The Supreme Court has ruled charities can engage in political activities, allowing Greenpeace’s appeal.
The incorporated society's application to be included on the Charities Register was declined in 2010.
Following a lengthy court battle, however, it can apply for reinstatement, which will bring financial benefits. (see the judgment and media statement attached)
In a judgment released this afternoon, a Supreme Court majority comprising Chief Justice Sian Elias, Justice John McGrath and Justice Susan Glazebrook said the rule of exclusion for those with a political purpose should no longer be applied in New Zealand.
The minority, Justice William Young and Justice Terence Arnold, said the court should not differ from the plain language used in the Charities Act.
They said the rule that political advocacy is not charitable is defensible not only on the basis of the authorities but also as a matter of policy and practicality.
June 2008: Greenpeace New Zealand apply to the Charities Commission to be registered as a charity.
April 2010: The Charities Commission declines Greenpeace’s application. The Commission said that, although the bulk of Greenpeace’s purposes and activities, such as the promotion of the protection and preservation of nature and the environment, were charitable, the promotion of disarmament and peace would not be charitable.
December 2010: Greenpeace appeal to the High Court.
May 2011: The High Court finds that Greenpeace should not be able to register as a charity because the organisation’s nuclear disarmament purposes were independent political purposes and therefore non-charitable.
September 2012: Greenpeace head to the Court of Appeal.
November 2012: The Court of Appeal agrees with Greenpeace, and says that the organisation’s peace and disarmament purposes were broadly charitable and the Charities Commission (now called the Charities Services) should consider the application again. The Court agreed that political advocacy did not disqualify an organisation from being a charity, as long as it was not a ‘primary purpose’. The Court also said that any activities carried out by a charity that were illegal would preclude that organisation from being a charity.
14 May 2013: Greenpeace heads to the Supreme Court to challenge two of the Court of Appeal’s findings, arguing that restrictions should not be put on political advocacy, as it is not consistent with New Zealand’s participatory democracy for there to be a general prohibition on participation. The organisation also questioned whether the Court was able to judge where public benefit lies around political advocacy.
6 August 2014: The Supreme Court hands down its decision.
This article is tagged with the following keywords. Find out more about MyNBR Tags
- Dunne warns government of 'consequences' of RMA reform
- Wellington Airport sees $2 billion net benefit in longer runway
- Snowball runs first wholesale offer for SOS Hydrate
- Orion Health first-half loss widens in line with expectations, revenue climbs 26%,
- If Goff could choose Mt Roskill successor, it'd be Wood
Most listened to
- NZ Windfarms departing director Michael Stiassny speaks out after board exit
- James Mayo talks about SOS Hydration's growth plans after Snowball offer
- Michael Wood on whether he would run in Mt Roskill
- SAFE's Abi Izzard quizzed over protest of a caged hen operation at Pukekohe
- Nevil Gibson talks about Editor's Insight on the planned $US150 million merger between Pfizer and Allergan
- Taupo Beef’s Mike Barton on how to extract sustainable profit from farming
- Will the government lose on RMA reform? Rob Hosking outlines the PM's speech
- How could bookmakers recoup $16 million? Racing Board chief executive John Allen explains
- Nevil Gibson breaks down the latest aviation news
- BusinessNZ manager of energy, environment and infrastructure John Carnegie talks about the climate change survey
- Wayne Evans explains SBS bank's plan to make money for its 3.99% home loan rate
- Nevil Gibson discusses his latest Editor's Insight on demographics