Aid/Watch does good work. The Sydney-based NGO monitors Australian and multinational aid programs overseas to ensure the recipients are getting a bang for the buck they are meant to be receiving from donors. But it is not a charity for the purposes of tax laws in Australia, which means that donations to it are not tax deductible for the donor, according to a ruling by the Federal Court last week.

A bench of three judges, Susan Kenny, Margaret Stone, and Nye Perram last week said that the Administrative Appeals Tribunal had been wrong to overturn a decision of the Commissioner of Taxation to refuse to grant Aid/Watch charitable status. According to the Federal Court, while Aid/Watch is undoubtedly concerned with poverty relief, a charitable purpose, it is also political organisation because, although it is not a lobby group, it attempts to persuade governments by monitoring, researching and campaigning. Aid/Watch does not directly alleviate poverty but rather seeks to influence government policy on aid, the court said.