Indooroopilly could well become a byword for sleaze in the wake of last Saturday’s Queensland state election.

Remember what happened to Alec Marr from the Wilderness Society when he made supportive noises at the Libs’ plan to invest some of the proceeds of part sale of Telstra in the environment back in 1996? A pile of plantation timbers was stacked around his feet and set alight.

The Society sings a very different song nowadays.

In Indooroopilly – a marginal – it was noted last weekend that the local Greens expired rather than give their preferences to Labor. It sorta stood out, as it was the only seat where this occurred.

Not that anyone noticed many Greens at the Indooroopilly booths.

The Wilderness Society, however, were out supporting Labor Member Ronan Lee. In force. All armed with how-to-votes.

This is the same Wilderness Society that calls itself a “charity” – defined by the Australian Taxation Office as “not political, lobbying or promotional”.

“An entity is not charitable if its dominant purpose is advocating a political party or cause, attempting to change the law or government policy, or promoting a particular point of view,” the Tax Office says. “However, if an entity’s purpose is otherwise charitable, the presence of political, lobbying or promotional activity that is incidental to the charitable aims will not prevent it being a charity” (get the works at  

http://www.ato.gov.au/nonprofit/content.asp?doc=/content/24483.htm&page=2&pc=001/004/031/003&mnu=1443&mfp=001/004&st=&cy=1).

Shrubhuggers have split on the issue in Queensland before – like at the 1995 election.

Mike Moore fans who don’t trust us ex-Libs at Crikey can have a look at http://www.greenleft.org.au/back/1995/195/195p8b.htm. Here’s part of what it has to say:

“In the north Queensland seat of Mulgrave, defeated ALP minister Warren Pitt was one of the strongest supporters of rampant development and mining in coastal regions and national parks. Nevertheless, the Green’s decision to direct preferences to the Coalition has caused a huge row in the wider conservation movement and among progressives generally.

“On the other hand, there has been a sharp reaction by some environment groups to the push by a coalition of peak conservation organisations for the movement to fall in behind Labor. Dr Aila Keto, Rainforest Preservation Society president, caused a storm of protest when, two weeks before the election, she, on behalf of her group, the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), the Wilderness Society and others, said that the Greens had ‘no alternative’ but to give preferences to Labor.

“This led to other smaller groups, such as the Surfrider Foundation, the anti-tollway group VETO, the organisation opposing the state government’s Eastlink power line and Australians for Animals, to accuse the peak groups of being on the Labor “gravy train” over government grants.”

The executive director of the Australian Conservation Foundation back then was one Trish Caswell. The Trish Caswell who was a former Victorian Trades Hall hack back then and who now trades as a sustainability guru.

Hillary had quite a go at Treasurer Peter Costello for failing to give genuine tax breaks to ordinary Australians at http://www.crikey.com.au/politics/2004/02/09-0001.html

Perhaps he can find some money to put towards some genuine tax reform by clamping down on these phoney charities. You have to make decisions if you’re PM, after all – hey, Pete? 

Peter Fray

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