Monday, 9 July 2018

How can you spot an uncharitable charity?

On 3 July 2018 Liberal MP for Warringah and former sacked Australian prime minister Tony Abbott gave the 2018 Bob Carter Commemorative Lecture  titled “Time to pull out of Paris” at an Australian Environment Foundation event at CQ Functions in Melbourne.

So who and what is the Australian Environment Foundation (AEF)?

AEF is registered as a charity and its current board comprises:

MORAN, ALAN Director
OXLEY, ALAN Director
RIDD, PETER Director

Its address is 19 Robinson Rd, Hawthorn, VIC 3122.

According to the Australian Business Register as at 4 July 2018, AEF business names are Murray Darling AllianceListentous and Australian Climate Science Coalition and its trading name is Australian Environment Foundation Ltd.

The foundation has no employees and is allegedly run by up to 10 volunteers.

AEF has no income except donations and in the 2016 financial year these donations totalled $1,175.

The AEF reported to the charity commission that its charity work consisted of updating the AEF website, sending out regular newsletters to AEF members on current environment issues, and on consequent benefits or costs of these issues, as well as holding public meeting with highly qualified speakers. However, although it spent $8,929 on these activities in 2013-14, it spent a mere $667 in 2014-15 and no money at all in 2015-16.

One has to suspect that the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) may now be picking up the tab for any outlays on newsletters, given AEF's close association with this far-right pressure group.

Venue hire and other expenses related to its "public meetings" appear to be picked up by corporate sponsors such as Bayer Crop Science and Monsanto in the past.

The original AEF website can be found at where its right wing ratbaggery was on full view.

According to the latest version of its website:

The Australian Environment Foundation (AEF) is a non-profit, membership-based organisation that seeks to protect the environment, while preserving the rule of law, property rights, and the freedom of the individual. 

We take an evidence-based, solution-focused approach to environmental issues.    
While it may be true that "We are all environmentalists now", the great majority of Australians have little or no say in the environmental policies being put to governments – federal, state or local.  These policies are almost exclusively the domain of a tight network of conservation groups ensuring one view, and one view only, is put forward.   

The AEF is a different kind of environment group, caring for both Australia & Australians.  
So what is this difference it speaks about?

Here is part of the answer.

Source Watch as at 4 July 2018:

The Australian Environment Foundation is a front group founded by the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), a conservative Melbourne-based think tank.

The director of the environment unit of the IPA, Jennifer Marohasy was the founding Chairwoman and is listed as a Director in the organisation's documents with the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC). Mahorasy is also the listed registrant of the group's website, although the address and phone number for the website registration are identical to the address and phone number for the Victorian office of the logging industry front groupTimber Communities Australia[1] [2]

In July 2005, the month after AEF's official launch, it was announced that former television celebrity Don Burke had been appointed chairman. [3]

ASIC documents also listed Mike Nahan, the former Executive Director of the IPA, as one of the other founding directors. The documents also listed AEF's registered place of business as the IPA office. (Nahan was ED of the IPA until mid-2005). Pdf copy of ASIC registration - 11kb
In a column by Nahan in the Herald-Sun, he described AEF as "pro-biotechnology, pro-nuclear power, pro-modern farming, pro-economic growth, pro-business and pro-environment." [4]

AEF managed to jump the queue for Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) Status awarded to not for profit charities who’s purpose is to help save the environment. This status was awarded by the Department of Environment and Heritage (DEH) and approved by the Federal Liberal Environment Minister. DGR Status entitles donors to a tax deduction at their marginal rate of tax for every dollar donated. The head of the AEF admitted that it is a group set up to protect timber interests and stop resources being taken away from the industry in an interview on ABC Radio station Triple J's Hack program.


The AEF was formally launched on World Environment Day (June 5 2005) in the northern New South Wales town of Tenterfield. "This new group will be vastly different to the established environment organisations that have had the ear of governments for some time. The AEF’s focus will be on making decisions based on science and what is good for both the environment and for people," the group stated in its press release.[5]

The formation of the AEF was first mooted at the 'The Institute of Public Affairs Eureka Forum' organised in December 2004 by the Institute of Public Affairs.
The Australian Environment Foundation was registered by Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC)as a business in February, 2005. Its formation was also announced during the May 2005 Annual conference in Launceston of Timber Communities Australia, a timber industry front group.

AEF was officially launched on World Environment Day, 5th June, 2005. Jennifer Marohasy, who is the IPA's environment director, is a key player. On her blog Marohasy boasted that "The Australian Environment Foundation (AEF) has just formed and embraced the following 6 values based on my five principles." [6]
Reporting on the AEF's launch, the Melbourne broadsheet newspaper, 'The Age' reported that Marohasy is the group’s chairwoman. "Dr Marohasy said she acted as the group's leader as an individual and not part of the IPA," the Age reported. [7]
The launch was covered on Michael Duffy's conservative ABC radio show, ‘Counterpoint’ on the 6th of June in a story called ‘Putting People First’. Ironically, this phrase was the name of a (now defunct) wise-use group that operated in the US. The piece is on the ABC website. [8]

via @simonahac, 3 July 2018

According to one of the original AEF directors Max Rheese; AEF and IPA members share common values.

The AEF inaugural board members were drawn from the Institute of Public AffairsLandholders Institute, Timber Communities Australia and the  Bush Users Group.

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