A correct but inconsistent Supreme Court decision on charities

Stuff reports:

Traditional values advocate Family First New Zealand has lost a bid to be able to register as a charity.

In a unanimous decision issued on Tuesday the Supreme Court said the main issue in the appeal was whether Family First met its stated charitable purpose of advancing education.

“The activities of Family First do not support the proposition that its purpose is educational,” the court concluded after reviewing its purposes, activities and 17 research papers it had published.

Family First lacked balance and objectivity, the court decided.

I actually agree with the decision. I do not think lobby groups should get charitable status. However the Supreme Court made the opposite decision with Greenpeace and ruled they can be registered as a charity. That decision was wrong – both Greenpeace and Family First are lobby groups.

So effectively what we seem to have is a Supreme Court that says lobby groups we like can be charities, but ones we don’t like can’t be. That is very unfortunate.

I personally think the definition of charitable purposes should be far tighter. Charitable status should be reserved for charities that primarily actually help people like the Red Cross, CCS, Fred Hollows etc.

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