No lobby group should be a charity

The Herald reports:

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.

My view has consistently been that lobby groups should not be charities, and that Family First is primarily a lobby group. So this is the right decision in my opinion. However Greenpeace and FIZZ and Alcohol Action should also not be registered charities.

Some lobby groups also do charitable work, but this is not the bulk of what they do. In those cases, they could do what the Sensible Sentencing Trust did and effectively split their organisation into two parts – one that does victim support and one that does advocacy. The former is a charity while the latter is not (off memory).

To my mind one has to look at what the organisation does overall. Take Greenpeace and Forest  & Bird, Both are environmental or conservation groups that are politically aligned to the left and active politically.

However Greenpeace does almost no actual conservation or environmental work. ALmost 100% of what they do is political activism. That is why they should not be a charity.

Forest and Bird however does actual conservation work, as well as their lobbying. They remove weeds, they plant native plants, they help with pest control, they protect water catchment area etc. So I have no issues with Forest and Bird being a charity, but it is outrageous if Greenpeace continue to have charitable status if Family First is not eligible. They should both be eligible or neither be eligible.

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