Media Release 16 May 2017
Family First NZ has been told by media that the government’s Charities Board still wants to deregister us despite the board being rebuked in an earlier decision in the Wellington High Court in 2015 where they were told that “….Members of the Charities Board may personally disagree with the views of Family First, but at the same time recognise there is a legitimate analogy between its role and those organisations that have been recognised as charities.”
(Family First has contacted the Charities Board who would neither confirm nor deny this information, and would not follow our request to put out a statement saying that no decision has been reached yet.)
“It should be disturbing to all NZ’ers that a charity that researches, educates and speaks up on issues which are deemed incorrect by the political elite is in danger of being penalised. An easy way for opponents of a point of view is for them to use the Charities Board to muzzle them. Family First’s traditional view of marriage being one man and one woman was cited as one of the reasons for the earlier attempts at deregistration,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“If the media’s sources are correct, this latest development will have a chilling effect for many charitable groups – both registered, deregistered and wanting to be registered – who advocate for causes, beliefs, and on behalf of their supporters, and often have to engage in political activity, not always through choice but through necessity. This decision regarding Family First is an abuse of governmental power and shows that governmental groups are being used to enforce an ideology.”
Family First has previously been told; “(W)e do not consider that the Trust continues to qualify for registration as it has an independent purpose to promote and protect the traditional family and this is not charitable.”
“There will be some people who oppose Family First and believe we should be censored. Our warning to them is that one day a government who disagrees with their view may come gunning for them,” says Mr McCoskrie.
“The Charities Board may hope that Family First will fold its tent and quietly retreat. We won’t be. We’ll fight this all the way. But once again, supporters of Family First will have to dig deep to legally defend the existence of an organisation that benefits them. And taxpayers will have to underwrite the Charities Board’s repeated attempts to muzzle us.”
In the Wellington High Court decision in 2015, Justice Collins recognised the strength of Family First’s argument that its advocacy for the concept “…of the traditional family is analogous to organisations that have advocated for the ‘mental and moral improvement’ of society.…”
“Family First gained approval as a charity, has also passed two ‘audits’ – one as recently as 2010 – and has made no change to the nature of our operations over the eleven years of its existence. It appears that only the opinion of the government organisation overseeing charities has changed,” says Mr McCoskrie.
Official documents received by Family First NZ show that just one complaint was made against Family First and was lodged on the day that the organisation presented a petition to Parliament on behalf of almost 50,000 kiwis calling on politicians to reject the bill to redefine marriage.
“When a group who promotes the natural family as a fundamental social unit is deemed of ‘no public benefit’, you know a country is in deep trouble. The original decision to deregister Family First during the recent marriage debate was a highly politicised one.”
Family First will immediately be instructing its legal team to vigorously fight any attempts to deregister it.