Charities whose members trespass or engage in illegal blockades will be stripped of their registration as the federal government steps up its war against "anarchists".

Possessing a culture that tolerated illegal behaviour such as using resources to encourage unlawful activities would also result in the loss of generous tax benefits afforded to registered charities under the proposed tough new regulations.

A year after Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke of "absolutist activism" or "anarchism … testing the limits of the right to protest", the government is releasing new charity standards.

The government believes the hard-line approach will weed out activist groups "masquerading" as charities.

Under existing laws, charities can be deregistered for engaging in conduct such as those that would ordinarily lead to a prison sentence.

Alix Livingstone from Aussie Farms which was deregistered as a charity.
Alix Livingstone from Aussie Farms which was deregistered as a charity.


The proposed regulation add a raft of new offences, including trespassing, malicious damage and vandalism and threatening violence.

A charity engaging in any of the new offences will be regarded as being in breach of governance standards set by the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission.

Assistant Finance, Charities and Electoral Matters Minister Zed Seselja said charity groups receiving tax concessions to undertake "charitable work" only to engage in unlawful behaviour would no longer be tolerated.

"We've seen a number of charities in recent years who effectively are activist groups - and that's fine to an extent, but when they break the law there is a line to be drawn," Mr Seselja said.

The regulations follow the deregistration of Aussie Farms as a charity in 2019 after it encouraged the invasion of farmers' homes and properties and the sabotaging of their businesses.

The Bob Brown Foundation, which is alleged to have engaged in more than 30 illegal forests protests and workplace invasions in Tasmania since January 2018, was also reported to the ACNC in June last year.

Other organisations that could potentially be impacted include Greenpeace, which has in recent years engaged in activities such as illegally boarding a coal terminal and vandalising a power station.

The National Farmers' Federation has been calling for stronger action from the government, with CEO Tony Mahar claiming "radical, fringe anti-farm" groups invading farms had put the safety of farming families and their animals at risk.

The proposed new standards will be put out for public consultation early next year.

Originally published as Morrison targets law-breaking charities


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