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Taxpayers subsidising ‘charities’ in global warming debate

By Gary Johns - posted Friday, 20 November 2015

Australians subsidise those who would harm them.

Two charities, among many, purposely set out to harm other Australians. The Australian Conservation Foundation has vowed to take Adani to court to prevent its Carmichael coalmine from proceeding, thus denying any and all users of coal its considerable benefits. Lock the Gate Alliance has set out to deny Australians access to gas from fracking sources, thus denying any and all users its considerable benefits. How organisations that deliberately set out to harm others are charitable, and are granted the privilege of charitable status, is beyond me.

The respective charities’ propositions about coal and climate change, and fracking gas and water pollution, are highly contestable. Yet governments grant charitable status to organisations that campaign for one point of view, views that many Australians would reject vehemently.


As Bjorn Lomborg pointed out in The Weekend Australian, the difference in the world’s temperature in 2100 between a do-nothing scenario and the Paris promises, which may include switching from coal, is 0.05C.

Others, for example, at Climate Spectator, accuse Lomborg of ignoring China’s pledge to cap its emissions by 2030. The debate about climate change responses is highly contested.

The problem is the ACF is a charity and Lomborg is not.

The taxpayer should not be subsidising one side of the debate by granting charity status to a political association, in this case, the ACF. It is arguable the ACF is harming Australians and, indeed, the environment.

Richard Cottee, managing director of Central Petroleum, gave an inspired speech to the Australian Institute for Progress in Brisbane last week about the development of fracking gas. Cottee regards opponents of fracking as frackwits.

He made the point, confirmed by others, that by 2017 NSW will be short of gas. NSW produces only 5 per cent of its gas. Most comes from South Australia and Victoria. Between selling gas internationally and failing to search for new fields in NSW, NSW consumers will face higher prices and shortages.


Demand for gas will decline because of supply shortage (and price rises), leading to the bizarre outcome (for environmentalists) that electricity generation will swing back to coal.

There is a new source of gas supply, the Northern Territory. Earlier this week the Territory government announced the winning tender to build the North East Gas Interconnector.

This will link Northern Territory gas producers to major domestic markets in NSW, Queensland and Victoria.

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This article was first published in The Australian.

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About the Author

Gary Johns is a former federal member of Parliament and served as a minister in the Keating Government. Since December 2017 he has been the commissioner of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission.

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