Greenpeace declined charity status

A few days after delivering a petition against oil and gas exploration to Parliament (received by Jacinda Ardern) Greenpeace has been declined charity status

In its decision dated 21 March 2018 the independent Charities Registration Board has decided to decline Greenpeace’s application to be a registered charity because it does not advance exclusively charitable purposes.

The Board considers that Greenpeacehas an independent purpose to promote its own particular views about the environment and other issues.

The independent Board also said that Greenpeace and it’s members being involved in illegal activities disqualifies it from registration.


Greenpeace of New Zealand Incorporated

The role of the independent Charities Registration Board (“the Board”) is to maintain the integrity of the Charities Register by ensuring that entities on the Charities Register qualify for registration. The Board makes its decisions based on the facts before it applying the law including relevant case law. The Board must decline organisations’ applications for registration when they do not advance exclusively charitable purposes for the public benefit. A purpose is charitable if it advances public benefit in a way that is analogous to cases that have previously been held to be charitable.

The Board has decided that Greenpeace of New Zealand Incorporated (“Greenpeace”) does not meet the legal requirements to be registered as a charity and has declined its application.

In 2014 the Supreme Court directed the Board to reconsider Greenpeace’s application in light of Greenpeace’s amended stated purposes and the Court’s decision.  The Board has carried out a full reconsideration of Greenpeace’s application and applied the principles decided in the courts to reach its decision.

The Board considers Greenpeace does not qualify for registration for two main grounds:

  1. Greenpeace promotes its points of view on the environment and other issues in ways that cannot be found to be for the benefit of the public.
  2. Greenpeace and its members’ involvement in illegal activities amounts to an illegal purpose which disqualifies it from registration.

Promotion of points of view

The Board considers that Greenpeace has an independent purpose to advocate its own particular views about the environment and other issues which does not advance a public benefit in a way previously accepted as charitable.

Although the Supreme Court in Greenpeace held that advocacy can be charitable, it indicated that promoting a cause or advocating a particular viewpoint will not often be charitable. This is because it is not possible to say whether the views promoted are for the public benefit in the way the law recognises as charitable.

The Board considers that Greenpeace’s focus is on advocating its point of view on environmental issues such fossil fuel exploration and the expansion of intensive dairy farming.  Most of Greenpeace’s environmental advocacy cannot be determined to be in the public benefit when all the potential consequences of adopting its views are taken into account.

Greenpeace has the freedom to continue to communicate its views and to influence policy and legislation but the Board has found that Greenpeace’s pursuit of these activities do not qualify as being for the public benefit in a charitable sense.

Illegal purpose

The Supreme Court confirmed that an illegal purpose will disqualify an organisation from being registered as a charity. In some cases, an illegal purpose can be inferred from an organisation’s involvement in illegal activities.

The Board found that Greenpeace directly coordinates and authorises its members to carry out illegal activities, such as trespass on ships and buildings.  There is no evidence that Greenpeace has any processes in place to discourage its members from carrying out illegal activities.

The Board considers the illegal activities form a pattern of behaviour from which an illegal purpose can be inferred. Greenpeace’s illegal purpose means that it is disqualified from registration as a charity.

The Board’s full decision: Greenpeace-of-New-Zealand-Incorporated-Decision.pdf

The Charities Registration Board’s statement regarding the decision can be found here.

Civilian Party submit registration but cutting it fine

The Civilian Party believes it has got the five hundred members required and has submitted it’s registration, but it’s not certain there will be time to complete the process.

They posted on Facebook:

Several days ago, our fledgling political movement came to you, the people, and asked for your help in our hour of greatest need. The response was overwhelming. At least that’s the sentence our autocomplete system suggests most commonly comes after the previous one.

Four days on, we are pleased to report that the future of this country is secure, and in a box, on its way to Wellington. Is that future alive, or is it dead, or is it in a constant state of flux until someone (probably the Electoral Commission) opens it and finds out? In just over a month’s time, we will know.

A special and heartfelt thanks must go out to every single one of you who financially committed to this party over the course of our quest for registration. When we made our final plea, we received far, far more memberships than necessary. Perhaps you people should learn some moderation.

The work for us on our application is now done, and The Civilian shall return to usual business tomorrow. But if the Electoral Commission decides that your voices – no, your money – is worthy, then this will only be the beginning of our electoral journey.

We now promise to turn much of our spare attention to replying to emails and messages that have been sent by you and left unanswered for far, far too long.

A great philosopher once said something very wise…

That is all.

The Electoral Commission needs to verify the membership before approving registration. This can take six to eight weeks, so the deadline of Writ Day on 20 August is a tight target.

 Stuff reports that two other parties are yet to register.

Two other parties which applied for public funding for broadcasting during the election period, the Expatriate Party of New Zealand and the Truth, Freedom, Justice Party are yet to submit registration applications to the Electoral Commission. 

If they do not do so, or the applications are rejected, the funds will be shared among the other parties.

 

UnitedFuture registration good for National, Labour, Parliament

The re-registration of United Future is good for the party and it’s growing number of members. It is an important step in the rebuilding of the party.

It is good for the National led Government. It confirms the presence of a reliable coalition partner and maintains stability.

It is good for the National Party and it’s potential options after the next election. And National aren’t alone there, it gives Labour the same options.

If UnitedFuture keep Peter Dunne’s seat in Ohariu and especially if they gain a few more this potentially will give both National and Labour more options when they see if they can form a coalition.

This would make things easier for both major parties. A reliable centre party option means National is less likely to get dragged to the right, and it means Labour is less likely to get dragged to the left. It enables both parties to appeal to the larger centre right and centre left constituencies.

And if United Future remains it also strengthens Parliament. MMP works best when larger parties have multiple small party options for forming coalitions and for passing legislation. This promotes the concept of majority ruling, which didn’t happen when single minority parties ruled under First Past the Post, and could be severely reduced if one radical small party was able to wag the dog.

Parliament and the major parties benefit from a trustworthy and reliable party in the centre. United Future is the only party that fits that role. The party re-registration is a positive for the party, for Parliament, and for the people of New Zealand who benefit from stable government.

UnitedFuture re-registered

The Electoral Commission has announced the re-registration of UnitedFuture.

Registration of United Future Party

On 13 August 2013 the Electoral Commission determined an application made under Part 4 of the Electoral Act 1993 to register the following political party:

Party:                United Future New Zealand
Abbreviation:    United Future

The Electoral Commission determined that the party be registered in accordance with section 67 of the Electoral Act 1993.  The Register of Political Parties has been updated accordingly.

Party leader Peter Dunne:

Dunne Welcomes UnitedFuture’s Re-Registration

UnitedFuture leader Peter Dunne has welcomed the Electoral Commission’s decision to re-register UnitedFuture as a political party.

The Commission advised today that it has agreed to restore UnitedFuture to the register of political parties from August 15th.

“I am very pleased that this decision has finally been reached, and will now pursue with Mr Speaker the restoration of UnitedFuture’s recognition as a recognised Parliamentary party.

“While I am pleased that this situation has been resolved, I remain unhappy with the cumbersome process the Electoral Commission felt obliged to follow.

“I am therefore drafting a Member’s Bill to provide for the acceptance of online party memberships as legitimate for party registration purposes, and for a separate re-registration procedure for established registered parties that deregister, and seek fresh registration within a specified period of time.

“My Bill will also require the Electoral Commission to formally audit the membership of all registered parties once every three years, unlike the current situation where the membership of registered parties is never checked by the Commission,” he says.

Mr Dunne expressed his thanks to UnitedFuture’s board, volunteers and general membership for their efforts in recent weeks.

“It is a phenomenal achievement to have completed the registration process in just under ten weeks, and it is a great tribute to their hard work and efforts,” he says.

Party President Robin Gunston:

UnitedFuture to be re-registered as a political party

Some ten weeks since it requested the Electoral Commission to de-register it, as it could not comply with existing EC rules, UnitedFuture has today been advised by the Commission that it will be re-registered this Thursday, August 15th.

“This has been a complex and long process for the party” said Party President, Robin Gunston, “which has required a lot of effort from the Board throughout this time of uncertainty. We have greatly appreciated the increased public support for our principles and values which have boosted our membership numbers- they have shown that our MMP democracy needs a Party like us at the centre of NZ politics.”

“We have appreciated the efforts made by the staff of the Electoral Commission to expedite the process, and will now be examining the learning lessons not only for the Party’s governance and management in the future but also of the legal framework under which the Electoral Commission derives its powers.” Mr Gunston said.

He continued, “The Party is now strengthening its regional and policy interest areas utilising the wider membership now engaged with it, ahead of planning for the 2014 General Election. As a minor but effective Party which has been involved in successive Governments we have much to offer those people who want to be involved in grass roots politics and actually see policies they care about brought into fruition. We therefore welcome yet more centrist New Zealanders to join us in the near future to build on our renewed vigour.”

United Future have the numbers, try to re-register

United Future have applied to register but the  Electoral Commission are making it difficult.

The EC is insisting they register as a new party. This is odd, the party remained in existence, it was simply honest enough to say it may have dropped below the required 500. The party now has well over 500 members.

United Future applies for re-registration

Party president Robin Gunston says there’s been a surge in renewals and new members and it now has more than 500, but the commission is treating it as a new party.

“They regard this as the registration of a brand new party, not one just deregistered 11 days ago that they had previous information about,” he said.

“For a new party they will only accept a signed paper copy of a member’s application… we offered a full electronic record of all membership details requested plus a log of traceable electronic payments from members but it seems this does not suffice.”

Perhaps the EC needs to modernise it’s thinking. Insisting on original paper records and refusing to accept electronic records is very archaic.

No existing party has to provide any records of membership, they simply have to sign a pledge that they have the required numbers.

If United Future have to get signed applications from all members despite many of them having applied electronically they will have had to prove membership to a degree that no other party in Parliament has had to do.

United Future to re-register soon

Radio New Zealand reports that United Future plans to re-register itself as a political party by the middle of next week.

United Future to re-register within days

The party leadership will on Thursday write to Parliament’s Speaker to inform him of its plans to re-register though it could be another two months before United Future is fully reinstated by the Electoral Commission.

Last week United Future asked to be formally deregistered because it could not guarantee it had 500 paid up members.

United Future president Robin Gunston says it is now just 10 supporters short of that threshold.

He says final verification will be carried out this weekend, before a statutory declaration is resubmitted to the Electoral Commission next week.

Parliament’s Speaker David Carter has written to the party about the lapsed registration.

Mr Gunston says party leader Peter Dunne will assure Mr Carter that everything is on track.

Gunston blogged on Tuesday:

Our future is having choice of who represents us!

June 04 3:00 PM

Despite the ruminations and machinations of the last few weeks, UnitedFuture has made a resolution to return to being a registered political party way before the next General Election. As a firm proponent of MMP it wishes to do its best to offer the voting public a real choice in any election.

If it were humanly possible to counter the forces of the major parties within electorates with their large budgets and party organisations it would do so, as in a true MMP democracy it should be possible for local electorates to have real choice of those who wish to serve their local people in their Parliament. Alas this seems to be in Nirvana territory!

In its place UnitedFuture offers Liberal Democratic principles and values to the voters by using their party vote. It is over to both party members and future voters to go beyond any of the presidential styles of “leadership” and discover those parties founded on such principles and values which it can then rely on to help govern the country for its best long term future.

UnitedFuture holds a precarious position in the so called “centre” of politics-but one from which in its 13 years of existence it has not resiled from, nor will it do so.

So there is obviously a determination to keep the party going.

One of the first party priorities should be, must be, to communicate better with the members. I have found out the above information for myself.

Could still be a United Future

Yesterday’s news of the voluntary deregistration of United Future was a bit of a shock, but it doesn’t mean the party is finished. It could be the boot up the bum the party needed.

A Radio New Zealand report explains the resulting situation for Peter Dunne:

The cancelled registration does not have any bearing on the ability of the party’s only representative in Parliament, Peter Dunne, to continue to serve as an electorate MP or as a minister of the Crown.

However, United Future will need to be re-registered before the 2014 election to be able to campaign for the party vote and to be eligible for the broadcasting allocation.

And the party is trying to increase it’s membership so it can re-register.

Party president Robin Gunston said on Friday that United Future is about a 100 paid-up members short at present and it could take about two months to rectify the situation. He said the party asked the commission to temporarily cancel its registration until it confirms numbers.

This is highly embarrassing for the party. It is the responsibility of the board, and Peter Dunne shouldn’t have been let down like this.

But there could be a positive from it. The publicity looks to have already prompted an increase in membership.

Party president Robin Gunston claimed “today’s PR saw a surge in new members”. That could be seen as spin – there has been a bit of spinning going on – but I’ve seen comments on Twitter and Kiwiblog that people are considering becoming a member to save the party.

I still believe that there is a good opportunity for a moderate centre-based party in our parliamentary mix. In fact I think it’s critical for the wellbeing of our democracy.

If you are interested in helping save United Future you can join here for just $5.

And if you are interested in becoming more actively involved in politics as well then I’m happy to offer any advice or support I can. You can contact me at petedgeorge@gmail.com or on o27 327 3468.

There’s actually an initiative right now to revive United Future interest in the South Island, with a meeting planned for Timaru in early July, to share ideas and plan.

And if anyone in Dunedin wants to meet and talk I’d be very happy to do that.

There could still be a United Future – if enough of us want it.