The Senate economics committee, inquiring into South Australian senator Nick Xenophon's private bill for more accountability on the tax-exempt status of charities and religious organizations, recommended that a commission be established to probe the finances of the not-for-profit sector.
The commission would scrutinize the books of not-for-profit organizations exempted from paying tax against a public benefit test, to ensure they were providing a genuine service to the community. It was also recommended that the Attorney-General make inquiries about the establishment of an anti-cult taskforce.
Senator Xenophon, who has also pushed for a Senate inquiry into the Church of Scientology, said he was very pleased with the committee's findings. He adds,"It's one of those rare cases where I've gotten more than I asked for".
Senator Xenophon said that although the overwhelming majority of religious organizations did good work, the establishment of a charities commission would be "a very significant deterrence" for some organizations alleged to have engaged in cult-like behavior.
Gravy Train Over For Scientology
A spokeswoman for the Church of Scientology yesterday said any suggestion that it was a cult "is absurd"."The church has none of the features of a cult, as defined by the Senate committee, and was declared a religion by the High Court of Australia," the spokeswoman said.
Quote fromShe also adds the Church of Scientology did not support the setting up of a new agency to monitor and control minority religious organizations. She said Senator Xenophon was on a "campaign" against the religious organization.
above mentioneddecision of the High Court of Australia [thanks TD] document (click for full), "...Regardless of whether the members of the applicant are gullible or misled or whether the practices of Scientology are harmful or objectionable, the evidence, in our view, establishes that Scientology must, for relevant purposes, be accepted as “a religion” in Victoria. That does not, of course, mean either that the practices of the applicant or its rules are beyond the control of the law of the State or that the applicant or its members are beyond its taxing powers. "
ABC News24 - Breakfast on OZ Senate Report
ABC News Breakfast interview with Senator Annette Hurley / The Chair of the Senate Committee report into the not-for-profit sector, discussing Scientology and the Senate report.
Thanks: Zhent, Clamosaurus, Sponge, TinyDancer