29 May 2015


Environmental charities give voice to Australia’s unique wildlife and natural wonders, and efforts to restrict them from speaking out would lead to poorer environmental economic and social outcomes and diminish Australia’s democracy.

That’s one of the key findings of a submission from WWF-Australia to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on the Environment Inquiry into the Register of Environmental Organisations. The submission (attached below) was tabled today.

WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman said protection of the Great Barrier Reef and Australia’s natural wonders and wildlife depends on community and environmental charities that give them a voice.

“WWF-Australia, with our supporters, has for decades worked to protect places like the Great Barrier Reef,” Mr O’Gorman said.

“We focus on solutions. Our work on the ground with scientists, traditional owners, local communities, farmers and fishers enables us to inform and educate the public and business on environmental challenges and to advocate for better government policies."

“Giving a voice to places like the Great Barrier Reef is critical to peoples’ livelihoods - it supports nearly 70,000 jobs and contributes $6 billion to Australia’s economy each year."

“While a small set of vested interests may find it inconvenient when charities like WWF speak out, it’s critical that we give voice to Australia’s natural places and wildlife."

“From John Howard’s expansion of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Bob Hawke’s rejection of mining in Antarctica, to Malcolm Fraser’s ending of sand mining on Fraser Island, Governments of both sides have committed to positive environmental outcomes as a result of campaigns to educate and inform the public.”

WWF-Australia’s President Rob Purves said millions of Australians care deeply about a wide range of charitable causes.

“Australians expect a robust public conversation in which charitable organisations have a responsibility to inform and educate on a wide range of issues - whether they be environmental or related to health, cancer, poverty reduction, disability, human rights and welfare."

“To single out environmental charities with specific legislation, or to penalise taxpayers based on who they donate to, would be discriminatory and a restraint on our proud and open democracy."

“It is a sobering fact that Australia has the worst record of any continent on Earth for biodiversity decline and that’s why it is so important that voices for the environment are not muzzled."

“Our unique places and the animals that call them home will only be there for future generations to enjoy if strong voices stand up today to protect them.”

WWF's submission is available on the Australian Parliament website here

WWF-Australia Media Contact:

Daniel Rockett, National Media Manager