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Government signals harsher penalties against charities supporting unlawful behaviour

The government is moving to add trespassing, unlawful entry, malicious damage or vandalism, and threatening violence to what is currently considered unlawful charity activity, in a bid to crack down on “activist organisations masquerading as charities”.

Assistant Minister for Charities Zed Seselja said that while charities are prohibited from engaging in conduct that may be dealt with either as an indictable offence under Australian law, or by way of a civil penalty, many other unlawful areas were not covered.

“The Morrison government is taking the very reasonable step to strengthen the existing regulation,” Seselja said.

He said that the government “strongly supports” the right to peaceful, lawful protest, but that some organisations were using their charitable status to commit unlawful acts.

Under the new regulations, offences including trespass, unlawful entry, malicious damage or vandalism, or threatening violence will be made unlawful. Charities will also be prohibited from using their resources to promote or support others in such unlawful activities.

To view the media release from Senator the Hon. Zed Seselja in full, click here.

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