Live export opponents Animals Australia could lose access to generous Commonwealth tax concessions over its dealings with whistleblowers, with the charities watchdog investigating the claims “as a priority,” The West Australian reports.
In an extraordinary departure from the silence that usually shrouds the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission’s investigations into potential charity wrongdoings, commissioner Gary Johns has confirmed that the animal rights group’s activities are being reviewed.
In a letter, obtained by The West Australian, Dr Johns said that complaints about payments allegedly made by Animals Australia’s operatives in exchange for footage of animal cruelty on live export ships were being taken seriously.
“While I cannot discuss the ACNC’s involvement in the matter you have raised, I can confirm that the ACNC is aware of the serious issues and allegations raised in the media recently regarding the charity’s representations offering financial compensation to individuals able to provide footage of animal cruelty in the live export trade,” Dr Johns wrote.
“The ACNC are reviewing these allegations as a priority.”
Animals Australia’s legal counsel, Shatha Hamade, said they were yet to receive a formal notification from the ACNC of an investigation. They were confident the probe into the gathering of footage aboard the Awassi Express would “affirm the veracity of the evidence and the conduct of Animals Australia”.
Charity watchdog to probe into Animals Australia over live-export whistleblowers (The West Australian)