Passing Bull 210 – Angry church goers

 

According to the press, people of the church of the religion, if not the denomination, espoused by our head of state have opposed the proposed legislative provisions relating to murder in New South Wales by making provision for abortion.  A reasonable provision to that effect would I think be supported by a comfortable majority of people in that state.  But some people of faith take the view that they have no room to move on the moral issue of murder.   It is in my view sad when debate on a political issue of some nicety is shut down for some by religious dogma.  If people of another faith sought to produce that result, the outrage would be deafening.  That is something to be borne in mind by people of one faith – perhaps of one denomination of one faith – seeking to flex their muscles on the political stage.  But it is preposterous to argue, as some reportedly do, that the relevant laws should be left alone because they are not enforced.  People who embrace that form of inanity may wish to revisit Measure for Measure.

There is a similar flight from reality on requiring priests to report confessions of paedophiles.  My Catholic friends say that this is a non-issue because guilty priests do not confess.  They will be even less likely to confess if that confession must be reported to the police.  So, what is the problem?  Gerard Henderson says this is ‘symbolic politics’:

The Victorian government is giving comfort to the anti-Catholic sectarians in our midst without bringing about a situation where a paedophile is likely to be identified or a child protected.

Sworn evidence that a priest had reportedly confessed to these crimes over many years is dismissed on the footing that the ‘claim was not taken seriously.’  If there is some feeling against that denomination, it can be put down to the horror of the crimes committed in its name and this cold, blind refusal to accept responsibility for those crimes by doing all they can to ensure they will stop.

The notion that a church should or could be above the law is not on.  At this time in our history, the suggestion is revolting.  We need a secular society to monitor the claims, privileges and standing of bodies claiming to be religious.

Bloopers

They [the views of Tim Costello on refugees and ‘our hostility to boat people] matter, in part, because of the policy debate and the constant risk that this nation might again think, as it did in 2008, that it can relax its policies, and therefore, inadvertently, trigger resurgence in human drama.

But they matter also, and perhaps more importantly, because I think they misunderstand and slander mainstream Australians.

Chris Kenny, The Weekend Australian, 3-4 August, 2019.

Does anyone really believe that to comment on our hostility to boat people defames Australians?  To defame someone is to say something about them that causes ordinary people to think less of them.  Is that what a comment about our hostility to boat people does?  Is it possible that the policy of both major parties defames God?

**

When asked about the observation by Banking Royal Commissioner Kenneth Hayne that the use of slogans is undermining institutions in the place of policy debate, the PM said: ‘Well, I did stop the boats and people who do have a go get a go under my policies, so I think that’s a pretty good plan.  Cheers.’

Australian Financial Review, 10-11 August, 2019 (Laura Tingle).

Quod erat demonstrandum.

Passing Bull 209 – Alarmists

 

In one tribunal where I sat, the internal loo had a sign on the door: ‘This door is alarmed.’  I had to stop asking myself who had done what to alarm it.  Have you noticed that people who accuse others of being ‘activists’ are also prone to accuse others of being ‘alarmists’?  I say ‘accuse’ because the word is used as one of denigration.  Well, for much of the 1930’s Winston Churchill was alarmed about the rise of Nazi Germany, and he was widely dismissed as being ‘alarmist.’  The consequences of that dismissal could well have been fatal – because there was something to be alarmed about.

The problem came in the sixties when people invoked that history to shrug off suggestions that they were being ‘alarmists’ when the warned of the Yellow Peril and the ‘domino effect’ and we got locked into a losing war.  So ‘alarmist’ is like ‘activist’ – it all depends on the object of the alarm or activity.  ‘Alarmist’ is now used by those who lost the argument on climate change and are now seeking to cover their retreat with such dignity as they may command.  It will continue to be invoked as a banal label by those who accuse others of ‘groupthink’ and who give every appearance of being incapable of any other kind of thought.

Bloopers

The woman I went to hear confirmed that personal desks had indeed disappeared at her firm after an office move, as is so often the case. A small alarm went off in my head as she began to list the alleged benefits of ditching dedicated desks: employees could ‘work fast and more agilely’ to give a ‘better experience to customers’.  The alarm grew louder when she revealed the phoney slogan her company had used to describe the new system. ‘We didn’t call it agile working, we called it ‘fresh working’.’  Most regrettable of all, though, were signs of a mentality I can only describe as correctional.  Hot-desking apparently goes cold when workers try to cling on to a desk by sticking a family photo on it or draping a coat over a chair, moves she described as ‘signs of encampment’.

Financial Times, 29 July, 2019

The writer showed uncommon kindness in describing the mentality as ‘correctional’.  To describe an employee as showing ‘signs of encampment’ summons up images of the S S.

Passing Bull 208 – Decrying decency

 

It is highly entertaining to watch parts of the commentariat – the loudest voices in which call itself ‘the political class’ – decrying expressions of decency in big business – especially BHP and its CEO, Andrew Mackenzie.  Some people think that people in business should steer clear of moral and political issues.  They are just not clear about why this should be so.

We may put to one side the fact that those taking this position have a very shrill ideological commitment to a claimed ‘freedom’ of religious fundamentalists to condemn one in ten of us to Hell, but we can comfortably spot four reasons for them to be very jealous of Andrew Mackenzie.  He is much smarter than them.  He is much better educated than them – primary degree at St Andrews (geology); doctorate at Bristol (organic chemistry); Humboldt Research Fellow in Germany (nuclear science); the publisher of 50 research papers who speaks five languages (according to Wikipedia).  Finally, Mr Mackenzie does not just comment on others, which is the function of his critics – he creates jobs and wealth.  (There are not many of those about.  The BHP website refers to 62,000 employees and contractors.)  And, finally, he has leadership written all over him.

BHP has been outspoken on issues like indigenous recognition and relations with the First Nation generally; same sex marriage; climate change and coal; and diversity.  There are obvious reasons why a company engaged in mining in Australia or the Americas must have and profess strong policies on dealing with indigenous people.  Putting that to one side, there are at least three reasons why a company like BHP might be vocal on some moral and political issues.

One is the appalling failure of government to show anything resembling leadership on issues like same sex marriage and climate change.  Business has no alternative but to seek to fill the vacuum.  (The U S army decided years ago that it could not afford to wait until its Commander in Chief saw sense on climate change.  Insurers are now forcing others to act in the same way.)

Next, many shareholders expect this of their business; some demand it.  To describe such people as ‘activists’, as if you were articulating some truth, merely shifts the arguments down a rung.  In a society that calls itself capitalist, why should not the owners of capital deploy that fact to achieve social or political objectives?  Why should the owners of the business be precluded from expressing views about the position that the business adopts in the community?  As for the employees, is it not fundamental that a business goes better when its employees are happy in their jobs and proud of their work?

Finally, and perhaps as a result of the first two grounds, BHP should adopt the position it does because it is the right thing to do.  BHP has succeeded, and in my view all social groups depend upon those who have succeeded giving back to the community to those coming after them.  It is called noblesse oblige, and it is as essential for a company as it is for a family, a cricket club, a law firm, a small town, a political party, or a nation.  Mr Mackenzie looks to me to be the embodiment of this ideal.

May I relate this to my shareholdings in my super fund?   I hold shares in only eleven companies – four banks, three mining and exploration companies, two safe licensed investment companies, and CSL and Westfarmers.  I expect the businesses that I invest in to take care about their standing in the community generally.  I am broadly familiar with the management of all of those companies and, with one exception, I am content with that management.  The exception is three of the banks.  I am not happy with their management, or their standing in the community generally.  But – I am confident that they will change their ways; and in the meantime I have little option but to stay with them because the smallness of my fund and my reliance on it for income mean that I need to look for a safe yield above 6%.

Two anecdotes will show the value I put on good community relations.  When that dam that BHP had an interest in flooded a village in Brazil, Mr Mackenzie was over there within days and personally assuring villagers that the company would look after them.  It was very, very impressive.  I have acted for many large corporates, including BHP, and I can well imagine those in well-cut suits and under furrowed brows telling him such a course was risky and downright unwise.  This was leadership made visible.

When flying to the Bungle Bungles, I flew over the Rio diamond mine – a vast inverted ziggurat some distance from its lifeline airstrip – and I felt the thrill of ownership.  More importantly, at Broome I was told what a good job Woodside was doing in the local community.  I was also told a story that sounds like it has grown in the retelling.  A Woodside employee was making a pest of himself with a young woman at one of those fly-in, fly-out strips.  A Woodside executive told the miscreant of his lofty standing in the company, and that unless that man apologised to that young woman, he would be on the next plane back to Perth –and probably unemployable in that industry.

As a result of those incidents, I increased my holdings in BHP and Woodside (and, for that matter, Rio).  You may think that is a zany way to invest – well, it is my capital.  BHP is by far my biggest holding and I am very content with it – not least because it and Mr Mackenzie are acting in a way to attract criticism from those whom I least admire.

And when that criticism comes from those publicly associated with the IPA, which was, until recently, less publicly associated with coal and Gina Rinehart, then I know that our capacity for pure bullshit is unlimited.  And that’s also before we recall that those advising BHP how to run their business have never got with a bull’s roar of running any business.  Never mind – they don’t even draw the line at offering gratuitous but quite useless legal advice.

Bloopers

Asked earlier if Johnson’s team had sought any talks with Brussels, a Downing Street spokesman said: ‘What we’ve done is set out our position and say that we are very ready and will be energetic in beginning talking, but we’re also clear-eyed about what needs to happen if we are going to be able to secure a deal which parliament can support.

‘As I say, we are ready to begin talking, but we are clear what the basis for those discussions needs to be.’

The Guardian, 27 July, 2019

One problem with that is that it suggests that this government accepts that any deal must be supported by parliament.

Passing bull 207 – The Common Enemy

 

Technology now permits and encourages anonymous lies and attacks.  It is a bonus for cowards, fools, and crooks.  Just witness its role in the rise of people like Farage, Trump, and Johnson.  It has exposed the soft underbelly of democracy – enough people may be credulous enough to get you a very bad result.  Are we only as strong as our weakest link?  The democratic process is vulnerable because of its very openness.

Many lies were told during the last election.  That is about par for the course.  But it has been made much worse by corporations like Facebook.  It participated in lie that said that one party intended to introduce a death tax.  When challenged on this, Facebook responded:

I understand that your preference would be for Facebook to remove all content that you believe constitutes misinformation – which in this instance mean all content that discussed whether or not Labor intends to introduce a death tax – rather than demote it; however Facebook only removes content that violates our community standards.

Calling a lie ‘misinformation’ is enough to expose the credibility of the author.  We are talking about a straight lie, and if the original author was Clive Palmer, it could hardly be anything else.  We are in the distressingly familiar area of a contempt for truth.

Then there is that weasel term ‘community standards.’  But it is here qualified by ‘our’.  Who are we?  Not bloody me mate.  And if your community standards allow for barefaced lies – and they do – you have a problem and you are a problem.

Bloopers

The Hungarian government denies it is trying to shape the way that history is written. In a blog post, government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs characterised the 1956 Institute’s absorption by Veritas as ‘a minor administrative change to make research more efficient by integrating related fields into the same structure’.

Financial Times, 26 July, 2019

**

Greg Sheridan visited Hungary as a guest of the MCC Hungarian think tank.

The Weekend Australian, July, 20-21, 2019

And, he delivered on that investment.  MCC acolytes did not mention Orban’s name.

Yet according to the high organs of international liberalism, Orban is a fascist.  Surely fascist leaders promote a cult of personality?  Yet there are no statues of him in Budapest, no great memorials, and supporters of his government seem to be just like supporters of any other government.

Becoming a paid propagandist is does not look good for a journalist.

Passing bull 206 – Is the Australian Christian Lobby Sane?

Here are some of the reasons why people of faith in Australia might consider lying low just now.

We don’t like people who want to mix their religion with our politics.  The fight over conscription in the first war and the split in Labor after the second war unleashed toxic sectarian hate in this country that lasted for generations.  Now people of no faith object to having people of faith tell them how and when they can die – or whom they might marry.  People who rely on revelation cannot seek to bind those who have not experienced the revelation.

The abuse scandal has tarred all religion, but especially Christianity.  There was the abuse; the cover-up; and the millions spent on lawyers to defraud victims.  It’s hard to know which is the more nauseating. It reminds me of the moral landslide under the great financial crisis – and, again, no one is going to jail.

The church, to use a generic term, is fairly accused of hypocrisy.  Many Australians cannot understand how anyone purporting to follow the teaching of the man who preached the Sermon on the Mount can seek to justify our grossly inhumanitarian treatment of refugees.  Is Peter Dutton a hallmark Christian?

This problem is much worse in the U S.  People who call themselves evangelical Christians have entered into an open pact with Satan – in the hope that their president will appoint judges who will legislate against abortion.  If I had to select the two issues in Australia where religious people most put others off, they would be their attitude to hell and homosexuality.

But the problem is reaching that level here with a prime minister who loudly proclaims his adherence to a Pentecostal church by attending a night-time Hillsong rally of 20,000 spotlit fans of God and Mammon, who are dedicated to certain fundamental truths of dogma and the literal truth of the bible.  This prime minister has two claims to fame – he has a plaque dedicated to his stopping the boats; and he walked into parliament with a lump of coal looking like Clark Kent after he had just got over kryptonite.

And if people are pledged to uphold the literal truth of scripture, people without that faith are interested to know how Pentecostals reconcile themselves with texts such as these:

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.

And that’s before we get to other faiths, whether of the fundamental or fanatical variety, or not.  Even the peaceful Buddhists are now accused of genocide, and followers of one Muslim sect in Melbourne have just been sent to prison – smilingly – for bombing the mosque of another Muslim sect.  And the evangelicals in America and the Pentecostals here are far too close to money for most of the rest of us.

It therefore looks to me that the Australian Christian Lobby is likely to cause lasting damage to the cause of religion generally, and of Christianity in particular, by collecting millions of dollars to assist a millionaire to disseminate religious dogma that is wounding to very many people in Australia.

I have no idea what ‘freedom of religion’ means in this context.  To those who say that is the issue, I put three questions.

First, what do you think is ‘religion’?  I set out below something I wrote more than thirty years ago on the point.  It is not easy.  After the High Court said Scientology was in, the glee of Justice Murphy verged on the indecorous.  ‘One in; all in.’

Secondly, what is that you wish to be free to do on account of your faith that you are not free to do now?

Thirdly, if you persuade a majority of Australians to grant Christians that freedom – which I doubt very much – will you be happy to see a similar grant of freedom to the followers of Scientology, Voodoo, or the Ku Klux Klan?  Put differently, are you happy with the proposition – it was put ex cathedra – that charlatanism is a ‘a necessary price of religious freedom’?

**

 

Re THE FREE DAIST COMMUNION OF AUSTRALIA LIMITED and COMPTROLLER OF STAMPS

Mr Gibson (Member) 26, 27, 30 October 1987

Stamp Duty –  Objection to assessment –   Lease –   Exemption for leases for religious or charitable purposes or to any corporation or body of persons associated for any such purpose Meaning of “religious purposes” Stamps Act 1958, Third Schedule (Exemption 3 of Heading VIII).

Costs –       Taxation  Division –        Objection  to  assessment –           Matters of public policy said to be involved-Meaning of “religious purposes”

  • Objection upheld Assessment reduced to nil Whether Crown should pay costs Scale  of  costs -Adminis.trative  Appeals  Tribu­ nal (Taxation Division) Regulations 1985, cl

The applicant sought exemption from stamp duty on a lease to it of premises used as a bookshop, on the ground that it was a corporation or body of persons associated for religious or charitable purposes, alternatively on the ground that the lease was for religious or charitable purposes, within the meaning of Exemption 3 of Heading VIII of the Third Schedule to the Stamps Act 1958.

Held: (I) The applicant was associated for religious purposes. Church of the New

Faith v Commissioner of Pay-Roll Tax (Vir:) (1983) 154 CLR 120 (the Scientology Case), considered and applied.

  • It was unnecessary to decide the other grounds relied upon for exemption.
  • The assessment under reference should be varied by being reduced 10 nil.
  • Notwithstanding the contention of the respondent that matters of public policy were involved and that this was the first case to arise involving an application of the Scientology Case, the respondent should pay the applicant’s costs of the

CASES C ITED:

Burnet v Guggenheim 288 US 280 (1933).

Church of the New Faith v Commissioner of Pay-Roll Tax (Vic)(l983) 154 CLR 120.

Commissioners for Special Purposes of Income Tax v Pemse/ [1891] AC 531.

Commissioners of Inland Revenue v Forrest (1890) 15 App Cas 334. Minahan v Commissioner of Stamp Duties (1926) 26 SR (NSW) 480. Ne/an v Downes (1917) 23 CLR 546.

Re Price [1943I Ch 422.

Re Reschs Will Trusts. [I969] I AC 514.

Re South Place Ethical Society, (1980)  I WLR 1565.

Re War Nurses Memorial Centre and Comptroller of Stamps (1985) I VAR 120.

Thornton  v Howe (1862) 31 Beav 14.

Dr I  Hardingham,  for the applicant.

JG  Santamaria, for the respondent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

..

 

 

 

 

134                                         ADMINISTRATIVE APPEALS TRIBUNAL VIC                                                         [0987)

30 October 1987

THE  TRIBUNAL.

  1. The Issue

The applicant, The Free Daist Communion of Australia Ltd, says that it is a religious group. The Crown says it is not. The applicant is a company limited by guarantee. It is the tenant of premises in the city of Melbourne at 37 Little Collins Street. It took a five year written lease of those premises· on 1 December 1986. The lease was assessed for stamp duty in the sum of $915.60. The applicant’s objections to the assessment were disallowed by the respondent comptroller and then referred to this tribunal. The applicant claims exemptions under Exemption 3 of Heading VIII to the Third Schedule of the Stamps Act 1958. That exemption is as follows:

..(3) Any lease granted or assigned to any registered friendly society or for religious charitable or educational purposes or to any corporation or body of persons associated for any such purpose.”

The issue for this tribunal is whether the applicant is a corporation or body associated for religious purposes or whether the lease was granted for religious or charitable purposes. The applicant did not seek to rely on the reference to educational purposes in the exemption. The applicant has the onus of proving that it is a religious group.

  1. Evidence

The applicant called oral evidence from its “official spokesman”, Mr Peter Roberts, who. is a director of the applicant, and who has been associated with the community surrounding the applicant for fourteen years. In the course of the evidence of Mr Roberts, the applicant tendered some nine books from the writings of the founder of the movement behind the applicant, Da Free John. There was agreed documentary evidence, such as the lease and the objection to the assessment, to which was appended a memorandum setting out the nature of the activities of the applicant. The Crown called no evidence. I set out below a summary of the evidence led on behalf of the applicant.

  1. Evidence of the History and Practices of the Applicant
  • The applicant conducts a bookshop on the ground floor of 37 Little Collins Street and conducts what it calls educational activities under the name “The Laughing Man Institute ? ‘ on the first floor. In the lease. the proposed use of the premises is described as “Retail bookshop”.
  • The applicant company was founded in 198 Its present name is its fourth: the previous names were “The Free Primitive Church of Divine Communion Limited”, “Advaitayana Buddhist Communion of Australia Ltd” and ”The Johannine Daist Communion of Australia Limited”. The objects of the applicant as set out in cl 2 of the Memorandum of Asso­ ciation are:

(a} To arrange for, promote and foster the establishment and deve­ lopment of a charitable, religious, non-profit organisation dedi­ cated to making available to as many persons as possible the teaching of Da Free John or the successor or successors named by him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

,:

 

 

 

2 VAR)                     Re FREE DAIST COMM & COMPT STAMPS                                                                135

 

  • To arrange for, promote, develop and assist the study and the acquisition dissemination and application of knowledge and information concerning the beneficial effects of the philosophies, guidance, techniques or other teachings of Da Free John or the successor or successors named by
  • In furtherance of the objects of the Church to encourage, stimu­ late and aid research and investigation into the teachings of Da Free John or the successor or successors named by
  • To take over the funds and other assets and liabilities of the present unincorporated association known as ‘The Free Primitive Church of Divine Communion’.”

The memorandum then goes on in the usual form to list further objects which are expressly said to be· ‘solely for the purpose of carrying out the aforesaid objects and not otherwise”. The Articles of Association (cl 3) set the commencing number of members at 100, but I was informed that this was common form in companies limited by guarantee at the time the applicant was incorporated.

  • There had been an association of those interested in the teachings of Da Free John – whom I shall refer to as the community -formed in Australia in about
  • Da Free John was bom Franklin Albert Jones at Long Island, New York, in 1939. He was brought up in the Lutheran He has had an interesting life. He now lives in Fiji and is 47 years of age. He has three children. His life history, and his transition to the place that he now occupies in the spiritual life of others, can be seen through the books that were tendered. There is, for example, a life history at the beginning of The Enlightenment of the Whole Body. It requires in parts, as it seems to me, some quite deliberate acts of faith in describing this development of a “Heaven-Born Teacher”, with its “Appearance of the Spiritual Mas­ ter”, “the Revelation of Teaching” and “Sublime Instruction”.
  • The community was first formed in the United States, in 1972, in Los Angeles. It was, I think, first there described as the Dawn Horse Communion. The community is now represented at centres in Melbourne, Sydney, Auckland, Hawaii, other parts of the United States, Canada, London and Amsterdam. The community has about 50 practising mem­ bers in Australia, predominantly in Melbourne and
  • Practising members of the applicant are members of The Laughing Man Institute. That is the name of the educational arm of the community, of which the applicant and its members are now parts. Membership of the applicant is gained by written application and oral examination. There is also a medical and psychological examination.  Mr Roberts thought  that the psychological examination was not substantially different to that offered to those wishing to undergo teaching for part of the Protestant or Roman Catholic clergy. Membership depends on the capacity of the applicant to follow the teachings of the
  • In addition to the 50 or so members in Australia, there are 50 “formal friends”. These people contribute at least $200.00 per annum to the applicant, participate in some of its events, get the magazine put out by the applicant, and generally associate with members. Mr Roberts thought that there are about 800 practising members in the community

 

 

 

136                                       ADMINISTRATIVE  APPEALS TR[BUNAL VIC                                                          [(1987)

 

throughout the world; a memorandum filed with the tribunal puts the number at 1200.

  • The community is open to everyone. The name “Da” in the name of the founder has a Sanskrit root and connotes both the given and the divine. There are seven recognised phases through which members pass, but there is no structured priesthood. Members are expected to take responsibility for their own lives. As they get more experienced, they are expected to look after less experienced members. Mr Roberts said that the community believed in immediate revelation – that is why. he said, the name of the applicant at one time included the word “Primitive”. From the beginning of membership, the members, who are called “prac­ titioners” and “students”, are expected to simplify their lives in relation to matters such as diet, sex, drugs and stimulants. Good physical health is encouraged to promote spiritual This kind of training is carried out at The Laughing Man Institute.
  • The community worldwide operates a publishing house called “The Dawn Horse Press”, which is situated in California. The bookshop in Melbourne – the site of the premises that give rise to the lease under consideration – is called “The Dawn Horse Bookshop”. The Dawn Horse Press publishes the writings of Da Free John. Those writings are voluminous. There are about 40
  • At its Melbourne address, the applicant seUs spiritual works and also books that offer practical guidance for everyday life. It sells a wide range of religious literature. It has an interest in getting people interested in the great religious traditions. It hopes both to instruct and to inspire. It sells works relating to the great Christian mystics, and works relating to religions like Hinduism and The bookshop currently has some 5,000 titles. Less than 10 per cent of these come from the community’s own publishing house. About 85 per cent of the works from that source are written by Da Free John. According to the notice of objection, the centre at Little Collins Street provides a chapel where members worship on Sundays.
  • The applicant regards the bookshop and The Laughing Man Insti­ tute as educational. In addition to offering instruction to new and poten­ tial members, The Laughing Man Institute runs seminars and videos. It seeks to draw attention to traditional religions. It also offers classes in yoga. Film is shown of Da Free John, and also of various saints. Mr Roberts said that one aim was to get people interested in the religion which they already espoused; an ulterior motive was to attract their interest to the The facilities of the applicant are advertised in the Melbourne press. Mr Roberts said that he had attended a number of gatherings at The Laughing Man Institute; although he had been inspired by some, he confessed to being a little bored by others.
  • The applicant itself, and the bookshop in particular, are, I was told, nm as non-profit making units. The Memorandum of Association of the applicant contains the usual provisions (in clauses 3 and 6) prohibiting the distribution of income or property to members. Mr Roberts said that although members are tithed to the extent of 10 per cent of their income, the applicant had never made a profit. He said that its books of account

(which were not tendered) were audited by a substantial Melbourne firm of accountants. He was not aware of any money having been sent by the

 

 

2VAR]                                     Re FREE DAIST COMM & COMPT STAMPS                                 137

 

applicant to the United States. According to the memorandum attached to the objection, the community has a policy of not canvassing the public for funds, or proselytizing in order to increase membership.

  • Mr Roberts said that the community in general, and members of the applicant in particular, believe in the existence of I was referred to a number of passages from the writings of Da Free John on the subject of God. In his evidence, Mr Roberts said that members of the applicant believed in God at least in the sense of somethmg before and beyond what is present in the physical world. It is dear from at least some passages in the writings that Da Free John rejects the notion that the existence of God is susceptible of rational proof, perhaps even “proof” by revelation. In The God in Every Body Book (at 23-24) the following appears:

“The God of Nature, the Creator God, cannot be proven because that One does not exist as proposed. But the Great God is Tran­ scendental and exists in the Self-Position Transcendentally. In other words, It exists at the level of our eternal Existence and not at the level of the objects related to our conditional egoic existence, our manifest independence. This same One is also present to us in the form of aU others, all objects, all states of nature-not asother, but rather as that One in which we inhere. That One is present as the Adept, but human Agent or Transmitter, but not in any excJusive sense, not as the Holy Other, but as That which manifests the Power of the Self-Position, the Trancendental Condition. That One is present as Spiritual Force, transmitted through Baptism and Good

Company. And the purpose of Spiritual Baptism or reception of an Adept’s Transmission, therefore, is to lead us into the Realisation of That which is in the Self-Position. Its purpose is not to call us to conform to an apparent Power outside ourselves that requires us to engage in activities very similar to the childish social routines of conventional religiosity.

Thus, the Truth that is to be Realised may be summarised simply as the Realisation that no matter what is arising, no matter how many others are present, there is only One Being. That is precisely differ­ ent from the childish proposition that even when you are alone there is always Someone Else present.”

In The Four Fundamental Questions (at 93) the following appears: “We  believe on  the basis of intuitive feeling that there is only God,

the God that is Real and Absolute and tharcannot be sought or found

within or without, nor ever proved by the mind, but can only suddenly be felt with the whole being, and then loved and surren­ dered to from the heart, as Life, Spirit, Consciousness, All-Pervad­ ing Presence.

In our approach religious life begins through an intuitive awaken­ ing of the human heart. That awakening is given by Grace.”

Mr Roberts said that he took the teachings of Da Free John on faith. For him, the claim rang true that there is only one God, and that that God is realisable; he thought that through his application to study, he had begun to realise God, and that he had become a happier person, and, hopefully, one who is better able to serve. According to his learning, there was some correlation between this aspect of the teachings of Da

 

 

 

 

138                                        ADMINISTRATIVE  APPEALS TRIBUNAL VIC                                                          ((1987)

 

Free John, and the radical adherence to God as one without  a second shown by some traditions of  the Advaita  Vedantist,  sometimes said to be a part of Hinduism. He wondered whether there might not be some connection, too, with the First Commandment of the Old Testament.

  • Members of the community may take part in worship, but this is reserved for the more mature students. Mr Roberts thought that worship was most useful at that phase of the  developm nt  of  a  member when he is capable of an immediate experience of God. Detailed instruction on worship can be found in Chapter Five of the book Bodily Worship of the Living God. As indicated above, the notice of objection stated that members worship in the chapel at Little Collins Street every Sunday.
  • The morality espoused by the community is not, said Mr Roberts, prescriptive. But he was at pains to emphasise that mere belief in the divine is not sufficient, that members are expected to share the realisation of God: they are practitioners, not mere believers. In the memorandum filed by the applicant, reference is made to the practice of “true religion” and it is said that “In our faith, this practice necessarily invo]ves a life of self-discipline, in which the recommendations offered by the communion must be lived in order to give effect (or real potency) to belief in God”. In The Four Fundamental Questions (at 98) the following appears:

“The moral discipline of this Way is simple to understand but hard to fulfill: It is to look and feel and be and act completely happy at all times, and to radiate or express joy and love in all relationships, no matter what occurs in life, and no matter what may be anyone else’s response or lack of response. The fundamental expression of this moral discipline is service, the giving of energy and attention to others and to God in every moment. This moral gesture is the foundation for the creation of real spiritual and co-operative com­ munity life”.

A connection between theology and morality can be seen from pas­ sages – many of which are obscure to the uninitiated – such as the following from The Fire Gospel (at 35-36):

“So – everything and everyone is a spirit, every apparent entity or individuated something or other is made of energy and therefore in practical terms may be designated a spirit. This is the basis of the animistic view, the shamanistic view, the vitalistic view at the root of all religion. Likewise, there is one Spirit. All individuated spirits or states of energy are modifications or transformations of a Universal Energy, the Great Spirit, the Divine Spirit; the Holy Spirit, the Maha-Shakti, Prakriti. The most basic notion of religion, therefore, is that it is association with spirits, and the high conception of religion is that our relationship with the one Spirit that Pervades all is Senior to our relationship to all other spirits.

What Jesus said is a summation of the Hebrew law: Love God, Who is Spirit. Love the Great Spirit totally. Submit yourself totally to the Great Spirit and love all others as spirits in that One Spirit. Treat all others as spirits like yourself. Enter into a harmonious spiritual relationship with others and with the world. However, do not make this second principle of the law senior to the first. The first principle is senior. Submission to the Great Spirit, the Transcenden-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

,.

 

 

2 VARJ                       Re FREE DAIST COMM & C0MPT STAMPS                                  139

 

tal Spirit, is the fundamental import of high religion, and its secon­ dary principle is based on the first: Be Spirit-born or Spirit-alive and relate to others likewise.”

Mr Roberts said that since members of the applicant lived as a com­ munity, there are agreements between them as to how they are to behave. Members have been disciplined by suspension or even expulsion for not following the required behaviour.

  • Prayer plays a part, but, I gather, only a limited part in the spiritual life of members of the applicant. Mr Roberts thought that there were inherent weaknesses in neurotic prayer. In Bodily Worship of the Living God (at 39) Da Free John described what people commonly know as prayer as “a form of conventional magic activity that has as its ultimate goal the fulfilment of self and its functional desires”. After referring to “true prayer”, he goes on to say:

”In this truly prayerful Communion, all aspects of the body-mind are naturally surrendered and aligned to the Living God, and, therefore, that Power also Works directly in the experience of those who pray in Truth.”

  • Members of the applicant revere Da Free John as a teacher and love him as a But he has not, so far as I can see, claimed to have the same identity with God as have some founders of religion. In The Enlightenment of the Whole Body, the biography that I referred to above refers to his followers as devotees and says (at 3) of the “Heaven-Born” Teachers that:

“They are beyond the human, infinitely beyond the superhuman; they are Divine Men. In the Form of such Masters, God lives among human beings, for the sake of their Liberation into Happiness. Such Masters incarnate the Divine Power of Awakening. They do not have to do anything to manifest that Power; they are that Power, by virtue of being perfectly transparent in body, mind, and heart to the All-Pervading Consciousness of God.”

  • Members of the community do not claim to have an exclusive entitlement to truth or salvation. Mr Roberts thought that it would be possible for a practising Roman Catholic to be a friend of the community

– he said some priests were – but it would not be possible for such a person to continue that practice while becoming a member of the com­ munity. Mr Roberts himself was brought up as a Roman Catholic. Without comment from anyone, he took the oath on the Bible.

  • The literature shows a number of classifications of members of the community, and phases of membership. One classification is by five divisions (The God in Every Body Book at 136) as follows: The Laughing Man Institute (the public educational division), The Free Communion Church (the devotional Culture of Celebration for practising  students), The Crazy Wisdom Fellowship (the educational and cultural organisation for maturing practitioners), The  Advaitayana  Buddhist  Order  (reserved for those in the higher or esoteric stages of practice) and The Free Renunciate Order (the devotees who have Realised the ultimate stage of practice of the Way). According to this division, no-one in Australia has passed beyond the first
  • The membership of the applicant is equally represented between

 

140                                      ADMINISTRATIVE  APPEALS TRIBUNAL VIC                                                          [(1987)

 

men and women; the members tended to be well-educated; there is a slight preponderance of professional people; they are generally married, and middle-class; they generally become members between the ages of 25 and 40; they generally maintain their occupations when they are admitted as members.

  1. Findings on the Evidence

As indicated, the Crown called no evidence.. The evidence of Mr Roberts was not contradicted. Nor was it seriously challenged; the Crown did not contend that he was a liar or that the founder of the community is a fraud. Mr Roberts himself is a venture capitalist with a managed investment company recognised by the federal Government. Before undertaking that role he was the president of a computer company in California. He now spends most of his time as a venture capitalist, but finds a lot of time for the affairs of the community. He presented as a literate, articulate, persuasive and, I think, candid witness. Although I can imagine that some might find his persuasiveness in some circum­ stances to be a little disconcerting, no attack at all was made on his credit, and I think that I should accept his evidence substantially as I have set it out above. I think the references to the contents of the memorandum put in by the applicant are consistent with that evidence and should also be accepted. Accordingly, the summary of the evidence of the applicant should be regarded as findings of the Tribunal. I also find on the probabi­ lities from all the evidence that members of the applicant endeavour to follow and apply the teachings from the books of Da Free John that I have referred to above.

  1. Religion

In Church of the New Faith v Commissioner of Pay-Roll Tax (Vic) (1983) 154 CLR 120 (the Scientology Case), most members of the High Court were at pains to point out that the question before the High Court was whether, on the evidence that was before the Victorian Supreme Court, scientology was a religion. The question was not whether the appellant corporation was a religious institution.

The High Court found that on the available evidence scientology as practised in Victoria was a religion. Mason ACJ (as he then was) and Brennan J said (at 136):

“We would therefore hold that, for the purposes of the law, the criteria of religion are twofold: first, belief in a supernatural Being, Thing or Principle; and second, the acceptance of canons of conduct in order to give effect to that belief, though canons of conduct which offend against the ordinary laws are outside the area of any immun­ ity, privilege or right conferred on the grounds of religion. Those criteria may vary in their comparative importance, and there may be a different intensity of belief or of acceptance of canons of conduct among religions or among the adherents to a religion. The tenets of a religion may give primacy to one particular belief or to one parti­ cular canon of conduct. Variations in emphasis may distinguish one religion from other religions, but they are irrelevant to the determi­ nation of an individual’s or a group’s freedom to profess and exercise the religion of his, or their, choice.”

Murphy J said (at 151):

 

 

 

 

2 VAR}                       Re FREE DAlST COMM & COMPT STAMPS                                                               141

“The better approach is to state what is sufficient, even if not necessary, to bring a body which claims to be religious within the category. Some claims to be religious are not serious but merely a hoax … , but to reach this conclusion requires an extreme case. On this approach, any body which claims to be religious, whose beliefs or practices are a revival of, or resemble, earlier cults, is religious. Any body which claims to be religious and.believes in a supernatural Being or Beings, whether physical and visible, such as the sun or the stars, or a physical invisible God or spirit, or an abstract God or entity, is religious. For example, if a few followers of astrology were to found an institution based on the belief that their destinies were influenced or controlled by the stars, and that astrologists can, by reading the stars, divine these destinies, and if it claimed to be religious, it would be a religious institution. Any body which claims to be religious, and offers a way to find meaning and purpose in life, is religious. The Aboriginal religion of Australia and other countries must be included. The list is not exhaustive; the categories of religion are not closed.”

Wilson and Deane JJ said (at 174):

“One of the more important indicia of ‘a religion’ is that the parti­ cular collection of ideas and/or practices involves beliefs in the supernatural, that is to say, belief that reality extends beyond that which is capable of perception by the senses. If that be absent, it is unlikely that one has ‘a religion’. Another is that the ideas relate to man’s nature and place in the universe and his relation to things supernatural. The third is that the ideas are accepted by adherents as requiring or encouraging them to observe particular standards or codes of conduct or to participate in specific practices having super­ natural significance. The fourth is that, however loosely knit and varying in beliefs and practices adherents may be, they constitute an identifiable group or identifiable groups. A fifth, and perhaps more controversial indicium is that the adherents themselves see the

collection of ideas and/or practices as constituting a religion.

As has been said, no one of the above indicia is necessarily determinative of the question whether a particular collection of ideas and/or practices should be objectively characterised as ‘a religion•. They are no more than aids in determining that question and the assistance to be derived  from them will vary’according to the context in which the question arises. All of those indicia are,  however, satisfied by most or all leading religions. It is unlikely that a collection of ideas and/or practices  would  properly be characterised  as religion if it lacked all or most of them or that, if all were plainly  satisfied, what was claimed to be religion could properly be denied that description.”

The Court was unanimous in holding that for the purposes of the law religion should not be confined to theistic religions.

  1. When considering the judgments in the Scientology Case, it is of course necessary to remember that they are just that; they determined a particular case; they emanated from a building cast in concrete; they are not cast in stone; they are not a statute; exegesis may or may not be

 

 

 

 

 

142                                      ADMlNISTRATIVE  APPEALS TRIBUNAL VIC                                                         [(1987)

 

compulsory, but if taken too far, may not be compeIJing. As has been seen, Mason ACJ and Brennan J fixed two necessary criteria; Murphy J stated a number of criteria that might be sufficient, and none of which is apparently necessary; Wilson and Deane JJ referred to a number of criteria that might be sufficient, and none of which was apparently thought to be absolutely necessary, although some are clearly more significant than others. The two criieria identified by Mason ACJ and Brennan J (belief in the supernatural and canons of conduct) are also identified by Wilson and Deane JJ and, in my view, as their most significant criteria; they may also, I think, be found in the judgment of Murphy J. Murphy J did not, in my view, find that it was sufficient that a group claimed to be religious: if it were thought that he had, such a proposition would not in my view stand against the other judgments of the Court: that criterion was expressly rejected as a legal criterion by Mason ACJ and Brennan J (at 132); I do not think that the remarks of Wilson and Deane JJ (at 174) could be taken as indicating that that criterion alone could be sufficient. Mason ACJ and Brennan J seemed to require the acceptance of canons of conduct “in order to give effect” to the belief in the supernatural; on the text, there is scope for argument as to whether Wilson and Deane JJ postulated the same connection. This debate seems to me to be sterile. I find it hard to envisage a religious body persuading a Court that its adherents believed in the supernatural and had accepted canons of conduct without at the same time establishing some connection between the two in the course of proving itself to be religious. Similarly, l find it a little difficult to envisage the first criterion of Wilson and Deane JJ (belief in the supeniatural) being satisfied without also the second criterion (the ideas relating to man’s nature and place in the universe and things supernatural) being satisfied. One might also expect the fourth criterion (an identifiable group however loosely knit) being satisfied by a body claiming to be exempt from tax. The fifth criterion is admittedly more controversial, except that one would be surprised to see a body claiming exemption from tax on the grounds that it is religious if it did not itself regard its ideas and practices as religious. For myself, I find it very difficult to envisage a case where the criteria of Mason ACJ and Brennan J are satisfied, and the body is not characterised as religious; as a matter of fact (and probably not law) I also find it a little difficult to envisage a body being characterised as religious that does not satisfy those two criteria. Despite some apparent fears to the contrary, as a matter of practical reality I doubt that the ruling in the Scientology Case should present any more difficulties than the subject warrants.

7.         Submissions of the Applicant

Counsel for the appJicant was content to measure the evidence  ten­ dered on behalf of the applicant and submit that all of the criteria put forward by the members of the Court in the Scientology Case were satisfied. Additionally, it was argued that the lease was granted  for religious purposes, or, alternatively, charitable purposes. It was said that even if the tribunal found that the applicant was not a corporation associated for religious purposes, the lease was granted for other pur­  poses beneficial to the community within the fourth classification of charitable trusts of Lord Macnaghten in Commissioners for Special Purposes of Income Tax v Pemsel (1891] AC 531 at 583. Reliance was

 

 

 

2 VAR]                      Re FREE DAIST COMM & COMPT STAMPS                                 143

 

place on Re Price [1943] Ch 422 and Re South Place Ethical Society (1980] 1 WLR 1565. It was said that Re Resch ‘s Will Trusts [1969] 1 AC 514 established that the fact that the applicant charges for books is not fatal to the contention that its relevant activities are charitable.

  1. Submissions of the Crown

The primary contention of the Crown was that the applicant had not adduced sufficient  evidence  to discharge  the onus  placed  upon  it  by s 33C(l)(b) of the Stamps Act 1958 of establishing that it was associated for religious purposes. It was said that no conclusion could safely be drawn from the literature that was tendered, since it required explanation and used words with peculiar meanings, and that therefore I could not be sure what any given passage meant. The suggestion was that the material had not been sufficiently explained. It was said that Mr Roberts in cross-examination had conceded that there was no distinction between his conception of God and his conception of reality, and that the applicant had failed to demonstrate the connection between belief and conduct said to have been required by passages of the judgment of Mason ACJ and Brennan Jin the Scientology Case at 142-148. On the argument that the lease was granted for religious purposes, it was said first that the purpose must be ascertained at the time of the grant of the lease (and that the terms of the lease itself were the best evidence of this); secondly, that use of the premises for a bookshop like The Dawn Horse Bookshop could not be said to be a use for religious purposes (since not every purpose associated with religion is a religious purpose); and, thirdly, that the evidence did not permit a finding as to what was more important, the conducting of The Dawn Horse Bookshop or The Laughing Man Insti­ tute. By reference to Commissioners of Inland Revenue v Forrest (1890) 15 App Cas 334 at 338 (Lord Halsbury, LC) and Minahan v Commissioner of Stamp Duties (1926) 26 SR (NSW) 480 at 481 (Street CJ) (referred to in Re War Nurses Memorial Centre and Comptroller of Stamps (1985) I VAR 120 at 125) it was said that the applicant had to show that the lease. was granted mainly for the purposes of religion, and this it had quite failed to do. As to the lease being granted for charitable purposes, the Crown was, as I understood it, content to rest on the same arguments it put in relation to religious purposes.

  1. The Applicant as a Religious Organisation

It seems to me that three related kinds of issues may confront an Australian tribunal that has to decide whether in the eye of the law a body of persons is religious or is associated for religious purposes within the law of charity.

  • Sooner or later someone will ask you to try to wedge into a logical proposition – a syllogism – something that by definition is meant to go beyond logic: cf Wilson and Deane JJ in the Scientology Case at 171. Students of religion may or may not be comfortable with this – it may be more acceptable to some Western religions than some others – but the lawyer must, I think, feel some discomfort. The law and religion often do not mix well. If I may be permitted to say so without offence, you have only to look at the different treatment accorded to the Moravians by the Chancery lawyers and the common lawyers at the various levels in Pemsel’s case (supra), or at the controversy currently going on about the

 

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144                          ADMINISTRAT£VE  APPEALS TRIBUNAL VIC                                                [(1987)

 

juristic treatment accorded by Lord Atkin to the New Testament rule that you are to love your neighbour.

  • Because of a fear of intolerance, persons claiming to be religious may, as it seems to me, get the benefit of the doubt, just as the State gives the benefit of the doubt to those whom it wishes to brand as In the result, some may get more protection that some would say is war­ ranted, out of fear that otherwise some may be unfairly dealt with. The Australian Constitution (Cth) (s 116) does give some protection in respect of freedom of religion. Whatever may have been the contemporary sensibility of Australian lawyers on the matter of religion had they otheiwise been left to their own inclination, it is liberal by virtue of a constitutional imperative; to the extent possible, toleration is ordained. In the Scientology Case, Mason ACJ and Brennan J referred (at 131) to the possible subversion of religious liberty and equality if a narrow definition of religion were accepted in order to accord with a concept currently adopted by the majority of the community; their Honours later referred (at 141) to charlatanism as “a necessary price of religious freedom”. Murphy J (at 150) said:

.. Religious discrimination by officials or by courts is unacceptable in a free society. The truth or falsity of religions is not the business of officials or the courts. If each purported religion had to show that its doctrines were true, then all might fail. Administrators and judges must resist the temptation to hold that groups or institutions are not religious because claimed religious beliefs or practices seem absurd, fraudulent, evil or novel; or because the group or institution is new, the number of adherents small, the leaders hypocrites, or because they seek to obtain the financial and other privileges which come with religious status. In the eyes of the law, religions are equal. There is no religious club with a monopoly of State privileges for its members. The policy of the law is ‘one in, all in’.”

Wilson and Deane JJ said (at 1i4) of the decision of whether or not a group of ideas or practices should properly be characterised as a religion:

“Ultimately, however, that question will fall to be resolved as a matter of judgment on the basis of what the evidence establishes about the claimed religion. Putting to one side the case of the parody or sham, it is important that care be taken, in the exercise of that judgment, to ensure that the question is approached and determined as one of arid characterisation not involving any element of assess­ ment of the utility, the intellectual quality, or the essential ‘truth· or ‘worth’ of tenets of the claimed religion.”

  • As much as, if not more than, England, Australia is a polyglot society. But Australia, with its constitutional protection of religion, has no State religion. Much of the old English legal history – both statutory and common law – is affected by clashes of interest between the State and its Church, and between religious factions, that are likely to be embarrassing to contemporary Australians: see the remarks of Sir Isaac Isaacs in Nelan v Downes (1917) 23 CLR 546 at 565-568, especially at To take one example, the subject of religion was deliberately -that is to say, as the result of a political decision – not dealt with in the Statute of Elizabeth (43 Eliz, c 4), except for a passing reference to the repair of

 

 

 

2VAR]                                    Re FREE DAIST COMM & COMPr STAMPS                                                               145

 

churches. But the statute provided for the Irish (10 Charles I (1634)) expressly stipulated “for themaintenance of any minister and preacher of the Holy Word of God”: see Pemsel’s case, at 545-546. Nevertheless, at least for some time now, the English common law of charity  has shown the same disinclination to make any distinction “between one sort of religion and another”: Thornton v Howe (1862) 31 Beav 14 at 20, Sir John Romilly MR.

  1. Now, it does seem to me tliat the findings referred to above (pars 3 and 4) permit only one conclusion, whichever of the relevant criteria are to be applied. I do bear in mind the warnings given about the dangers of purporting to understand religious writing much of which is unashamedly esoteric. But such a warning must I think go both ways: the onus is on the applicant to establish its case, and if it tenders material that is obscure to the point of being impenetrable, it does so at its own peril, unless it adequately explains it; but the material should not be rejected because it may appear to some to be childish, fanciful, banal, twisted, or half-baked. Nor, in my opinion, can the tribunal just wash its hands and walk away refusing to determine a question, simply because most of the relevant material may, for one reason or another, pass its understanding. The Crown expressly accepted that the literature appeared to be respectful, sober and to address religious themes; the Crown did not attack the sincerity of Mr Roberts, or the man whose teachings he accepts. When I look at the literature, two things at least seem to me to be clear enough: first there is a belief in God andsecondly, that belief affects the conduct of the What so appears from the literature is consistent with and confirmed by the evjdence of Mr Roberts both as to his understanding of the literature and as to what members of the applicant do and believe. I do not think that Mr Roberts committed himself to a logically untenable position of confining God to the world. For myself, in a case like this. I would require clear demonstration of such a result from mere verbal duelling, since I have some difficulty in following an attempt to confine within the constraints which rule the minds of most men, a notion whose central purpose may be to break free from those constraints. Further­ more, it is apparent from the evidence (par 3(15) above) that the belief of members of the applicant in God is meant to affect their conduct, and does so. In my judgment the evidence as a whole is amply sufficient to establish that the applicant is associated for religious purposes within the

law as laid down in the Scientology _Case.

  1. On the evidence in this case, it is in my view unnecessary to attempt any synthesis of the judgments in the Scientology Based on the findings of fact that I have made, I find that the members of the applicant believe in God; they have an approach to life and conduct and morality that is affected by their belief in God; their ideas help them to relate themselves to other people, the world, and the supernatural; they are an identifiable group; they regard their community as a religious community supported by religious ideas and practices; they participate in worship and prayer and other conduct that resembles the conduct of other religious bodies; they believe that the teachings of their founder offer a way to find meaning and purpose in life. In my opinion, each of those

 

 

 

 

146                         ADMINISTRATIVE APPEALS TRIBUNAL VIC                                              ((1987)

 

findings is compelled by the findings of fact, and it follows that the applicant must be regarded as a body associated for religious purposes.

  1. Lease for Religious or Charitable Purposes

What I have said above is sufficient to dispose of this reference. At the hearing, the applicant abandoned its prior contention that the lease had been granted for educational purposes. In the end, the applicant did not vigorously pursue the contention that the tnbunal could find that the lease was granted for religious purposes even if the applicant were not found to be associated for those purposes. That leaves the contention that the lease could be said to have been granted for charitable purposes. This argument was also ancillary to the principal contention and interest of the applicant, which was to establish its validity as a religious group. The argument on this point was short, and the evidence not satisfactory. While I feel some persuasion by the analogies offered by Re Price (supra) and Re South Place Ethical Society (supra), I see some force in the objections of the Crown as to the state of the evidence. Questions arising about trusts for ..other purposes beneficial to the community” are often difficult. Because of the nature of the argument and the evidence in this case, and because I have a clear view on the principal question, I think that it would be better if I did not now determine the secondary question, but leave it to be determined if and when the need arises.

  1. Costs

Each side sought costs if it won, but not to have to pay the other side if it lost. The applicant has won. The Comptroller led no evidence. She did not attack the credit Qf the witness for the applicant or the bona fides of the applicant. The applicant provided a substantial memorandum to the Comptroller describing its beliefs and practices by reference to the judgments in the Scientology Case. The applicant also tendered a Jetter of exemption from the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation (dated 26 July 1984) saying that the applicant was exempt under s 23(e) of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 (Cth), which exempts from income tax the income of religious, scientific, charitable or public educational institu­ tions. On the other hand, the Crown said that matters of public policy were involved and that. this case was the first to arise involving an application of the Scientology Case. The Comptroller must of course examine claims for exemption, and is entitled to have a claim such as that made by the applicant publicly tested.. lo some cases toughness and humility might have to be nicely combined. But why should not the Crown indemnify a body that it subjects to the test of religion, and which passes that test, particularly in this case, where the test has been easily passed? There was a suggestion that the Scientology Case was con­ troversial. It was said that the scientologists only just fell in; so did the Moravians in Pemsel’s case. The High Court did indicate that a narrow, and potentially unreal, issue arose for its determination in that case; to put it softly, the evidence disclosed more than a whiff of humbug about the activities of the taxpayer in that case, something here disclaimed by the Crown. The problem is no doubt my own, but I can see no big issue · of principle in this case; indeed, on a consideration of the unchallenged evidence and the only relevant authority, I was left wondering what all the fuss was about. I myself see no real reason to fear that the new

 

 

 

 

2VAR]                      Re FR.EE DAIST COMM & COMPT STAMPS                                147

 

dispensation, if it is that, may be a charter for charlatans or frauds. I find it a little difficult to divorce such a fear from the proposition that the relevant tribunals are likely to be duped. If it is thought that the present constitutionally effected width of religion is too wide safely to allow it exemption from tax, one answer may be to limit the relevant exemption to charitable organisations, where public benefit must be established, or at least can be disproved; an alternative course appears to have been pursued in the legislation before the High Court in the Scientology Case (at 164). But these are matters for others. There has been some debate about the extent to which the tax context should affect the exposition of the law of charity. But it is hard to resist the sense of the following remarks of Lord Halsbury in dissent in Pemsel’s case (at 551):

“There is no purpose in a Taxing Act but to raise money, and an exemption is just as much within this criticism as any part of the Act, since every exemption throws an additional burden on the rest of the community.”

Or, as Cardozo J once observed in Burnet v Guggenheim 288 US 280 at 286 (1933): “The construction that is liberal to one taxpayer may be illiberal to others.”

  1. In my view, the Crown should pay costs to give some indemnity to the applicant for its legal costs incurred in this particular exercise.  I think that it would be best if I fixed the  costs now. The case ran for  the best part of two days, and would, I think, have entailed some preparation above that normally included in a brief fee. I take  into  account  the relevant regulations, in particular cl 9 of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (Taxation Division) Regulations 1985, and the reference there to County Court costs, which I think in this case should be toward the upper end of the relevant scales. I think that I may also act on my  own  knowledge of the market in legal fees and costs, and the  quantum  of orders for costs previously made by this    Taking  those factors into account, I should think that I should fix $2,700.00 as the sum to be paid by the Crown to the applicant.

15.        Order

The Comptroller did not contend that any duty would otherwise be payable if the applicant succeeded in its contention that it was entitled to the relevant exemption; if that is not the case, the parties can mention the matter at an appropriate time. For the reasons given above, the orders of the tribunal are that:

  • the assessment under reference be varied by being reduced to nil;

and

  • the respondent pay to the applicant $2,700.00 costs of the

Orders accordingly

Solicitors for applicant: Co”s Pavey Whiting & Byrne

Solicitor for respondents: F N Brody

ALC

 

Passing Bull 205 – The usual suspects

 

Volume 4 is now out and available on Amazon Kindle.  Preparing it for publication led me to write the following in the Introduction.

Volume IV contains the next fifty posts.  I am saddened by the repetition in this volume.  Try a field search on the usual suspects.  So I dedicate this volume to the folks at the IPA and Murdoch press whose outstanding contributions to bullshit led to the following comments set out in a post contained in this book.

But then we are told that if the P M backtracks, he will be eviscerated by the conservatives in his own party.  This is a shocking abuse or misuse of the term ‘conservative’.  As best as I can see, the people referred to are nothing like ‘conservatives’.  They look to have the following views.

They are attracted to factions, plots, conspiracies and coups in the same way that little boys like playing with matches.  They love rubbishing the elites of the political class, even though they occupy the commanding heights of that class.  They think that patriotism is a decent and useful term.  They even have a closet hankering after Donald Trump’s Operation Faithful Patriot, because they neither like nor trust migrants, which can lead to problems in a migrant nation.  They get misty-eyed about civilisation, but then they get coy about how the epithet Western might qualify the noun.  They have never held down a real job.  They would not know what a working man looks like.  They believe that people without a tertiary degree, even those as useless as theirs, are bloody lucky to have the vote, and that if there is such a thing as a dinkum Aussie, he would be the definitive pain in the bum.  They consort with shock jocks and the Murdoch press.  If you took away their clichés and labels, they would be stark naked.  They hold that it is not right to criticise Donald Trump.  They maintain that Israel and its current PM can do no wrong.  They think that supporters of Palestinians are Green/Left dupes of the Love Media who are soft on border security and sovereignty to boot.  They practise a curious form of faith that allows them to hold that running a concentration camp for children in the Pacific conforms with the Sermon on the Mount.  They believe that most experts are frauds (unless they are involved in saving their life or liberty).  Science is bullshit and worries about the climate are alarmist (it is bad taste to mention California Burning so near the event – that’s like talking about the dead after another massacre).  Thoughts and prayers can cure most ills since by and large God is all that He is cracked up to be – even if you don’t take His word too seriously too close to home.  They have bizarre dreams about liberty or freedom that would have led to a fit of the giggles in Edmund Burke or Disraeli.  They are relieved that the gorgeously photogenic imports into the House of Windsor comfy rug will save these colonies from the delusional insecurity of Home Rule or independence.  They believe – devoutly – that cadres of the IPA are well educated and rational philosophers and economists who have election-winning ideas for the true believers.  And while it is both polite and meaningful for them to label others as progressives, it is neither polite nor meaningful for them to be labelled as regressive, reactionary or retrograde.

In short, this motley is a viscerally uncomely mix of the clown, the dunce, and the jerk.  They are a dream come true for Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition.  If you want an example, look out for the unsullied brashness of that boyish senator who looks like his mum dresses him and then combs his hair.  Or catch a glint of that Chesty Bond smile of Tim Wilson, M P.  And then salute the flag and hum a few bars from the Goons’ classic hit ‘I’m walking backwards for Christmas – across the Irish Sea.’  I wonder if they have their own version of a Masonic hand-shake?  And just what condition was God in when he set up this Comédie Humaine?

The saddest part about these falsely named ‘conservatives’ is that they are prone to endorse what is called populism, which is the antithesis of conservatism, and while they bemoan the death of faith in politics and liberal democracy, they are among the principal instruments of that death.

With all best wishes

Geoffrey Gibson

Malmsbury, Victoria,

21 July 2019.

Bloopers

Groupthink is a remarkable is a remarkable phenomenon.  I guess it is all about wanting to be loved, wanting to conform with those around us in order to be socially acceptable.

Chris Kenny, The Australian, 22 July, 2019.

Electoral idiocy of this kind is all too common these days in the eyes of the political class….The greatest agreement over Brexit is found among the intelligentsia.  The experts are in agreement, as experts so often are, since they are frequently considered to be experts because they uphold the establishment opinion.

Nick Cater, The Australian, 22 July, 2019.

Unless two of the most conformist members of the political class, who hate experts for obvious reasons, heed the warning of Woody Allen, they will go blind.  They are astoundingly predictable.
From the Financial Times, 15 July, 2019.

The fundamental organising principle of populism is a divide between the people and the elite. The ‘commonality of people’ have an innate sense of what is right, which helps to explain ‘why so much populist politics will short-circuit discussion or examination: because the people’s preferences are innate. And because they are innate, they are just and cannot be argued with.’

The second important component, Fieschi says, is betrayal by an elite, typically one that has a greater sense of allegiance to its own members than to the people or the nation.

The third is authenticity, the leitmotif of Fieschi’s book.  By authenticity she does not mean an unvarnished image or consistent beliefs — the magic dust for all modern politicians — but a politics rooted in instinct rather than reason, ‘the politics of the gut’. It allows the populist to dismiss opponents as hypocrites and provides licence to speak one’s mind without limits, to be direct to the point of shamelessness. 

Fieschi combines conceptual analysis with real examples to chart the historic evolution of populism. Mr Le Pen was a prototype who began to write the populist manual with his use of the ‘calculated provocation’. ‘Lying as a demonstration of one’s irrepressibly authentic nature: what could be more sincere than that?’ Fieschi asks.

Italy’s former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, she writes, pioneered ‘entrepreneurial’ but non-ideological populism. Anti-establishment comedian Beppe Grillo broke ground with his blog and web-based ‘democracy’. Matteo Salvini, the leader of Italy’s hard right League, is always available, always accessible, seemingly unstoppable. 

The section on Brexit Britain is less original. Luckily Fieschi moves swiftly on to a much harder question: why are today’s voters so susceptible to populist charms? Her thesis is that digital technology has made us receptive to populism by exalting immediacy, simplicity and transparency. Without complexity, delay and frustration we do not pause for reflection.

Passing Bull 204 – We are losing our minds

 

Reliance on computers and the  mistrust of subordinates mean that we are losing our minds.

Mention the word Centrelink to people and most give you a look of mixed terror and contempt.  I am applying for a Commonwealth Health Card through My Gov.  It took me three visits to Bendigo and three to Castlemaine to complete the application. (And I understood as much of that as I understand of my tax returns.  So much for fifteen visits to Cambridge, Harvard or Oxford.)  I spent about twenty hours on a process that should take twenty minutes.  After a couple of months, I got a computer generated reply which ignored everything that I had said in a letter, made a request for further information, which request I have asked them to explain to me, and said my application might lapse if I did not respond in fourteen days.  If you screw up your courage to ring them, you get warned about being cross with them.  I first encountered this civilian terror at H M Customs on the Gare du Nord.  Feisty Brits turning up late with a skin full.

For reasons I forget, the two Master Cards I have from the Bendigo Bank have very different limits.  (I also have an O/D which is secured.  There is no home loan.  The security is worth more than ten times any permissible debt.)  I attended at the Branch to say that I wanted the same limit on each card, but so as to reduce the limit overall and so reduce the risk to the bank – by about half.  It took me a while to explain this.  To my horror, I was told that if I wanted to do that, I would have to back to the beginning and fill in a very long form about all my finances and then attend by appointment to discuss it with a bank officer – and, presumably, be cross-examined.  I was told this politely but in a manner that suggested that this would be the end of the matter.  All this because I wanted to reduce my possible debt to this bank.  When the word ‘ridiculous’ fell from my lips, my interlocutor looked bemused, if not hurt.  I am a shareholder in the bank, and this kind of madness worries me – it makes them look like the big four, from whom I deliberately walked away.  I have sent a note to Head Office asking if they are serious, and after some days I am still waiting for an answer.  I regard this as a sackable offence.

Two days later, I was exposed to worse madness.  I was appointed a mediator in a court ordered mediation.  An unrepresented litigant defaulted on paying his share of the fee.  I got my clerk to write to the court asking it to nominate a government official to whom I could apply for an indemnity.  The answer was that it was not appropriate to nominate someone else because this officer of the court though there was no basis for such an application.  If you saw it on Monty Python, you would just laugh.  But it isn’t funny.  There is a legal question of whether a person carrying out a function pursuant to a court order is entitled to indemnity on the ordinary principles of agency.  But there is also a policy question of whether a government that relies on the cooperation and support of a profession should be seen to treat a member of that profession in a way that ordinary people would say is lousy.  As far as I know, no legal advice has been sought on the first question, and no consideration has been given to the second.  What do they want me to do – sue the State of Victoria for a declaration?  (It’s OK – I’m not that mad; just browned off.)

Then I had to notify Telstra of a change in my credit card.  I was desperate to avoid a phone call – for reasons you will understand.  But the computer kept stopping me doing it on-line.  It refused to accept my date of birth!  It’s been the same bloody way for seventy-three years, Mate.  (It was the day on which Luther took his stand – ‘I can do no other’ – and nailed his theses to the door.  He was protesting!)  So I went to ‘Contact us.’  Have you noticed how corporations then make it as difficult as possible for you to get anywhere near the bastards?  You have to fill in forms and answer questions and do really sensible things like give your driver’s licence.  Then I was blocked again.  How?  Surely you have guessed.  ‘Contact us’ also refused to accept my date of birth!  Hullo Asia, coming ready or not.  For sheer bastardry and difficulty, and mistrust of people generally, especially their own staff, Telstra is up there with Centrelink.  That’s why I sold all my shares in that company – getting out of Centrelink is not so straightforward.

The idiot who said that that which does not kill us makes us stronger did not have to deal with these bunnies.  And as I understand it, those two Boeings drove into the earth killing hundreds of people because the pilot could not override the computer.

We are losing our minds – and our souls.

Bloopers

Retiring as late as 64 would make the French die younger, said the radical left party France Unbowed.  French lawyers said the reform was a death sentence for their profession.

The Weekend Australian, July 20-21, 2019.

No wonder French roads are clogged with campervans.  Why would anyone want to retire at 64 – or at all?

**

KPMG is another prominent supporter of a constitutionally entrenched voice, as are other major accounting firms, the Law Council of Australia and several ASX-listed companies.  Those trying to railroad their staff, and the rest of the country, into supporting an ill-defined voice to parliament are the new workplace bullies…..Some have been put on notice that offering support for a fundamental change to Australia’s founding document without any meaningful details is tantamount to condoning constitutional sabotage.  (Emphasis added.)

Janet Albrechtsen, The Weekend Australian, July 20-21, 2019

Does all this shrillness ever get anywhere?  Does anyone ever read any of this stuff – before or after publication?

Passing Bull 203 – The strange and quick collapse of conservatives

 

The conservative parties in the U S and the U K – Republicans and Tories – have collapsed, morally and intellectually, in about three years – since the U K voted to leave Europe and the U S elected Donald Trump.  The U K is about to consummate its collapse by appointing – that is the word – Boris Johnson as Prime Minister.

The Spectator is a venerable weekly paper that has been solidly conservative and represented the Tory line.  It is now in sharp descent and on its way down to the level of its Australian version, which is as inane as it is vulgar.  The Weekend Australian printed an opinion piece from The Spectator that included the following.

For those capable of looking beyond Brexit, the potential of a Trump-Boris alliance is arguably Britain’s biggest hope.

Boris isn’t by nature a pushover, which is one of the reasons he and Trump will get along.  And he seems to understand the President’s mentality: play nice, and Donald returns the favour.

The two men have a chemistry that goes beyond their unusual hairstyles.  Both grasp that a profound shift is taking place in politics, one that has propelled people like them to power.

They also sense, in the way that macho beasts often do, a certain destiny in each other.  Trump is possibly the last great Anglophile president; recall his delight as he visited Buckingham Palace last month.  Trump likes Britain, Brexit and Boris; it’s that simple.

Boris, for his part, was born in New York and gave up his American passport only for tax reasons – something Trump can understand.  He’s a Churchill enthusiast, therefore an Atlanticist in outlook.  He’s always preferred America’s stress on national unity to the fragmented federalism of the EU.

Trump and Boris will see each other being attacked by the same kinds of people for the same reasons: offending political correctness, not paying attention to detail, lacking the gravitas high office demands.  Yet both men draw crowds and inspire loyalty.  Trump and Boris are seen by their supporters as leaders who can shake up a failed system.

Apart from the reference to the ‘profound shift’ in politics, it is very hard to detect one proposition that is not just pure moonshine, but nauseating moonshine.  But even if you agreed with everything said, it is impossible to dream of any meaning of the word ‘conservative’ that is consistent with it.  Trump and Johnson don’t want to conserve the status quo – they want to wreck it.  It is sufficient to mention three things.  First, The Spectator urges appeasement (‘play nice’) of this ‘macho beast’ – ask Mrs May about that policy (yes, the ‘foolish’ Mrs May).  Secondly, The Spectator sees an English reliance on Europe being replaced by a reliance on the U S; people of this ilk like the word ‘vassal’; being in service to Donald Trump is not a pretty or safe sight.  Thirdly, The Spectator says both men ‘draw crowds and inspire loyalty.’  Has anyone offered a better description of a ‘populist’, the exact reverse of a ‘conservative’?

To whom can rational conservatives turn?  Or has the word now lost all meaning?

Bloopers

Instead of changing the channel or reading a different newspaper, Richard Di Natale was caught during the last election saying that he wanted sections of Sky and News Corp shut down…..The sacking of Israel Folau is bigger than a legal biff about a contract and a code of conduct.  Folau was sacked for sinning against the new moral code.  It is a totemic clash of religions, between old ones such as Christianity (but it could be Islam next) and the new religion promulgated by a new secular class that wants to stop a man from posting different moral judgments drawn from a centuries-old code of conduct called the Bible.

Janet Albrechtsen, The Weekend Australian, 13-14 July, 2019

Well now, where to start?  A politician was ‘caught’ saying he wanted parts of the press shut down.  Goodness, gracious, me!  People who work for Mr Murdoch want the ABC shut down and they regularly attack it.  And with this government, they are having success.  The government is strangling the ABC.

As part of the Murdoch campaign, Albrechtsen attacks the ABC in the same piece.  ‘If the ABC is the media arm that spreads the new religion, Rugby Australia’s Raelene Castle has become its self-appointed priestess.’  This is prize-winning bullshit.  As these journalists do, she says the ABC is tax-payer funded.  News Corp is also funded by public money.  The ABC does not I think trade – in the legal sense – but the two corporations have something in common.  They have stakeholders and if they set out to annoy or offend those stakeholders, there will be consequences.  How would the Murdoch press react if the ABC refused to sack an announcer (or if News Corp refused to sack a journalist) for saying that because of their faith they believe that: Sharia law should be adopted throughout Australia; Burmese Buddhists should hound Muslims out of the country; or Australians should be encouraged to make deductible donations to the Church of Scientology – so that it too could become taxpayer-funded?  And what if the employer said it was powerless to act because the offender was merely exercising their freedom of religion?

And why not just change the channel – or read a different newspaper? Just think of the load that would take off the shoulders of Mr Henderson if he was not doomed to maintain his watch on the Antichrist.

Then there is Mr Folau again.  May I say that when I ran a statutory tribunal, we decided cases within six weeks of the reference and usually after a hearing concluded in one morning?  I see no reason why the Folau case could not be disposed of in that time and at a cost of less than $2OK.  Only God knows where the $3M figure comes from.

But we are told that’s not what this case is about.  The writer rewrites history in a fact free zone.  This, we are told, is ‘a totemic clash of religions’.  To get there, she makes one religion up.  This is astounding bullshit.  Fortunately, and the paper should be congratulated, two other pieces, this time on the Op Ed page, makes plain at least some of the bullshit.

Peter Van Onselen says:

It’s the once all-powerful religious types claiming victimhood against one of the groupings in society they long victimised, the gay and lesbian community….Poor Israel Folau had his freedom of religion curtailed apparently because his employer has an expectation that its employees adhere to a code of conduct.  The extent to which he isn’t oppressed could hardly have been better demonstrated than via the fast and lucrative flow of donations that came his way when the Australian Christian Lobby decided to get involved.

The intervention of the ACL will do as much for religion in this country as the sight of its Prime Minister offering government comfort to 20,000 cheering Hillsong members at a floodlit night-time parade.  The ACL is apparently against a charter human rights.  I don’t know if freedom of religion is a human right or a divine right.  The Folau campaign is publicly funded, but are donations to it tax deductible?

Katrina Grace Kelly (quel nom!) says:

Ironically, and just as an aside, it has been terrifically amusing of late to observe those usually demanding legal change to make it easier to dismiss workers vociferously demanding legal change that will make it harder to dismiss workers – by virtue of their support for a high-profile footballer, recently sacked.  (Emphasis added.)

It does rather look like people are invoking freedom of religion to destroy freedom of contract.  Put differently, it is novel that people claiming to be ‘conservatives’ – that word again – want a statutory tribunal to be able to relieve a person of the burden of a contact from which he has derived great profit but which he now finds in part unsuited to his needs.  Roscoe Pound is good on this.

Equity in America shows the same influence [protecting private rights].  The Puritan has always been a consistent and thorough-going opponent of equity.  It runs counter to all his ideas. For one thing, it helps fools who have made bad bargains, whereas he believes that fools should be allowed and required to act freely and then be held for the consequences of their folly.  For another thing, it acts directly upon the person.  It coerces the individual free will.

That is very Boston – and very IPA.  We can imagine a statutory intervention into freedom of contract attracting all kinds of epithets – including the dreaded ‘S’ word.

And it is a little hard to take seriously a claim of victimhood by a church in a nation whose head of state must be a communicant member of that church.

But why let mere facts stop a good dream?  It’s that simple.

Passing Bull 202 – Bull on recognition

 

Stand by for an outpouring of bullshit about recognition of the First Nations.  It will come from people like Andrew Bolt and Craig Laundy.  These people, who falsely claim to be Conservatives, thrive on division.  Bolt makes a handsome living from it.  On what basis will Mr Laundy oppose any constitutional change?  ‘I think that idea is divisive.’  It is a fair bet that the opposition will come from those who said, and possibly believed, that the vilification of Adam Goodes had nothing to do with the fact that he is an Aboriginal.

Bloopers

And they all live in Byron Bay? Yes. According to a Vanity Fair article, they are ‘a cross-tagging, cross-promoting, mutually amplifying, audience-sharing group of friends living, loving, working and posting aspirational lifestyle content in a highly Instagrammable paradise’.

I hate them. You are not alone, but it is working for them. The Instagram mums of Byron are brands, exploiting themselves and their families to push either their own products or those of select sponsors.

The Guardian, 5 July, 2019.

I don’t believe in an afterlife – like Einstein, I think once is enough – but if there is, I pray that there are no mobile phones.

**

There is a misdiagnosis that credibility for a voice comes from a constitutional anchor, when its credibility would come from connection to community and country.

Tim Wilson, MP, in The Age, 11 July 2019.

Brother Tim is a talking head and the undisputed King of Bullshit in this country, but you can expect an avalanche of bullshit on this subject.

 

Passing Bull 201 – Bull about activists

 

‘Activist’ is a term of abuse for some.  I am not sure why.  If an activist is someone who actively seeks to change public attitudes, is there anything necessarily wrong with that?  Prime candidates would be Mahatma Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King.  And, for that matter, Martin Luther and that son of a Jewish carpenter who started it all.

Are we wrong to look up to these people?  What makes them heroic but makes other activists nasty?  The answer is I think that you accuse someone of being an ‘activist’ when you don’t want the change in public attitudes that they wish to bring about.  Like a reduced reliance on coal.

This intellectual lesion – for that is what it is – is linked to another.  Some people say – and for the most part they keep a straight face – that corporates or business people generally should not engage in public debate about political, social or moral attitudes.  Again, I am not sure why.

This response is odd for two reasons.  First it mainly comes from people who sprout about freedom of speech at the drop of a hat – but here they want to restrict that freedom in others.

The second reason that this response is odd is that it is bullshit. Business is conducted in a community and if the business people get offside with their community, that may well be bad for business.  That is why a body in the entertainment industry like the AFL has to take and be seen to take an active interest in diversity issues like gay rights, aboriginal recognition, and equal pay for women.

That is why Rugby Australia had to adopt the position it did with Folau.  If people in that kind of business are seen to act against gays or indigenous people or women, the commercial consequences could be dire.

The same goes for BHP and aborigines.  Mining companies have to work with aborigines and be seen to maintain a good relationship with them.  Alcoa said as much in a successful libel action against the ABC for saying they did not care about aborigines.

None of that is hard to understand.  The Financial Times today had an interview with the house counsel of BHP.

BHP was among the companies named in an investigation begun by the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines in 2015, into whether fossil fuel groups have violated human rights by causing climate change. The company formally severed ties with the World Coal Association last year, after Australian green groups urged it to quit industry lobby groups whose policies did not match the miner’s support for the Paris climate agreement. Ms Cox says climate change is high on her team’s agenda because the company knows its long-term sustainability depends on support from investors, regulators and the broader society. ‘We need the support of our communities in order to be successful’, she says.

That is basic business common sense.  It is why Woolworths are getting out of gaming and why the AFL is advised to do the same.

Why, then, the criticism?  The answer is the same.  The critics reject the message.  An ‘activist’ is likely to be a ‘progressive’.  It worries these people not a bit that one term is as senseless as the other.  And the irony is that this activism is a response to a gross failure of leadership by governments of the kind the critics machinate for.

Still we are living at a time when people are giving millions to a millionaire who is suing for more millions a body he pledged his loyalty to and then ratted on – and they claim to be doing so in God’s name for a man content to damn one in every ten people on earth to be blasted in fire for eternity because they are different to him.

There is one born every minute.

But if, which I doubt, there is a God, there is every chance that He is very down and dirty on these galahs because they are trashing His product here on Earth.