Called to account: ‘not for profit’ groups

This Today Tonight report on Australian charity regulation talks about the new rules for charities to make their audited accounts public. The Hill Song Church alone raised 50 million tax free dollars last year through its charity, but until this year, no one has ever asked them to account for it, and how that money is used to benefit the public. The same can be said for the College of Universal Medicine and cult leader, Serge Benhayon’s fiery property improvement fund.

Yet, our current federal government, in its wisdom, is proposing abolishing the newly formed and hard won Australian Charities and Not for Profit Commission, which runs at a cost of just over $12M per annum – a good deal less than Hill Song alone would be avoiding in tax. Add to that a certain Church of sci fi enthusiasts, and Universal Medicine and the Commission has paid its way multiple times. Add the cost burden of these harmful groups to medical services, social services and the justice and regulatory system, and the federal government’s false economy blows out again.

So in the New Year, please send an email to the federal representatives listed below, and include your local MP, wherever you live in Australia. The ACNC has to report to parliament every year, and we want as many MPs as possible to ask them the hard questions. If you live in an area where UM is spreading its sticky tentacles – Mackay, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Melbourne or Perth for example, please point this out to your local member, who has probably never heard of them – although ‘the bloke who reckons he’s Leonardo da Vinci reincarnated’ seems to jog a lot of memories, as does mention of Esoteric Breast Massage.

I wouldn’t send anything during summer recess while the pollies are all bloated and sunburnt. Best to leave it until just before parliament sits again early February, but I suggest you write an email when you’re fired up and leave it in your drafts box.

Some points you could add in your emails:

I suggest directly addressing federal minister for human services,Kevin Andrews’ (interviewed) plan to abolish the ACNC, and CC the email to the others on the list. Doug Cameron is an opposition senator who sat on the senate committee that looked at establishing the ACNC in the first place, so please definitely include him.

Tell Minister Andrews how UM has affected you and your loved ones, how outrageous it is that the College of UM gained charity status in the first place, and what an insult it is to tax payers that damaging organizations like UM are tax exempt while the rest of us earn an honest living. Tell him you are angered by the government allowing such organizations to abuse the charity and tax system, and that UM not only costs the goverment in terms of lost tax revenue but in burdening medical, judicial and social services. Ask Mr Andrews to give the ACNC increased investigative powers, rather than abolishing it.

Inform Mr Andrews that Universal Medicine’s UK Charity front, the Sound Foundation, has been issued a compliance plan by the UK Charity Commission over trustees’ conflicts of interest and public benefit. Add a link to the article in the Third Sector: http://www.thirdsector.co.uk/Governance/article/1222011/charity-commission-hands-action-plan-health-charity/

Point out to Mr Andrews that Universal Medicine had previously failed to gain charity status as a religion in the UK for the ‘Way of Livingness’ and went on to adopt the already established Sound Foundation.  http://www.thirdsector.co.uk/news/1090743/

If anyone has other suggestions or approaches, please add them in the comments. I’m also looking at contacting some of the other commentators interviewed in that report. I want to make sure Universal Medicine is included in any follow up reports on the ACNC.

Universal Medicine is the perfect case study in why the ACNC is necessary to combat abuse of the tax and charity system.

Contacts:

Federal Minister for Social Services (charity and not for profit sector), Kevin Andrews: menzies@aph.gov.au

Federal Shadow Minister for Social Services, Senator Doug Cameron: senator.cameron@aph.gov.au

Federal Member for Richmond NSW (Mullumbimby, Bangalow, Byron Bay, Lennox Head etc.), Justine Elliott: justine.elliot.mp@aph.gov.au

Federal Member for Page NSW (Lismore, Goonellabah, Wollongbar, Ballina etc), Kevin Hogan: kevin.hogan@nswnationals.org.au

Federal Senator Nick Xenophon was responsible for the establishment of the ACNC: senator.xenophon@aph.gov.au

And don’t complain you have nothing to do over the summer break. 🙂

Addendum: Tips for making sure your email is read 

  • Politicians get hundreds or thousands of emails a day. Some are important some are from silly people blowing hot air. Like Rod Harvey or Eunice Minford or RMRC.
  • Include your name, address and phone number in the email – some political offices filter out emails that don’t include those, and they don’t accept anonymous letters. Putting in your contact details tells them you’re serious about your grievance.
  • Write a good subject line that gets to the point about what you’re talking about – ‘ACNC abolition and sham charities’ could be a suggestion, or ‘ACNC Abolition and The tax exempt College of Universal Medicine’. Stuff like that. Admin people prioritize genuine issues.
  • Include your personal experience in your email – how UM has impacted you or your loved ones. Politicians do take notice of personal experiences – more so than ideological or political rants. It’s one thing to write UM is bad and they’re all nuts, but another to say UM has broken up my family, made my partner someone I don’t recognize, caused anxiety in my kids, I lost my inheritance, we lost our home, our savings. My partner got sick. I was sick but got worse, etc. The personal stuff has more power. Thx!
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4 thoughts on “Called to account: ‘not for profit’ groups

  1. I think it is going be very hard to appeal to common sense with the current line up at Government house. There’s a lot of ideology flying around, which is the same problem we’re facing with the cult. Ideology and deductive reasoning are not friends.

    Klever Kev says “If the charity is abusing the way funds are being used, its a matter for the members and recipients as to how the funds are used. There should be transparency….” what a genius. That is why the ACNC was established, to ensure that there was recourse when there was no transparency and the funds were being abused. Currently there is no mechanism for recourse for anyone, hence the ACNC. He’s employing the same spherical thinking at Serge.

    My guess is there is pressure from established religious charities (lets say the Catholic church) to be rid of it lest they be shown to be not as charitable as they make themselves out to be. Tony is a great believer in the thunder god in the sky and the miracle of Mary and the three holy ghosts, and I think Kev is too, so we’re dealing with fundamentalism, not common sense.

    Our best bet is to make sure there is a political downside to getting rid of the ACNC. I doubt logic and sound argument will penetrate their shields of dogma. They need to see how they personally will be affected. After all Kev reckons he’s smarter than the the majority of people and the objective surveys. His only interested in what’s going on in the 5 inches between his ears. The language he will understand is MONEY, and how it might look bad if they save $12M a year and give up $500M in tax or more. Hit them where it hurts.

    • I’m glad TDT picked the story up, and I hope other news orgs do too. Kevin Andrews argument is a non argument, and Xenophon will be hopping mad at the dismantling of something he’d worked years to get through parliament and the senate. I can’t see its abolition getting through the senate. BUT it will need to become a political story and voters need to get on board and make the pollies and the media pay attention.

      The thing is, the College of Universal Medicine case is the perfect argument against Kevin Andrews. We need a journo to ask Kevin Andrews about the quality of anti-social education provided by Sergio’s sham college, and get him to answer questions about Serge
      s financial set up, and how it isn’t a scam.

      Can you imagine what a TDT or 7:30 audience will think of the government giving tax exemption to an organization that teaches molestation of sexual abuse victims, evolution denial, misanthropy, disordered eating and exorcism.

      Seriously? It’s outrageous and Serge needs to outed nationally.

      Please everyone, write to those politicians. Politics is about numbers, so please make yourself heard. Most on that list have been briefed about UM. I’ve also talked with a couple of journos about this very issue. I haven’t gotten to Senator Doug Cameron yet, but I will. He’ll get the full picture.

  2. It could get through the senate next year when the new senators, many of them fringe nutters, take over the place. We better start doing the hard yards now. I am sharpening my non-existent pencil.

  3. Another article on the subject from SMH, with some more contacts for us. http://www.smh.com.au/national/revealed-the-high-cost-of-being-charitable-20131220-2zqvc.html

    I’ll say it again, Serge is the perfect case study for why the ACNC needs to be there scrutinizing accounts and public benefits.

    What do taxpayers think of a College of molestation and mind fuck getting tax breaks so the malignant messiah can expand his empire? Let’s get it into the national news and find out.

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