Senate Inquiry Tax Laws Public Benefit Test. Hearings/Report

Media coverage related to the Church of Scientology.

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Senate Inquiry Tax Laws Public Benefit Test. Hearings/Report

Post by Sponge » Thu Jun 24, 2010 3:39 pm

Edit:#2 Update: 23rd Feb 2011
Australian Government's Response to Xenophon's Inquiry Recommendations
Goto page 2 of this thread or jump here: viewtopic.php?p=392312#p392312

EDIT#1: 7th September 2010: Final report is out. Scroll down this thread or jump here: viewtopic.php?p=381366#381366

http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/committee/ ... /index.htm

Forum discussion thread, including the list of submissions to the inquiry:
viewtopic.php?p=379023#379023

Vimeo video links will be inserted into this schedule as they are uploaded.
Youtube versions are posted further down.

The proof copies of the Hansard transcripts for the June 28 and June 29 sessions of the Economics Legislation Committee are now available.
Here they are in PDF:
June 28, 2010 http://www.aph.gov.au/hansard/senate/co ... S13202.pdf
June 29, 2010 http://www.aph.gov.au/hansard/senate/co ... S13212.pdf
Source:
Parliament of Australia: Senate: Committees: Economics: Tax Laws Amendment (Public Benefit Test) Bill 2010 - Public Hearings and Transcripts

Inquiry into Tax Laws Amendment (Public Benefit Test) Bill 2010
Committee Room 2S1
PARLIAMENT HOUSE
CANBERRA



DAY 1
Public hearing - Canberra, Monday 28 June 2010
WEBCAST home: http://webcast.aph.gov.au/livebroadcasting/
Direct link: Live Windows media stream of the public hearing....
http://webcast.aph.gov.au/livebroadcast ... v_100K.asx
(you may be prompted to save the .asx file. If so then once saved simply open it in Windows media player, Media player classic or VLC or any other capable player and it will connect and start streaming the video)
AUDIO ONLY live stream: http://webcast.aph.gov.au/livebroadcast ... ms903a.asx


PROGRAMME

9:00am–9:45am
Dr Stephen Mutch (submission 16)

9:45am–10:30am
Roundtable
Ms Janette Vonthehoff
Ms Carmel Underwood
Mr Paul Schofield
Mr Kevin Mackey
Mr James Anderson


10:30am–10:45am
Morning Tea

10:45am–11:30am
Cult Information and Family Support (submission 14)
Ms Ros Hodgkins, President

11:30am–12:15pm
Charity Commission of New Zealand (single part vimeo video not available yet - see below for youtube version)
Mr Trevor Garrett, Chief Executive

12:15pm–1:00pm
Mr Andrew Lind Corney & Lind Lawyers

1:00pm–2:00pm
Lunch

2:00pm–3:30pm
Church of Scientology (submission 66) Part 1
Chruch of Scientology Part 2
2:00pm–3:30pm
Ms Louise McBride (Private capacity) (video included in links above)

3:30pm–4:15pm
Atheist Foundation of Australia (submission 25)
Mr David Nicholls, President

4:15pm-6:00pm
Afternoon suspension

6:00pm-7:00pm
UK Charities Commission (submission 41) (via teleconference)
Mr David Locke, Executive Director, Charity Services
Ms Joanne Edwardes, Head of Status and Public Benefit

7:00pm
Adjournment

===============================================

DAY 2
Public hearing - Canberra, Tuesday 29 June 2010
WEBCAST home: http://webcast.aph.gov.au/livebroadcasting/


PROGRAMME

9:00am–9:45am
Australian Christian Lobby (submission 48 )
Mr Ben Williams

9:45am–10:30am
Dr Matthew Turnour (submission 1) (via teleconference)
Prof Myles McGregor Lowndes

10:30am–10:45am
Morning Tea

10:45am–11:30am
Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (submission 63)
Fr Brian Lucas

11:30am–12:15pm
Melbourne Law School, Not-for-Profit Project (submission 47)
Dr Matthew Harding, Senior Lecturer
Dr Joyce Chia, Research Fellow


12:15pm–1:00pm
Mr Larry Brennan (via teleconference)
*nothing useful on video since evidence was taken in private

1:00pm–2:00pm
Lunch

2:00pm–3:30pm
Treasury
Ms Sandra Roussell
Mr Michael Willcock

Australian Taxation Office
Mr Greg Williams, Acting Deputy Commissioner of Small and Medium Enterprises
Mr Michael Hardy, Assistant Commissioner Policy & Government Liaison and Government & Not for Profit Sector


3:30pm
Adjournment


For further information, contact:
Committee Secretary
Senate Standing Committee on Economics
PO Box 6100
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600
Australia

Phone: +61 2 6277 3540
Fax: +61 2 6277 5719
Email: economics.sen@aph.gov.au

Check here for any subsequent changes/additions....
http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/committee/ ... /index.htm
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Post by Sponge » Sun Jun 27, 2010 11:51 pm

Senate probe into tax-free credentials
Former members of the Church of Scientology today will tell of the need for
charities and religious groups to pass a public benefit test to receive a tax-free status.

ABC News 28th June 2010
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010 ... 938392.htm
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Post by Sponge » Mon Jun 28, 2010 4:39 am

From mnql1 on WWP who has done YouTube versions of the above videos

from Day 1:

The entire June 28, 2010 proceedings of the Senate Economics Committee are now on YouTube. In order of appearance:

Dr. Stephen Mutch

YouTube - Dr. Stephen Mutch (1/5) Scientology and Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
YouTube - Dr. Stephen Mutch (2/5) Scientology and Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
YouTube - Dr. Stephen Mutch (3/5) Scientology and Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
YouTube - Dr. Stephen Mutch (4/5) Scientology and Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
YouTube - Dr. Stephen Mutch (5/5) Scientology and Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal

Roundtable
Janette Vonthethoff, Carmel Underwood, Paul Schofield, Kevin Mackey, James Anderson


YouTube - Roundtable (1/6) Scientology and Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
YouTube - Roundtable (2/6) Scientology and Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
YouTube - Roundtable (3/6) Scientology and Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
YouTube - Roundtable (4/6) Scientology and Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
YouTube - Roundtable (5/6) Scientology and Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
YouTube - Roundtable (6/6) Scientology and Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal

CIFS (Cult Information and Family Support)
Ros Hodgkins, Peter Smith


YouTube - CIFS (1/4) Scientology and Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
YouTube - CIFS (2/4) Scientology and Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
YouTube - CIFS (3/4) Scientology and Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
YouTube - CIFS (4/4) Scientology and Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal

Charity Commission of New Zealand
Trevor Garrett


YouTube - Charity Commission of New Zealand (1/6) Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
YouTube - Charity Commission of New Zealand (2/6) Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
YouTube - Charity Commission of New Zealand (3/6) Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
YouTube - Charity Commission of New Zealand (4/6) Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
YouTube - Charity Commission of New Zealand (5/6) Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
YouTube - Charity Commission of New Zealand (6/6) Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal

Corney & Lind Lawyers
Andrew Lind


YouTube - Corney and Lind Lawyers (1/3) Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
YouTube - Corney and Lind Lawyers (2/3) Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
YouTube - Corney and Lind Lawyers (3/3) Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal

Church of Scientology
Virginia Stewart, Mike Ferriss, Louise McBride


YouTube - CoS (1/9) Scientology and Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
YouTube - CoS (2/9) Scientology and Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
YouTube - CoS (3/9) Scientology and Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
YouTube - CoS (4/9) Scientology and Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
YouTube - CoS (5/9) Scientology and Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
YouTube - CoS (6/9) Scientology and Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
YouTube - CoS (7/9) Scientology and Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
YouTube - CoS (8/9) Scientology and Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
YouTube - CoS (9/9) Scientology and Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal

Atheist Foundation of Australia
David Nicholls


YouTube - Atheist Foundation (1/2) Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
YouTube - Atheist Foundation (2/2) Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal

UK Charities Commission
David Locke, Joanne Edwardes


YouTube - UK Charities Commission (1/6) Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
YouTube - UK Charities Commission (2/6) Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
YouTube - UK Charities Commission (3/6) Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
YouTube - UK Charities Commission (4/6) Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
YouTube - UK Charities Commission (5/6) Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
YouTube - UK Charities Commission (6/6) Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal


===========================================

The entire June 29, 2010 proceedings of the Senate Economics Committee are now on YouTube. In order of appearance:

from Day 2


Australian Christian Lobby
Lyle Shelton, Chief of Staff
Ben Williams, Research Officer

Australian Christian Lobby (1/4) Scientology and Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikXbhBz_TPM
Australian Christian Lobby (2/4) Scientology and Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7caUIjG9_Q
Australian Christian Lobby (3/4) Scientology and Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q891Q6eztgc
Australian Christian Lobby (4/4) Scientology and Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wzLvOsQcVU


Dr. Matthew Turnour
Prof. Myles McGregor Lowndes

Dr. M Turnour & Prof. M. McGregor Lowndes (1/5) Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78HaD5yFbvI
Dr. M Turnour & Prof. M. McGregor Lowndes (2/5) Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YgxV6BO1AJc
Dr. M Turnour & Prof. M. McGregor Lowndes (3/5) Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MlHktF6n7jk
Dr. M Turnour & Prof. M. McGregor Lowndes (4/5) Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHtcV3fGOQQ
Dr. M Turnour & Prof. M. McGregor Lowndes (5/5) Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnXczilsNFg


Australian Catholic Bishops Conference
Father Brian Lucas, General Secretary

Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (1/6) Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GESiSn3YEkU
Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (2/6) Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nja1-pmFTKM
Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (3/6) Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWpG3qrPivc
Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (4/6) Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CYfMYwPWXZ0
Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (5/6) Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j85tjyc1evI
Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (6/6) Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IsH5RzfF81k


Melbourne Law School, Not-for-Profit Project
Dr Matthew Harding, Senior Lecturer
Dr Joyce Chia, Research Fellow

Melbourne Law School (1/3) Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmheM87CiR0
Melbourne Law School (2/3) Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-MOqwl5dQvw
Melbourne Law School (3/3) Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPE6opJCtq0


Larry Brennan - Scientology and Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kD6UVWazURs


Treasury
Michael Wilcock, General Manager, Personal and Retirement Income Division
Sandra Roussell, Manager, Philanthropy and Exemptions Unit

Australian Taxation Office
Greg Williams, Acting Deputy Commissioner of Small and Medium Enterprises
Michael Hardy, Assistant Commissioner Policy & Government Liaison and Government & Not for Profit Sector

Treasury & Australian Taxation Office (1/10) Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yAkE8sfpsUo
Treasury & Australian Taxation Office (2/10) Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8Uw6QUsk4s
Treasury & Australian Taxation Office (3/10) Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tDDDFNPtOI
Treasury & Australian Taxation Office (4/10) Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=og08_zXXzo8
Treasury & Australian Taxation Office (5/10) Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUcbS3T3E8g
Treasury & Australian Taxation Office (6/10) Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pq3fKE34Nc0
Treasury & Australian Taxation Office (7/10) Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gViwW9FaIQ
Treasury & Australian Taxation Office (8/10) Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61z16LvHr28
Treasury & Australian Taxation Office (9/10) Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vK0feExtrw
Treasury & Australian Taxation Office (10/10) Senator Xenophon's Public Benefit Test Proposal
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S1TwqB8cqYc


===============================================

Here is a YouTube playlist for June 28 and another for June 29......

June 28
http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p ... CC460FAC8E

June 29
http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p ... 09F46816F1

Edit: Added 6th Jan 2011....
Nan McLean's video address to Senator Xenophon now available via XenuTV....
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQYBI8xASHo
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUu5dLuTgJg
*Edit#2: Transcript now available:
http://www.xenutv.com/blog/wp-content/u ... -Final.pdf


The McLean family info page via xenu-directory....
http://www.xenu-directory.net/critics/mclean1.html
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Post by Sponge » Mon Jun 28, 2010 11:56 pm

Media after the 1st day of Hearings...

Scientology says it's just like Salvos (Salvation Army)
http://news.brisbanetimes.com.au/breaki ... -zepg.html
http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/scient ... 5885352498

Scientology says we're just like the Salvation Army in Senate inquiry
http://www.footprintsdownunder.com.au/b ... nquiry-733

'Ruthless' Scientology condemned in tax debate
http://www.smh.com.au/national/ruthless ... -zf9l.html
http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/nationa ... -zf9l.html
http://www.independentweekly.com.au/new ... torypage=0

'Taxpayers shouldn't fund abuse': ex-Scientologists
http://www.theage.com.au/national/taxpa ... -zf5d.html

Scientology scrutinised by Senate
ABC PM, Includes audio
http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2010/s2939191.htm

Inquiry hears Scientology cash siphoned overseas
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010 ... 939759.htm?
http://au.news.yahoo.com/a/-/australian ... -overseas/

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Post by Sponge » Tue Jun 29, 2010 4:08 pm

Comment from a Salvation Army officer in response to the above press reported remarks by scientology claiming they are "just like the 'Salvos' "......

(heads-up from WWP:
http://forums.whyweprotest.net/318-sena ... ost1277319 )


The author of this is an Officer (Clergy / Pastor) in The Salvation Army.

http://thatjeffcarterwashere.blogspot.com/
Tuesday, June 29, 2010

We're Just Like the Salvation Army...

The Church (cough! cough!) of Scientology has been in trouble recently. Reports of their slave-labor, forced-abortions, abusive-leadership, tax-dodging, criminal activities have been popping up everywhere.
And now, in an attempt to counter all that bad press, they are attempting to hide behind the good name of legitimate-honest-to-God church and charitable organization: The Salvation Army.

Australian independent senator, Nick Xenophon has proposed some legislation that would require religious groups to prove what public benefit they they provide before being able to claim tax-exemption. Scientologists - fearful of loosing their tax exempt status in Australia - now claim that they are just like the Salvation Army.

I realise, of course, that I'm biased here. I am, after all, an officer in The Salvation Army. But this claim is outrageous.

Our services are provided (for the most part) free of charge. Not so in the Church of Scientology where members can expect to pay thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars in order to receive services from the Church and to reach higher levels. Our drug and alcohol recovery programs have a demonstrable record of success - not so with Scientology's Narconon (Not to be confused with Narcotics Anonymous!). The Salvation Army has always been open and forthright about it's financial records. We keep ourselves accountable to the public whose donations fund our work. Not so with the secretive Scientologists.

"Like the Salvation Army?" I don't think so....

Well, except for maybe one thing. Within the Church (cough! cough!) of Scientology there is group known as the "Sea Org" who wear uniforms similar to ours.

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Post by Sponge » Wed Jun 30, 2010 7:10 pm

The proof copies of the Hansard transcripts for the June 28 and June 29 sessions of the Economics Legislation Committee are now available. Here they are in PDF:

June 28, 2010
http://www.aph.gov.au/hansard/senate/co ... S13202.pdf

June 29, 2010
http://www.aph.gov.au/hansard/senate/co ... S13212.pdf

Source:
Parliament of Australia: Senate: Committees: Economics: Tax Laws Amendment (Public Benefit Test) Bill 2010 - Public Hearings and Transcripts


Thanks to mnql1 on wwp for the heads up.

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Post by Sponge » Thu Jul 01, 2010 11:37 am

More News media after 2nd Day of Hearings....

1st July 2010
VIDEO: NineNews A Current Affair - Scientology Tax
YouTube version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pAf4W26-cKU


Time is running out for the Church of Scientology
article by Senator Nick Xenophon, in "The Punch" 2nd July 2010
http://www.thepunch.com.au/articles/tim ... ientology/

snippet....
Believe it or not, Senate Inquiries can generate all sorts of humorous exchanges.

A hearing earlier this week into the Tax Laws Amendment (Public Benefit Test) Bill generated so much laughter at one point, you could be forgiven for thinking you were watching ‘Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure’ instead.

...much more in article link...
A must read.
(Note: The cult's subsequent verbal explanation of the drop in NZ scientology income was apparently due to a one-off loan (from the end of the Channel9 ACA segment 2nd June 2010 ). No further detailed figures over and above their basic financial statements submitted to NZ Charity Commission have been produced).


A tax-free life is the holy grail, but churches might have to prove they're acting for our benefit
The Courier Mail 2nd July 2010
http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/opin ... 5886748805
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Post by Simonymous » Thu Jul 01, 2010 12:14 pm

Wow. During the hearings, one of the Senators asked Mike Ferris, "why was the earnings when you had tax-free status in NZ in the 2.7 million, but when you suddenly had to pay, your earnings were only 300k?" He stammered, hemmed and hawed, "uhhhhh... currency exchange rates?" The Senator actually LOL'd, then let Ferris know they're going to need a much better answer, he needs to rethink that excuse.

And so he did. On the interview above, they now say it involved a one-off loan from the United States.

A one-off loan!? WTF?? Since when does the church EVER lend money to anyone, any church, for any reason? Ferrying 1 mil per week to an old man in a motorhome doesn't count.

This is the first time I can actually see an end in sight. That might just have been too much. Like was said by someone in those hearings, possibly the guys from the Aus Christian lobby, Eliot Ness didn't get Al Capone for murder, he got him for tax evasion.

1-way ticket to Bulgravia, anyone???
“...the injuries that {Hubbard} handled by the use of Dianetics procedures were never handled, because they were injuries that never existed; therefore, Dianetics is based on a lie; therefore, Scientology is based on a lie.” --Tommy Davis

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Post by Sponge » Thu Jul 01, 2010 12:42 pm

Simonymous wrote:
Wow. During the hearings, one of the Senators asked Mike Ferris, "why was the earnings when you had tax-free status in NZ in the 2.7 million, but when you suddenly had to pay, your earnings were only 300k?" He stammered, hemmed and hawed, "uhhhhh... currency exchange rates?" The Senator actually LOL'd, then let Ferris know they're going to need a much better answer, he needs to rethink that excuse.

And so he did. On the interview above, they now say it involved a one-off loan from the United States.

A one-off loan!? WTF?? Since when does the church EVER lend money to anyone, any church, for any reason? Ferrying 1 mil per week to an old man in a motorhome doesn't count.

This is the first time I can actually see an end in sight. That might just have been too much. Like was said by someone in those hearings, possibly the guys from the Aus Christian lobby, Eliot Ness didn't get Al Capone for murder, he got him for tax evasion.

1-way ticket to Bulgravia, anyone???
This was brought up in the thread on WWP the other day during and after the hearings broadcast.
Discusion that started here:
http://forums.whyweprotest.net/318-sena ... ost1277737
It was suspected that it coincides with purchase of new Org property. i.e. the mother church seems to have loaned NZ Scientology the money to buy the building (2007) hence the high apparent income compared to 2008.
However there are no explanatory notes in the NZ balance sheets on the NZ Charities Commission website to explain this huge and very notable discrepancy. Also in the 2008 figures they claim over 3,000,000 in "exchange losses".

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Post by Sponge » Sat Jul 03, 2010 7:00 am


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Post by Sponge » Sun Jul 11, 2010 2:43 am

Last edited by Sponge on Tue Jul 27, 2010 2:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Sponge » Mon Jul 19, 2010 4:31 pm

Other sebsequent related NewsMedia/opinion....

"Bad religion"
ABC News "Drum Unleashed" blogs.
19th July 2010
Lucy Saunders is an Arts/Law student at the University of Sydney.
http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/stories/s2955597.htm

Nicely written article. Worth a read.

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Post by Sponge » Mon Aug 30, 2010 2:59 am

Whilst we're waiting for the delayed Senate committee report (moved to 7th September due to elections), it gets a wee mention in this article which itself is interesting because it calls for government to take senate committee reports more seriously. Note that due to the no overall majority in the election, the independents have much greater clout than they did before.

More power for parliamentary committee system
New rules to block the tax-free status of the Church of Scientology, greater scrutiny of liquidators and administrators, measures to stop sports match-fixing, and a new tax on horse owners are among future battles for the new Parliament.
The three regional independent MPs – Rob Oakeshott, Bob Katter and Tony Windsor – who will decide who will form government, have called for the major parties to take the parliamentary committee system more seriously.

[...]

There is no compulsion on a ruling government to accept a committee's recommendations but, in the new spirit of co-operation, some private members' bills proposed by independents or Greens may have a better chance of becoming law

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Post by Sponge » Tue Sep 07, 2010 7:22 am

Final report is out......


http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/committee/ ... /index.htm
Tax Laws Amendment (Public Benefit Test) Bill 2010
7 September 2010

© Commonwealth of Australia 2010
ISBN 978-1-74229-314-1

View the report as a single document - (PDF 1394KB)
http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/committee/ ... report.pdf

TodayTonight, Bryan Seymour reporting on the above published Senate committee inquiry....
VIDEO: http://vimeo.com/14762174
or Youtube version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HZi-LdGhLc

Image

Here's few juicy littte snippets from that Senate committee report....

A national commission

The Committee notes the previous inquiries conducted by parliamentary committees,
the Productivity Commission and the recent Henry Review. Notwithstanding their
work, there remains a serious lack of information in relation to the not-for-profit
sector; for example, estimates of the value of tax concessions range from $1 billion to
$8 billion.
The earlier inquiries all recommended various changes to the regulatory oversight of
the not-for-profit sector. The Committee believes the incoming government should
increase transparency and accountability in the sector. A national commission, which
incorporates a public benefit test in the broader regulatory framework, should be
established, consistent with international best practice.
The commission should not be regarded as an additional bureaucratic impost; it would
rather replace a complex array of state and territory regulatory bodies, streamlining
processes for charities and reducing their compliance costs. It would increase public
confidence in charities by improving their transparency as well as being a source of
advice and assistance to charities.
The Committee agrees with the view expressed to it that there comes a time when a
government has to make a decision either to do something or to stop saying that it is
going to do something, because the matter has been on the agenda for many years. It is
now time for action.

Recommendation
The Committee recommends that the incoming government work through
COAG to establish a single independent national commission for not-for-profit
organisations. The incoming government should establish a working group, or
use the COAG Business Regulation and Competition Working Group. The
working group should consult extensively with the sector in a timely manner to
address issues arising from the establishment of a commission which applies a
public benefit test. The Australian model should draw on the Charity
Commissions in the United Kingdom and New Zealand.


[... [list of bullet points: see report] ...]

A public benefit test

The Committee supports the application of a public benefit test in the context of
broader reform.
The Committee agrees, however, with the preference expressed by the Scrutiny of
Bills Committee that it would be better for a public benefit test to be in legislation,
where it would be subject to more parliamentary scrutiny, than be set by a minister
through regulations, as proposed by the bill.

Recommendation
The Committee recommends that the incoming government should follow the
emerging international best practice and work with the Council of Australian
Governments to amend legislation governing not-for-profit entities to include a
definition and test of 'public benefit'.



Cults

In relation to the activities of cult like organisations and the consequences for
individuals and society of failing to take steps to protect the community from
unacceptable behaviour by cult like organisations, the Committee believes that
sufficient evidence was put before it to suggest that the behaviour of cults should be
reviewed with a view to developing and implementing a policy on this issue that goes
beyond taxation law. The Committee notes the evidence in relation to the response of
the French government and the establishment of Miviludes.

Recommendation
The Committee recommends that the Attorney-General's Department provide a
report to the Committee on the operation of Miviludes and other law
enforcement agencies overseas tasked with monitoring and controlling the
unacceptable and/or illegal activities of cult-like organisations who use
psychological pressure and breaches of general and industrial law to maintain
control over individuals. The report should advise on the effectiveness of
Miviludes and other similar organisations, given issues that need to be addressed
to develop an international best practice approach for dealing with cult-like
behaviour.
Additional Comments by Senator Xenophon

Introduction

1.1 There have been numerous inquiries into the not-for-profit sector over the past
decade, all consistently calling for reform of regulation of the not-for-profit sector in
order to ensure greater transparency and accountability.

1.2 This Senate inquiry was a beneficial and successful opportunity to continue
this discussion and heard from a range of experts, charities and religions and members
of the public through the submissions and public hearings process.

1.3 The Committee's recommendations for the establishment of a single
independent national commission for not-for-profit organisations, similar to the
Charity Commission for England and Wales; and for the Government to inquire into
the operation of MILVILUDES in France to learn how it monitors the activities of
cults, with a view to establish a similar agency in Australia, should both be initiated as
soon as possible.

The need for reform

1.4 Not-for-profit organisations, including charities and religions, are currently
afforded tax exempt status due to the presumption that they provide the community
with services and assistance that is of benefit. Subsequently, these entities are not
required to lodge income tax returns unless otherwise specified.

1.5 According to the Mr Michael Hardy, Assistant Commissioner of Taxation
with the Australian Tax Office,
"There are about 55,000 organisations that have some sort of charitable tax
concession endorsement. We receive around 6,000 applications per year,
which are reviewed."

1.6 Of those, however, Mr Hardy acknowledged that, given resource limitations,
not all of these applications are closely scrutinised.
"There is certainly a fast tracked assessment process. Realistically, with the
staff available and to work through the number of applications per year,
perhaps in the order of 70 percent of applications work through the risk
assessment as being relatively fast processed through the system. Some of
those are tagged for subsequent, after-the-event review. The remaining ones
would be subject to more careful scrutiny upon application.

1.7 Perhaps more concerning, however, is that charities and religions are also able
to self-assess their income tax status and may therefore be income tax exempt and
operate completely unknown to the Tax Office.

[...[quotes: see report]...]

The need for a Public Benefit Test

1.10 The Senate inquiry heard from a number of former members of the Church of
Scientology, an organisation which is provided with charitable status in Australia and
is thereby income tax exempt.

1.11 These individuals recounted their experiences while they were members of the
organisation, and explained why, based on their experiences, they do not believe the
organisation should be tax exempt.

Some examples of the evidence provided include:

Mr Anderson—One should be able to clearly identify groups who do good
works, because they see the results. If one cannot see those results, that
particular group should be deemed to be highly suspect and should be
treated as such. I guarantee if you asked the same taxpayer what good
works Scientology do and what they are known for, they would actually
struggle to give you an answer. I know I do. That was one of the things I
found very difficult to reconcile in my association with Scientology over 25
years. I in fact found them to be quite self-serving and not really directed at
the external environment.

Mrs Underwood—… as a former Scientologist I believe that the Church of
Scientology is a prime example of why this tax amendment is required. As I
outlined in detail in the attachment to my submission, the Church of
Scientology is a tax-exempt organisation which, one, enjoys tax-exempt
status while it only serves itself at the detriment of others. It does not even
serve its members. Its members actually serve it. Two, it is fraudulent. It
deceives and heavily coerces its people in order to obtain so-called
donations. It often does not deliver what is promised, and in some cases it
uses those funds for purposes other than what is stated. This is fraud and it
is a crime. Three, it is an organisation which threatens its people with ‘pay
up or else’. This is extortion.4

Ms Vonthehoff—The experiences include bullying and harassment; two
coerced abortions; Scientology justice procedures, including court hearings
resulting in removal of freedoms; forced financial donations; severe
financial stress; working a minimum of 40 hours and up to 70 hours a week
for no pay; removal of my Australian passport while studying for
Scientology in the US, so I was unable to leave; working under duress all
night on many occasions while my young children were forced to stay at
the office and sleep on the lounge; threats of loss of my family if I tried to
leave; psychological abuse; being forced to sign a suicide waiver, freeing
Scientology of all responsibility if I caused myself any harm, when I made
it clear how much I wanted to leave; and interrogation regarding my
personal life and sex life.

1.12 The Committee's recommendation that a Public Benefit Test, such as the one
proposed in the Tax Laws Amendment (Public Benefit Test) Bill 2010, will therefore
ensure that an organisation's aims and activities are for the 'public good' and is
weighed against any harm caused, such as the test in effect in the United Kingdom.

1.13 Furthermore, the recommendation that the Government provide a report into
the operation of France's MILVILUDES agency (which monitors the operation of cultlike
organisations), and similar international bodies, with a view to establishing a similar
agency in Australia, will ensure that cult-like activities are closely monitored and
appropriate laws are introduced to combat these groups who use psychological
pressure and breaches of general and industrial law to maintain control over
individuals.

1.12 The Committee's recommendation that a Public Benefit Test, such as the one
proposed in the Tax Laws Amendment (Public Benefit Test) Bill 2010, will therefore
ensure that an organisation's aims and activities are for the 'public good' and is
weighed against any harm caused, such as the test in effect in the United Kingdom.

1.13 Furthermore, the recommendation that the Government provide a report into
the operation of France's MILVILUDES agency (which monitors the operation of cultlike
organisations), and similar international bodies, with a view to establishing a similar
agency in Australia, will ensure that cult-like activities are closely monitored and
appropriate laws are introduced to combat these groups who use psychological
pressure and breaches of general and industrial law to maintain control over
individuals.

Conclusion

1.14 The Committee's recommendations go further than the scope of the Tax Laws
Amendment (Public Benefit Test) Bill 2010, by recommending a Charities
Commission using a Public Benefit Test to provide appropriate and fair scrutiny of
not-for-profit organisations and, with this, much greater protection for individuals.

1.15 Given some of the horrific stories heard within the Inquiry, it is important that
any legislation to establish a Charities Commission and/or a MILVILUDES
equivalent in Australia be introduced as soon as possible and by no later than 30 June
2011.

Nick Xenophon
Independent Senator for South Australia
* - MIVILUDES DEFINITION

More newsmedia:
TodayTonight, Bryan Seymour reporting on the above published Senate committee inquiry....
VIDEO: http://vimeo.com/14762174
or Youtube version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HZi-LdGhLc
Bipartisan support for charities commission
A federal parliamentary committee has recommended the creation of a charities commission.
ABC News 7th Sept 2010
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010 ... 005360.htm
Senate Inquiry Recommends Charity Commission
Probono News, Australia
http://www.probonoaustralia.com.au/news ... commission
WikiNews:
Australian Senate Committee recommends formation of Charities Commission
http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Australian_ ... Commission
USRadio News: (cites above wikinews article)
http://usradionews.net/2010/09/08/austr ... ommission/
ABC News "PM"
Inquiry recommends a national charities commission
AUDIO: http://www.abc.net.au/news/audio/2010/0 ... ?site=news
Transcript: http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2010/s3006390.htm
The Australian....
Charities may have to 'open books' to prove they benefit community
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/na ... 5916111900
ABC News 24 - Breakfast on Senate Report - 9/9/10
VIDEO: http://vimeo.com/14815485 or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfLm5tttriY
The Age summarizes....
Call for independent charities commission
http://www.theage.com.au/national/call- ... 1570g.html

Blogs:
http://offdainnertube.blogspot.com/2010 ... arity.html
Jonny Jacobsen: http://infinitecomplacency.blogspot.com ... _3517.html
Dialogue Ireland: http://dialogueireland.wordpress.com/20 ... ir-report/

------------------------------------------------------------
Parallel discussion thread in the Opinions & Debate section:
viewtopic.php?p=381365#381365
Other discussion forums:
REDDIT: [TodayTonight/video] OZ Clamps Down On Charity Tax Hustlers .....
WWP: http://forums.whyweprotest.net/15-media ... 10-a-71444
WWP: http://forums.whyweprotest.net/318-sena ... ost1318120
ESMB: http://www.forum.exscn.net/showthread.php?t=19756
Last edited by Sponge on Sun Sep 12, 2010 4:40 pm, edited 25 times in total.

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Albion
Posts: 120
Joined: Fri Nov 17, 2006 7:16 pm
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Post by Albion » Tue Sep 07, 2010 5:31 pm

Write-up posted at Infinite Complacency:

http://infinitecomplacency.blogspot.com ... _3517.html

Jonny Jacobsen

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