Family First have helpfully posted online the full text of the letter and decisions informing Bob McCoskrie of his deregistration as a charity. I’m not sure why he thought this would be a good idea – maybe he just copy-pastes things on autopilot these days – but we should all be thankful for the lulz.
Note: IANAL. The following is based on my own reading of the linked document and I am happy to be corrected in matters of fact.
10. One of the precedent cases cited by the Charities Commission is Draco. (properly In re Draco Foundation (NZ) Charitable Trust HC WN CIV 2010-485-1275)
This makes sentences like “Draco also approved comments in the guidelines published by the Charities Commission” just really funny in a post-Harry Potter age.
9. Copy-pasta strikes again!
“But, but we educate people!” Family First cried, and indeed, educational purposes are a fantastic ground for charitable status. Unfortunately – and this one gets three numbers all to itself because it’s so awesome – the Charities Registration Board doesn’t think much of the “education” offered by their website:
… the Board considers that, viewed holistically, the Trust’s publications to its website are predominantly opinion pieces intended to promote the Trust’s point of view on controversial social issues. The Board considers that this description is apt for the news items and media releases.
8. Your book reports suck
Research! Family First does research, right? Wrong:
Thirdly, the Board considers that the research papers commissioned by the Trust do not advance an educational purpose and do constitute propaganda
The papers do not represent original research. With the exception of The Value of Family … the reports (i) do not … provide a balanced and rigorous analysis of the empirical evidence for conclusions reported; and (ii) do contain emotive language and calls to action, and engagement with alternative points of view that is fairly polemical.
7. Whatever you paid Curia, it was too much
Specifically, the Board considers that the Trust’s activities in commissioning polls do not advance research but rather canvas support for political outcomes advocated by the Trust
Ooops! Who’d'a thunk it?
6. If Family First actually gave a fuck about real families, they’d have done better.
A big issue in the consideration of whether an organisation counts as charitable, when it’s saying political things, is the self-evident public good as a matter of law. The example they use is that saying you promote peace through disarmament doesn’t count, because disarmament-for-disarmament’s-sake isn’t really a matter of law. Promoting peace through eliminating weapons of mass destruction does count because WMDs are obviously something our law recognises as bad, mmkay.
Unfortunately for Family First:
In particular, the Board rejects the submission that the Trust’s point of view accords with New Zealand’s international and domestic law recognising the rights of the child and support for families. Neither New Zealand’s international law obligations nor New Zealand’s domestic law favour “the natural family” over other forms of family
Yep. Promoting one narrow-minded view of the family doesn’t align with our domestic and international laws. Maybe if Family First actually bothered to advocate on behalf of all families they’d have done better.
5. That’s just, like, your opinion, maaaaaaaaan
Family First have copy-pasted an “affirmation” from the “World Congress of [limited definitions of] Families” to describe their views. The whole point of calling it an “affirmation”, of course, is that saying “I affirm the sky is green” sounds a lot more forceful and definitive than “I believe the sky is green.”
The Board considers that the Trust’s perspective on family can be fairly described as an opinion on what is best for families and civil society.
The Board also considers that the Trust’s perspective on family is one that is controversial in the relevant sense, i.e. that its benefit to the public is not self-evident as a matter of law.
4. You must be deregistered for the greater good of all charities
After summing up how Family First doesn’t meet the requirements of a charitable organisation:
Accordingly, the Board considers that it is in the public interest to remove the Trust from the register as this will maintain public trust and confidence in the charitable sector.
Yep. I know, I know, it’s just formulaic legalese, but by Satan and all his little wizards I love the idea that the public of New Zealand will have less faith in / respect for charitable organisations if Family First remains one.
3. Three strikes and you’re out
This is not simply a matter of Family First forgetting to do some paperwork. They have been deregistered for failing all three tests the Board has put to them:
- Their purpose is to promote a point of view
- They aren’t promoting religion nor education
- They are trying to “procure governmental actions”, i.e. make policy changes, in line with their views
Not even a couple of sausage sizzles for the orphans could have saved them.
2. The fact that Family First deliberately avoids mentioning the fundamentalist Judeo-Christian basis of their beliefs is part of their undoing.
Because while it looks way better to J Public to pretend that you’re just defending “tradition” instead of “extremist teachings which conflict with pretty much everything Jesus had to say about anything”, unfortunately when you’re trying to avoid paying taxes by claiming you’re a religious outfit, it kinda damages your case to never have mentioned religion anywhere in your many many websites.
1. Bob McCoskrie apparently has no idea how much he’s undermined himself by publishing this document.
Seriously. Anyone with high-school graduate literacy can read the entire thing, and – barring the technical legal jargon – understand absolutely why Family First was deregistered. Because they don’t promote education. Because they’re a political lobby group without even a smattering of charitable deeds to their name. Because their views are not actually as mainstream as they constantly insist they are.