Is Greenpeace a charity?

The Press reports:

Greenpeace New Zealand is fighting to gain charitable status after it was turned down by the Charities Commission for advocating peace and indirectly encouraging illegal activity.

I can’t say I am surprised by the decision. Greenpeace is a multinational lobby group, not a charity.

Greenpeace executive director Bunny McDiarmid said the environmental group had appealed against the commission’s decision to the High Court, where it would be heard in August or September.

“We think it’s worthwhile challenging this decision,” she said. “I think it’s an interesting debate that societies should have … around what is a charity and whether the law from 100 years ago is still relevant today.”

The rejection means Greenpeace could lose income tax exemption, which is granted only to registered charities, although people will still be able to make tax-free donations to the organisation.

McDiarmid said Greenpeace still had income tax exemption pending a court decision, but losing the status was not why it was challenging the commission’s ruling. “That doesn’t make much difference because we’re not a business.”

The commission’s decision in April found Greenpeace’s promotion of “disarmament and peace” was pushed in a political, rather than educational, way.

Highly political I would say.

Charities Commission chief executive Trevor Garrett said organisations that dabbled in political advocacy, but were primarily community-focused, such as Plunket, were safe, but those with an overt political role were not charities.

A sensible distinction.

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