The Melbourne edition of The Epoch Times is now Australia’s first charitable newspaper, after endorsement as a charitable institution by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
The ATO’s endorsement of The Epoch Times is the first of its kind in Australia. A not-for-profit newspaper would not generally fall under the Australian legal definition of charitable, after a 1934 High court case—Roman Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne v. Lawlor—found that a newspaper is not a charitable object.
“I believe achieving the status of a charitable institution, despite a precedent that has existed in Australia for almost 80 years, clearly demonstrates that the Australian Taxation Office understands how critical The Epoch Times is as a global news media,” said Thomas Houston, CEO of The Epoch Times International Inc.
The ATO found The Epoch Times to be a charitable organisation after reviewing the founding purposes of the newspaper—to fill the void of truthful news coverage of events in China and to report on matters of public interest from around the world.
The Epoch Times was the first newspaper to report widely on issues including the SARS epidemic, the melamine milk scandal, and the Chinese Communist regime’s abuses against members of the Falun Gong spiritual group, after Chinese media censors stifled these stories within China.
In Australia, The Epoch Times has reported on issues of national concern, including the Chinese regime’s overseas spy networks, the controversial Confucius Institutes language program, and unethical business practices by Chinese companies in Australia.
Organisations like the Public Interest Journalism Foundation (PIJF) have called on the Federal Government to introduce tax deductibility for donations to not-for-profit media groups producing quality journalism in the public interest.
In a letter sent to Communications Minister Stephen Conroy in July, PIJF asked the Government to consider “adopting the future of an informed citizenry as a national priority” and to establish grants for journalistic research. The foundation highlighted that the US had already led the way in granting tax-exempt status to not-for-profit media organisations.
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