Greenpeace ad is electioneering

September 8, 2014

The High Court has supported the Electoral Commission’s contention that a Greenpeace advertisement is electioneering.

The High Court in Wellington has today released a judgment in two cases filed concerning decisions of the Electoral Commission (Greenpeace of New Zealand Inc & Ors v Electoral Commission CIV-2014-485-8997) and (Greenpeace of New Zealand Inc v Electoral Commission CIV-2014-485-8998).

In the first case, Greenpeace and others were seeking a statutory declaration that the Climate Voter website was not an election advertisement under section 3A of the Electoral Act 1993. The Court rejected Greenpeace’s arguments and said that the website that the Electoral Commission considered when providing its advisory opinion was an election advertisement for the purposes of the Electoral Act.

In the second case, regarding a Greenpeace website criticising Simon Bridges, the Court has declared that the website was not an election advertisement as it related to his role as Minister of Energy and could not reasonably be regarded as encouraging or persuading people not to vote for a candidate or party.

The Electoral Commission will need to carefully consider the judgment and discuss the implications of the decision further with Greenpeace and others.

No further comment will be made while the judgment is under consideration . . .

Of course the advertisement was electioneering.

It was clearly aimed at persuading people to vote the way Greenpeace and its fellow travellers wanted them to.


Currency traders aren’t charities

June 25, 2014

Remember Greenpeace fighting to retain its charitable status for tax purposes?

. . . Environmental and peace organisation Greenpeace is arguing its political advocacy should not disqualify it from having charitable status.

Greenpeace is one of many organisations that lost its charitable status – which has tax implications – in the wake of a law change in 2005. . .

Whether its political advocacy is charitable is debatable but I doubt anyone would think an organisation big enough to sustain a loss of $5.9 million in curency trading is a charity.

Greenpeace International has acknowledged losing 3.8 million euros ($5.9 million) on a bet the euro would not strengthen against other currencies in 2013- but it did.

The environmental group, which is based in Amsterdam, said the money was lost by an employee who acted beyond the limits of his authority but had hoped to benefit the organization. . .

In a statement Monday, Greenpeace apologized for the blunder to supporters and donors and said it was studying what went wrong.

It said it would absorb the loss over a period of several years by trimming “infrastructure investments.” . . .

The organisation and its supporters on the left put a lot of energy into opposing “big” business – but any organisation which can absorb that magnitude is a big business.

What’s more it’s one which has put its carbon footprint in its mouth.

 One of Greenpeace’s most senior executives commutes 400km each way to work by plane, the environmental group has admitted.

Pascal Husting, the programme director at Greenpeace International, said he began “commuting between Luxembourg and Amsterdam” when he took the job in 2012 and made the round trip about twice a month.

The flights, costing 250 ($390) return, are paid by Greenpeace, even though it campaigns to cut air travel, arguing the growth in flying “is ruining our chances of stopping dangerous climate change”.

One volunteer described the arrangement as “almost unbelievable”. Another was going to cancel their donation after a series of disclosures about financial mismanagement in documents leaked to the Guardian newspaper. . .

Two return flights a month might not be a lot but it gives them a do-as-we-say-not-as-we-do appearance.


Cost recovery for consular support

January 5, 2014

Australia is considering asking Greenpeace to pay the costs for consular support provided to the Arctic 30.

. . . Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Australian taxpayers were entitled to ask why they should be covering the cost of assisting Australian activist Colin Russell to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars.

“It took a huge effort and a lot of money to get this guy out and the Australian taxpayer paid for it,” Ms Bishop said yesterday.

“If it is a deliberate strategy designed to provoke a response and potentially to risk breaking the laws of another country, the question of cost recovery does arise.” . .

There is a big difference between people requiring consular support through no fault of their own and those who deliberately court trouble.

It isn’t unreasonable to expect the latter to contribute to the costs incurred.


Definitely not a charity

July 17, 2013

Greenpeace has started a billboard campaign attacking Energy Minister Simon Bridges.

This is the organisation which complained about losing its charitable status for tax purposes because it was really a political organisation.

This is the organisation which spent more on national campaigns and lifted its contribution to head office in Amsterdam after a jump in its fundraising surplus.

The group’s 2012 annual report shows it raised $5.4 million in calendar 2012, from $4.87 million a year earlier. That’s the second-best year for fund raising in at least a decade after the group raised $5.76 million in 2010. . . .

The net surplus for the year slipped to $541,094 from $549,009 as Greenpeace NZ lifted campaign spending by 5.7 percent to $1.78 million and raised its contribution to Greenpeace International by 12 percent to $2.15 million. That’s expected to fall back to $1.8 million, or around 20 percent of 2011 gross revenue. . . .

The organisation can do what it likes with the money it raises, but it can’t pretend a significant amount of its activities aren’t political rather than being largely charitable.

 


There’s charity and there’s lobbying

May 8, 2013

Family First is unhappy it has lost its charitable status which means donations to it won’t be tax deductible.

The Charities Registration Board has ruled that Family First’s main purpose is political, rather than charitable, and that it will lose its charitable status unless it appeals to the High Court by May 27.

Family First director Bob McCoskrie said the organisation was being penalised for its leading role in the campaign against legalising gay marriage, which was passed by Parliament on April 17. . . .

I don’t think that’s the case. Greenpeace lost its charitable status for the same reason – its primary focus is political.

But I do think there is a question over why some groups qualify and some don’t:

Deemed to be charitable
Amnesty International
Child Poverty Action Group
National Council of Women
Society for Promotion of Community Standards

Deemed to be political
Family First
NZ Council for Civil Liberties
Save Our Arts Centre Society (Christchurch)
Sensible Sentencing Trust

There’s little difference in what the public see of the Child Poverty Action Group and Family First.

Both appear to put most if not all of their efforts into lobbying and advocacy which is by its nature is political.

Political parties can’t get charitable status and nor should political lobby groups.

They will still be free to lobby on behalf of their supporters but they’ll be doing it without support from the public purse by way of tax deductions on donations.


The cost of renewable energy

February 12, 2013

Greenpeace doesn’t think its important to address the costs in its report on on renewable energy.

In answer to a question from Nikki Kaye on advice he’d received on the proposition of a 40 percent reduction in emissions by 2020 and whether a 100 percent renewable electricity supply would be achievable then-Minister for Climate Change Issues, Nick Smith, said:

. . . I am advised that that would require, first, the writing-off of $4.5 billion of thermal generation assets. It would also require $11 billion for the replacement capacity of 2,500 megawatts, and $2 billion for additional renewable peaking stations needed to ensure security of supply in a dry year. This amounts to a total capital cost of $17.5 billion, excluding the additional transmission investment that would be required, and this would amount to a 30 percent increase in the power price for all consumers. Going 100 percent renewable would also require the equivalent of another seven Clyde Dams to be built by 2020. I do not describe $17.5 billion, a 30 percent power price increase, and seven Clyde Dams as being easy.

New Zealand is blessed with plentiful supplies of water and already have a high proportion of hydro electricity.

But many of the people who want more renewable energy are also opposed to more hydro generation and it would be difficult to find anyone who thought a 30% increase in power charges for everyone was acceptable.


At what cost?

February 11, 2013

Around 10,000 jobs could be created if New Zealand boosted its use of renewable energy.

. . . Chief policy advisor Nathan Argent said key findings show that the clean energy sector could give the country a much needed boost in the economy and create 10,000 jobs.

He said the findings estimate that the geothermal industry could be worth $4 billion per year to the economy by 2030 and the use of bio-energy – rather than importing oil – could save almost $7 billion per year. . .

That’s the good news in a report commissioned by Greenpeace – but there aredoubts over the figures:

Energy News editor Gavin Evans said although the research is good at highlighting what needs to be done, the job creation numbers were not reliable.

Energy analyst, Bryan Leyland was also sceptical about the findings and said they were completely unrealistic.

Jason Krupp at Stuff notes:

. . .  Where the report stumbles is on the financial side, giving no detail on the level of investment required or the economic tradeoffs, making it impossible to judge if the transformation would be worthwhile or simply a pyrrhic environmental victory.

Argent said this was a deliberate choice, with the aim of the report to spark a discussion rather than getting too bogged down in the numbers.

About  which Agnito at The Visible Hand in Economics says:

Which basically means this report tells us nothing….

As a side note, as an economist I would replace “financial side” with “opportunity cost”  as it it’s not just “money” trade offs that need to be considered…social, environmental, and any other metric that will be part of the cost need to be considered. You can’t just look at non-monetary gains on the benefit side and ignore them on the cost side.

Exactly.

It’s not hard to create jobs but creating jobs which justify all the costs is a far more difficult and complex matter.

The report mentions geothermal and bio-energy. Jobs would also be created by the development of hydro or wind generation, which are renewable but they always attract opposition  from people who don’t think the gains outweigh the costs.

The deliberate absence of financial or economic considerations merely confirms the fears of those who are sceptical of green, and often Green, campaigns which concentrate on the environment in isolation without taking into account economic and social concerns.


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