The Waubra Foundation, a notable anti-wind farm group have been stripped of their position as a tax-deductible charity. This could have repercussions for other ‘like’ groups who claim to promote health.
In a landmark decision that dates back to 2014, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in Adelaide confirmed that the Australian Charities and Not-For-Profits Commission had in fact decided to remove the Waubra foundation’s title as a health promotion charity.
The foundation was originally formed in 2010 by Peter Mitchell, an engineer and former president of the National Stroke Foundation. The foundation states on its website that its aim is to conduct research into the potential health problems “identified by residents living near wind turbines”.
Most specifically, it has been looking to raise concerns around low frequency noise, or infrasound, produced by wind turbines near residents. Much of the reasoning behind the decision is due to research conducted by Australia’s National Health and Medical Council, amongst other international bodies, fining no evidence of health issues caused by wind farms.
This ruling marks the first made by the Australian Charities and Not-For-Profits Commission (ACNC) since it began in 2012. Founded to regulate charities and other non-profit organisations, the acting commission for the ACNC, Murray Baird said that this case would be used as a basis for future decisions.
Mr Baird said that the ACNC places significant weight “on sound judgment and decisions”, and that this was the basis for which the commission would be built on. He also said that this case adds to the understanding and purpose of both health promotion charities and also the protection of human rights.
Another spokesperson for the commission said that there were only specific charities that had access to the deductible tax status and that health promotion was an entirely different category.
In response to the decision by the ACNC, chief executive of the Waubra Foundation, Sarah Laurie said that the foundation would be “seeking legal advice”. However, the Laurie did say that the foundation will remain registered with the ACNC to continue to promote health and oppose any government changes.
Many are welcoming decision by the commission believing that the Waubra Foundation is merely there to disrupt the industry. Simon Holmes a Court said that he believed that it would be hard to find an organisation who has “done more to foment community division” and limit the development of clean energy in Australia.
This is the “final nail in the coffin” for the Foundation Mr Holmes a Court said.