Nationals Leader David Littleproud is calling for a review of the charitable status of the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF).
Mr Littleproud has asked Charities Commissioner Sue Woodward to investigate the ACF, following an intimidatory letter that was sent to a NSW farmer.
Nationals Member for Parkes Mark Coulton raised the plight of the farmer – a constituent – in parliament.
“We’re getting a balance at the moment between conserving vital, significant vegetation and making farms more productive,” Mr Coulton said.
“This particular constituent had undergone some land clearing on their property, and had done so in a perfectly legal and sensible way according to the rules before receiving the letter from the ACF.
“The ACF need to pull their head in quite frankly, and I said as much in my speech in Parliament. Threats are not acceptable, and it is not the role of a foundation to do the work of the appropriate government department.”
The ACF’s letter demands answers to what it calls “potentially illegal land clearing.” It threatens to “take this matter further” and make “public statements about the clearing.”
Mr Littleproud said the letter was intimidatory and came despite the ACF having no proof or knowledge about the property and having no right to interfere with personal property or defame members of the community.
“The tone of ACF’s letter is clearly intimidatory,” Mr Littleproud said.
“The ACF has a charitable status and I’m calling on the Charities Commissioner to step in and ensure that the ACF is adhering to the rules of what a charity status is.
“I have written directly to the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) about this concerning issue, particularly whether the letter breaches ACF’s obligations under Governance Standard five.
“A registered charity must always act in responsible manner with care and diligence in all its activities.
“I believe the ACF’s conduct now needs to be reviewed, to ensure it is meeting its behavioural responsibilities as a charity. The interference of the ACF should not be tolerated by ordinary Australians.”
Mr Littleproud added activist groups such as the ACF were becoming increasingly emboldened in the face of Labor’s anti-farming agenda and had started to take the law into their own hands, as if they are nature’s police force.
“Australia already has some of the world’s strictest native vegetation protection laws, set through state governments, that had been internationally recognised and credited for meeting our Kyoto commitment.
“The states already impose strict vegetation regulative frameworks on farmers through punitive vegetation protection laws. Farmers are in fact among the most nurturing people of all when it comes to the environment. ACF’s bullying is an overreach and must be stopped.”