Friday, 26 May 2017

Government Overreach

Speech is Free, Only When the Bureaucrats Approve

Oh, what a silly mess we have made for ourselves.  Apparently it is not kosher to be a registered charity in New Zealand and also be involved in political advocacy.  As soon as a charity calls upon the state to take a certain course of action or dole out money for this or that cause, or the Parliament is pressured by a charity to legislate in a certain way, it ceases to be a charity.  Well, it ought to be de-registered as a charity, apparently.

Maybe not.  Around about this point, these "positions" of the government's Charities Services begin to experience the deaths of a thousand qualifications, carve outs, "on the other hands" and "maybes".   It all began when the DIA Charities Services threatened to de-registered Family First as a charity.   According to a report in the NZ Herald:

Family First is set to lose its charitable status, the Herald has exclusively learned.  The group was first notified by the Charities Registration Board in 2013 that its charitable status was in danger.  That was because the group advocated a controversial point of view, that was seen as lobbying for a political purpose.  The decision was challenged in court, and in 2015 the High Court ordered the Board to reconsider its decision.  The High Court decision did not rule on whether or not Family First was a charity.  The Herald understands that decision has now been reconsidered, and that the formal notification process is underway to tell Family First it is being deregistered as a charity.
Deregistration means that donors to Family First will no longer be able to claim tax exemptions for their donations.  This places a considerable impediment to an organization like Family First which relies almost exclusively upon voluntary donations and gifts to continue its work.

Family First has had the heat put upon it by the government's Charities Services because its position was considered to be controversial.   It was advocating positions which were deemed to be offensive and discriminatory.  Really extreme positions.  Such as, we hear you ask?  Well, the benighted idea that marriage should be restricted to a union between a man and woman for one.  And, the accursed idea that multiple gender identity was a figment of the imagination, for another.

Advocacy of such horrific and extreme positions placed Family First in the same category as a White Supremacist Nazi Party, or a voluntary society calling for armed revolution or the assassination of the Prime Minister.  The sniffy folk at Charities Services decided that Family First was an extremist organization and should be silenced.

Court action will be ongoing.
Family First national director Bob McCoskrie said they'd be going straight to their legal team and instructing them to take the matter back to court.  "It may go as high as Supreme Court, because we're not going to lie down on this one.  It should be disturbing to all New Zealanders that a charity that researches and speaks up on an issue, which is deemed incorrect by the political elite, is in danger of being penalised.

"I'm sure there'll be some people celebrating the fact that Family First is going to be deregistered.  My warning to them is that one day a Government that disagrees with their view may come gunning for them."  McCoskrie said lobbying was part of their work, and didn't stop them from also being a charity.
Now, of course, there are plenty of charities--duly registered with the government's Charities Services--which retain their tax exemptions, but which advocate on issues which are "acceptable" to the folk at Charities Services.  In their case the advocacy is deemed to be a "public service".  When a registered charity advocates for government to relieve child poverty, the Charities Services give solemn thanks to Gaia that such noble charities exist in our land.  At such occasions the bureaucrats piously see themselves as performing a vital public service.

McCoskrie again:
"The problem is the Charities Board is not being consistent, because if it was, there'd be a whole lot of other groups that should be panicking."  McCoskrie said they were fighting the decision on principle, as being deregistered as a charity wouldn't stop their work.
It is a rich irony that multi-century charities such as the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals ("SPCA") began their lives focused upon changing the policies of governments of the day in the United Kingdom so as to pass legal protections for animals.  It still does.  But, according to the Charities Services, it should be stricken from the list of charities in New Zealand.  Except it isn't.  Why?  Because, at least for the moment, the bureaucrats have determined that its "advocacy" of government policies are kosher.

Every charity worth the name will end up some time in its life advocating for its interests before government committees, or before the Parliament.  Time, then, for the Charities Services to be disbanded, and lose its cosseted, protected, governmental status--and be universally condemned for its vast PC overreach.

No comments: