“This is a victory for common sense and for democracy in New Zealand. We always believed that the Charities Commission was wrong in going after charities that were involved in some level of political advocacy which they didn’t agree with,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ
The Charities Commission sought to deregister Family First as a charity after the recent same-sex marriage debate. Family First appealed to the High Court and a hearing has been on hold while waiting for a decision from the Greenpeace case which would set a precedent for similar cases.
“In our case, it wasn’t our research, education and advocacy work that changed. It was the view of the Charities Commission that changed. Part of the problem has been the subjective interpretation of the definition of a charity. But many groups involved in public issues will have a political involvement when politicians are changing laws and introducing policy that affects the supporters and focus of the charity concerned. It is right that charities should be able to speak in to the debates.”
Family First has instructed their lawyers to immediately apply to the Charities Commission to drop the deregistration action against Family First NZ, or to bring the hearing forward so the matter can be resolved immediately.
“Based on the precedent set and the common sense approach of the Supreme Court, we would hope that the Commission would save both itself and us the legal costs of continuing their fight against us.”