particular fields.

The Commission understands that charitable entities may be more likely to undertake political activities at certain times. For example, entities may undertake more political activities in an election year or if Parliament is considering, or is about to consider, a piece of legislation which relates to the entity’s operations.

The Commission is only likely to question whether a charitable entity is continuing to meet registration requirements if its political activities have assumed a level of importance that appears to indicate that they have become independent purposes in themselves. In these circumstances, the Commission will inform the charitable entity that no longer appears to have exclusively charitable purposes.

Back to the Bunny.

In the eyes of the law Greenpeace’s environmental purposes are judged to be charitable as they benefit the community, as does our promotion of peace, but promoting disarmament is not. It is deemed to be too political.

Now that is a really arbitrary line that is being drawn. Advocating for peace is a valid charitable purpose, but advocating for removing arms for the purposes of peace is not? WTF..

Under the new charity law you can do some political ‘advocacy’ work in the form of promoting or challenging environmental policies or laws. However, too much advocacy, will be risky, particularly if it is critical of the status quo. But how much is too much is not clear. This creates a dilemma for some charities because if they overstep this indistinct line, they risk losing government funding linked to their charitable status.

Greenpeace does not seek or accept money from the Government (or business) so nothing will change for us in that respect, but the potential effect on debate for those that do, is a real and chilling possibility.

We want to see New Zealand more in line with Australia which allows charities freedom of expression in political debate as long as it is consistent with their charitable purposes. We reckon that the Aussies are right; engaging in political debate is an essential part of advocacy work, it’s very much in the public interest and an essential part of a modern democracy.

I agree. Time to shift the law so it allows that to happen.

What is pleasant is an organisation willing to take the expense to take a case to appeal and in all likelihood to a further appeal to the Supreme Court to establish a legal precedent that is more important to the myriads of smaller charities out there than to them. These range from activist groups like us (not that we really need a charity status for our trust), churches, poverty groups, through to people who advocate against Greenpeace like some of the climate change deniers.

And no. I don’t exert effort or even funds supporting them. Lyn does. I might have to join her.

13 comments on “Greenpeace – working for others. ”

  1. BernyD 1

    So they get retrospectively taxed because they stepped on toes.
    Just another stick to threaten people with.

  2. Blue 2

    No they get retrospectively taxed because they are a Multinational Corporate Giant making millions. No different to any other, except they wear a charitable facade.

    • lprent 2.1

      Apart from GST and other sales taxes – how does a non-profit organisation get taxed? If you don’t make a profit then you don’t get taxed on the profit.

      Still a pathetic dickhead I see – even after your long break…

      • Fortran 2.1.1

        The ability to “Not make a profit” is not difficult at all.
        As a not for profit organisation no proper audits are necessary.
        Have you never heard of Head Office expenses overseas – the Aussie Banks all do it as a way to reduce their whatever liabilities in New Zealand.
        Of every dollar give to Greenpeace a fixed portion (40% I think) is automatically channeled offshore.
        I have asked often for a copy of the accounts, before subscribing, and have been told there are none available.

        • lprent

          As a not for profit organisation no proper audits are necessary.

          Complete and utter bullshit. I’ve done work around a number of medium to large not-for-profit’s at various times as well as a few smaller ones especially when I was doing system support decades ago. Their accounting practices are more pedantic and nit-picky than most of the for-profit’s for the obvious reason that they’re usually a damn sight shorter on reliable income and they are directly accountable to the regulatory body that gives them whatever status they have. I’ve often worked with their auditors and helped when they have had the IRD or charities commission or even WINZ or the lotteries board peering at their transactions.

          Head Office expenses

          Which is still not a “profit”. If a organisation is using services from another part of the same organisation like their management, computers, lawyers, accountants, funds, etc then they are usually expected to pay for those services as expenses.

          The legislation, IRD, auditors, stakeholders, various accountants, and lawyers set what is permissible to expense to parent organisations based on actual usage of resources regardless of what type of organisation it is. There are whole frigging areas of accounting and law devoted to the topic of allocating overhead expenses.

          Profit is what is made AFTER expenses.

          There is a particular area that you are probably straining towards is that the NZ Greenpeace will be contributing towards campaigns that are run outside of NZ like the rainbow warrior and the like. Well duh! That is what they are set up to do. The purposes of any organisation especially trusts and charities are set in their charters or other binding documents. If you want to know what they are not permitted to do, then read them, some of the law binding the organisation, whatever the IRD and/or other regulatory bodies state they must do, and whatever documents that they are required to make public.

          Or even better in this case just read the greenpeace website which is pretty clear about what they do. I can’t be arsed to look up the link – it is kind of hard to miss.

          I suspect you have bugger all idea what in the hell goes on at the accounting levels of ANY organisation. Moreover I suspect that like the many of the supremely confident but terminally ignorant you are projecting what you’d like to happen legally rather than what is actually set down in law. Rather than exerting effort to find out, you make inane comments so people who do make the effort educate you.

          A lazy wishful thinking fool in other words…

          Typically at this point I’ll hear some whining about how nasty I am.. 😈 But I really like putting the effort in to make the lesson stick. It is fun for me…

    • mike e 2.2

      Yeah right Blue its just a bullying tactic to silence a very big thorn in the side of big corporates and their pathetic little trolling yes men who can only follow and never lead except when theirs money in it.

  3. ghostwhowalksnz 3

    Arent they a ‘non profit’ ? So I dont think they pay tax on ‘profits’ anyway.

    IRD : A non-profit organisation is any society, association or organisation (incorporated or not):
    that is not carried on for the profit or gain of any member, and whose rules do not allow money, property or any other benefit to be distributed to any of its members.

    The Charity status is all about getting donations from supporters to be tax deductible for the donor.

    A little bit of honesty about the real purposes of the court appeal wouldnt go astray ?

    And this from IRD is interesting.
    “However, if a charity runs a business, it may not be liable for income tax on any profits that it uses for charitable purposes within New Zealand.”

    • lprent 3.1

      I didn’t put it in the post however the post (and press release) state this at the base

      NOTE: GREENPEACE has not lost its donee status which allows our supporters to make tax deductable donations. The IRD determines if organisations meet the test for donee status while the Department of Internal Affairs determines which organisations meet the criteria for charitable status.

      • ghostwhowalksnz 3.1.1

        So they want to get tax free profits from their businesses then. There doesnt seem to be a point to the expensive court battle ?

  4. fnjckg 4

    Wow! a multitude of mesmerizing articles in todays Standard
    (faster broadband, faster faster)

  5. xtasy 5

    How bizarre – “The Elizabethan Statute” or what it is called.

    So promoting religion and public prayer qualifies?

    Greenpeace are clearly advancing education by informing about environmental issues and dangers, and they are wanting to protect the environment, which is beneficial to the community. They are also not politically aligned, nor do they put a political agenda forward, as they do not bind themselved to any party or political organisation.

    As much as many churches and other religions organisations may offer charitable services, some also are good at getting money out of members, like the Mormons do with their 10 per cent tithing, which partly goes into advancing their church and building more churches, propagating their interpretation of religion and sending out missionaries to “convert” more.

    Yet that is accepted as a “charitable” organisation, as the register tells me.

    It sounds more like legalistic hair splitting, to create more problems for Greenpeace, as the government and they “system” it upholds consider them a “thorn in their side”.

    Maybe just start “prayer meetings” before and after activities? Bang, “charitable purpose”, and you should likely “qualify”.

  6. captain hook 6

    so far greenpeace is the only organisation that sticks up for the trees and the whales while the rest of the world indulges itself in a frenzy of external referencing by psychological comparisons of the size of its car to the size of its dick.
    greenpeace needs every penny to combat the destruction of the planet by pinheads.

  7. lprent 7

    As a side issue. We’re getting some greenpeace banners coming through. I approved them the other day which is why I was poking around the greenpeace site yesterday. And I see that they are there this morning.

    They are freebies ads filling otherwise unused advert space.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Tokelau Language Week reminds us to stay united and strong
    Staying strong in the face of challenges and being true to our heritage and languages are key to preserving our cultural identity and wellbeing, is the focus of the 2020 Tokelau Language Week. Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio, says this year’s theme, ‘Apoapo tau foe, i nā tāfea ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • NZ announces a third P-3 deployment in support of UN sanctions
    The Government has deployed a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion (P-3) maritime patrol aircraft to support the implementation of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions imposing sanctions against North Korea, announced Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters and Minister of Defence Ron Mark. “New Zealand has long supported ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Pacific trade and development agreement a reality
    Pacific regional trade and development agreement PACER Plus will enter into force in 60 days now that the required eight countries have ratified it. Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker welcomed the announcement that the Cook Islands is the eighth nation to ratify this landmark agreement. “The agreement represents ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Securing a pipeline of teachers
    The Government is changing its approach to teacher recruitment as COVID-19 travel restrictions continue, by boosting a range of initiatives to get more Kiwis into teaching. “When we came into Government, we were faced with a teacher supply crisis,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. “Over the past three years, we ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Border exceptions for a small number of international students with visas
    The Government has established a new category that will allow 250 international PhD and postgraduate students to enter New Zealand and continue their studies, in the latest set of border exceptions. “The health, safety and wellbeing of people in New Zealand remains the Government’s top priority. Tight border restrictions remain ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • First COVID-19 vaccine purchase agreement signed
    The Government has signed an agreement to purchase 1.5 million COVID-19 vaccines – enough for 750,000 people – from Pfizer and BioNTech, subject to the vaccine successfully completing all clinical trials and passing regulatory approvals in New Zealand, say Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods and Health Minister Chris Hipkins. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • International statement – End-to-end encryption and public safety
    We, the undersigned, support strong encryption, which plays a crucial role in protecting personal data, privacy, intellectual property, trade secrets and cyber security.  It also serves a vital purpose in repressive states to protect journalists, human rights defenders and other vulnerable people, as stated in the 2017 resolution of the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Ministry of Defence Biodefence Assessment released
    The Ministry of Defence has today released a Defence Assessment examining Defence’s role across the spectrum of biological hazards and threats facing New Zealand. Biodefence: Preparing for a New Era of Biological Hazards and Threats looks at how the NZDF supports other agencies’ biodefence activities, and considers the context of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Approaches to Economic Challenges: Confronting Planetary Emergencies: OECD 9 October 2020
    New Approaches to Economic Challenges: Confronting Planetary Emergencies: OECD 9 October 2020 Hon David Parker’s response following Thomas Piketty and Esther Duflo. Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening, wherever in the world you might be. I first acknowledge the excellent thought provoking speeches of Thomas Piketty and Esther ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Kaipara Moana restoration takes next step
    A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed today at Waihāua Marae between the Crown, local iwi and councils to protect, restore and enhance the mauri of Kaipara Moana in Northland. Environment Minister David Parker signed the document on behalf of the Crown along with representatives from Ngā Maunga Whakahī, Ngāti ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand and Uruguay unite on reducing livestock production emissions
    Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Uruguayan Minister of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries Carlos María Uriarte have welcomed the launch of a three-year project that will underpin sustainable livestock production in Uruguay, Argentina, and Costa Rica.  The project called ‘Innovation for pasture management’ is led by Uruguay’s National Institute of Agricultural ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • 3100 jobs created through marae upgrades
    Hundreds of marae throughout the country will be upgraded through investments from the Provincial Growth Fund’s refocused post COVID-19 funding to create jobs and put money into the pockets of local tradespeople and businesses, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta have announced. “A total ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Health volunteers recognised in annual awards
    Health Minister Chris Hipkins has announced 9 teams and 14 individuals are the recipients of this year’s Minister of Health Volunteer Awards.  “The health volunteer awards celebrate and recognise the thousands of dedicated health sector volunteers who give many hours of their time to help other New Zealanders,” Mr Hipkins ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Community COVID-19 Fund supports Pacific recovery
    The Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio says a total of 264 groups and individuals have successfully applied for the Pacific Aotearoa Community COVID-19 Recovery Fund, that will support Pacific communities drive their own COVID-19 recovery strategies, initiatives, and actions. “I am keen to see this Fund support Pacific ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Community benefits from Māori apprenticeships
    Up to 50 Māori apprentices in Wellington will receive paid training to build houses for their local communities, thanks to a $2.75 million investment from the Māori Trades and Training Fund, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “This funding will enable Ngāti Toa Rangatira Incorporated to provide its Ngā Kaimahi ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Training fund supports Māori jobseekers
    Rapidly growing sectors will benefit from a $990,000 Māori Trades and Training Fund investment which will see Wellington jobseekers supported into work, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “This funding will enable Sapphire Consultants Ltd. to help up to 45 Māori jobseekers into paid training initiatives over two years through ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Ruakura Inland Port development vital infrastructure for Waikato
    The Government is investing $40 million to develop an inland port at Ruakura which will become a freight super-hub and a future business, research and residential development for the Waikato, Urban Development and Transport Minister Phil Twyford, and Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced today. The funding has been has ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Appointments made to Defence Expert Review Group
    Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today the establishment of an Expert Review Group to review a number of aspects of the New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF) structure, information management and record-keeping processes.  The Expert Review Group’s work arises out of the first recommendation from the Report of the Government’s Inquiry ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • No active community cases of COVID-19
    There are no active community cases of COVID-19 remaining in the country after the last people from the recent outbreak have recovered from the virus, Health Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “This is a big milestone. New Zealanders have once again through their collective actions squashed the virus. The systems ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago