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Australia: BHP says it does not support limits on environmental groups' ability to engage in advocacy

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28 November 2017

Australia: Minerals Council withdraws previous support for policies limiting advocacy by environmental organizations

Author: Michael Slezak, The Guardian (UK)

"Mining industry body retreats from hardline stance on charities", 27 Nov 2017

Australia’s mining industry has stepped back from its hard line on trying to limit the charity sector’s lobbying on energy and climate change issues. The Minerals Council of Australia says it does not support policies requiring environmental charities to devote most of their resources to on-the-ground remediation, despite previously writing submissions to government calling for it to consider such policies. Although the new stance seems to contradict earlier statements, the MCA insists there has been no change in its position. The move comes amid fractures between the MCA’s membership over the tough approach, with BHP recently publicly distancing itself from the MCA’s position on activity requirements for environmental charities. “They’ve over-reached in bashing-up on civil society, coal and climate and energy issues,” said...the Australia Institute, [which] pressured the MCA to clarify its position. “They’ve gone rogue and they’re being pulled back – and that’s a good thing.”...[I ]n August ..the MCA published its submission to federal Treasury’s inquiry... [I]t said Treasury’s proposal to allow environmental charities to only spend 50% of their expenditure on political advocacy was “sound in principle”, but urged Treasury to consider limiting it further to just 10%...

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10 November 2017

Australia: BHP supports environmental groups; opposes Minerals Council attempt to limit groups' political advocacy

"BHP backs green groups over the Minerals Council as industry rift widens", 9 Nov 2017

BHP has told environmental groups it does not support elements of a campaign by the Minerals Council to impose greater control on their spending...It is an unusual alliance to say the least — a mining giant siding with green groups against the powerful lobbyists working for its own industry which it helps bankroll...But in an extraordinary move...BHP has written to charity groups saying it does not support the winding back of their tax advantages. "We do not support changes that limit public advocacy to 10 percent of funds, or requirements to spend 25 percent of funds on environmental remediation," BHP told five environmental and community groups it wrote to...BHP also set out its broad support for the advocacy work of charities, describing it as, "An important contribution to public policy development and the democratic process". The ABC approached the Minerals Council but it declined to comment...BHP says it will complete a review of its membership of industry associations by the end of the year. But activists hope next week's AGM is D-Day, with the board facing a resolution to dump the Minerals Council.

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8 November 2017

BHP opposes Minerals Council of Australia's war on activist rights

Author: Michael Slezak, The Guardian (UK)

BHP has said it will not support the Minerals Council’s bid to strip environmental groups of their ability to advocate for policy change.The surprising move comes amid increasing pressure on [BHP] to distance itself from the Minerals Council [MCA], which has taken a hardline position against...credible action on climate change. The government will soon table a bill aimed at limiting the ability of any charity to use donations raised from overseas on advocacy in Australia. The MCA has argued that environmental charities should be forced to commit 90% of...resources to...environmental remediation..., leaving only 10% for political advocacy. It made the suggestion in a submission to a Treasury inquiry... BHP has faced a shareholder resolution...calling on the company to leave the MCA... It said BHP risked reputational damage by being a member... [R]esolution...was supported by...Calpers... HSBC bank and the Church of England... BHP... [agreed] to review its membership of the MCA... BHP [wrote] to...environmental groups...saying it does not support limits on [their] ability...to engage in advocacy... [Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsiblity] said: "Until BHP withdraws from the MCA, it should expect to be held to account for bankrolling [its] activities.” BHP and the MCA declined to comment.

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