Media Release 7 April 2016
Family First NZ has received notification that the government’s Charities Board still wants to deregister the charitable organisation despite a decision in the Wellington High Court in 2015 to allow Family First’s appeal against deregistration.
The notice says; “(W)e do not consider that the Trust continues to qualify for registration as it has an independent purpose to promote and protect the traditional family and this is not charitable.”
“This latest development will have a chilling effect for many charitable groups – both registered, deregistered and wanting to be registered – who advocate for causes, beliefs, and on behalf of their supporters, and often have to engage in political activity, not always through choice but through necessity,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“It appears that the Charities Board wish to revisit the High Court decision and seek to obtain a different result from the court. The Board may hope that rather than face another round in the High Court, Family First will fold its tent and quietly retreat. Once again, supporters of Family First will have to dig deep to legally defend the organisation’s existence.”
In the Wellington High Court decision last year, Justice Collins recognised the strength of Family First’s argument that its advocacy for the concept “…of the traditional family is analogous to organisations that have advocated for the ‘mental and moral improvement’ of society.… Members of the Charities Board may personally disagree with the views of Family First, but at the same time recognise there is a legitimate analogy between its role and those organisations that have been recognised as charities.”
“It continues to disturb us that any charity that speaks up on issues which are deemed incorrect by the political elite are in danger of being penalised. An easy way for opponents of a point of view is for them to use the Charities Board to muzzle them. Family First’s traditional view of marriage being one man and one woman was cited as one of the reasons for the earlier attempts at deregistration.”
“Family First gained approval as a charity, has also passed two ‘audits’ – one as recently as 2010 – and has made no change to the nature of our operations over the ten years of its existence. It appears that only the opinion of the government organisation overseeing charities has changed,” says Mr McCoskrie.
Family First is seeking legal advice and will vigorously fight any attempts to deregister it.