Lost Freedoms

Meg Pickup, Ballina

The Turnbull government has oppressive legislation intended to constrain the work of charities and weaken our democracy. The Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Bill was altered at the last minute to exclude charities following extensive community pressure.

Charities’ ability to hold the government to account is now limited by the Espionage and Foreign Interference Bill. For example if it were reported internationally that charities had alleged the government were downplaying the impact a domestic policy had on global commitments such as emissions reduction targets or processing asylum seekers these charities could face espionage charges.

The Foreign Donations Bill (or Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) could silence charities that speak out and impose onerous administrative paperwork thus limiting charities’ fundraising abilities and expose charities to severe penalties for non-compliance (10 years imprisonment and civil penalties of up to $210,000). What is the Australian government frightened of that they propose legislation designed to silence dissent–the hallmark of a robust democracy? Lost freedoms are difficult to regain.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Become a supporter of The Echo

A note from the editorial team

Some of The Echo’s editorial team: journalists Paul Bibby and Aslan Shand, editor Hans Lovejoy, photographer Jeff Dawson and Mandy Nolan

The Echo has never underestimated the intelligence and passion of its readers. In a world of corporate banality and predictability, The Echo has worked hard for more than 30 years to help keep Byron and the north coast unique with quality local journalism and creative ideas. We think this area needs more voices, reasoned analysis and ideas than just those provided by News Corp, lifestyle mags, Facebook groups and corporate newsletters.

The Echo is one hundred per cent locally owned and one hundred per cent independent. As you have probably gathered from what is happening in the media industry, it is not cheap to produce a weekly newspaper and a daily online news service of any quality.

We have always relied entirely on advertising to fund our operations, but often loyal readers who value our local, independent journalism have asked how they could help ensure our survival.

Any support you can provide to The Echo will make an enormous difference. You can make a one-off contribution or a monthly one. With your help, we can continue to support a better informed local community and a healthier democracy for another 30 years.”

Echonetdaily is made possible by the support of all of our advertisers and is brought to you by this week's sponsors Vast Furniture & Homewares Ballina and Falls Festival Byron Bay.