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Richard di Natale's letter to the ATO

Richard di Natale's letter to the ATO

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Published by ABC News Online
Greens Senator Richard di Natale's letter to the ATO about anti-wind farm lobby group the Waubra Foundation.
Greens Senator Richard di Natale's letter to the ATO about anti-wind farm lobby group the Waubra Foundation.

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Published by: ABC News Online on Nov 07, 2013
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11/07/2013

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 7 November 2013 Australian Taxation Office Tax Evasion Locked Bag 6050 DANDENONG VIC 3175 Dear Sir or Madam
Deductible Gift Recipient status of The Waubra Foundation Ltd (ACN 152 077 891)
I am concerned that The Waubra Foundation Ltd (WF) does not meet, or no longer meets, the requirements to receive income tax deductible gifts in accordance with the Income Tax Assessment Act (1997) (Cth) (the Act) and I request that your office investigate the matter. I understand that the Trustee for the Waubra Foundation (ABN 658 0114 7788) (the Waubra gift fund) is a
public fund holding Deductible Gift Recipient status for WF, as a “health promotion charity”. Please ad
vise if this understanding is incorrect.
Section 1.1.6 of the Act sets out a general category of deductible gift recipient as “a charitable institution whose principal activity is to promote the prevention or the control of diseases in human beings”.
 Sec
tion 34.20 of the Act defines disease as including “any mental or physical ailment, disorder, defect or
morbid condition, whether of sudden onset or gradual development and whether of genetic or other
origin.”
 WF not promoting the prevention or the control of any disease My first concern is that WF does not appear to promote the prevention or the control of diseases in human beings as required by the Act. Instead, WF lobbies against wind energy by publishing spurious claims about alleged health conditions related to so-
called “Wind Turbine Syndrome” (WTS) found to be entirely without scientific or medical
basis by numerous reputable, independent and qualified bodies. WTS is not and never has been recognised as an illness, disease, ailment, disorder, defect or morbid
condition in any country. According to Professor Simon Chapman (one of Australia’s leading public health experts) WTS “does not appear once among 22 million papers indexed by PubMed , the US National Library
of Medicine's repository of
peer reviewed research published in acknowledged journals.” It is understood
that WTS is a term coined by anti-wind farm activist couple Nina Pierpont and Calvin Luther Martin and promoted by non-medical entities including WF with the effect of hampering the development of wind energy projects.
 
 
In 2010, the National Health and Medical Research Council found that “there is no published scientific evidence to support adverse effects of wind turbines on health.” The NHMRC’s 2010 review is one of 17
reviews to come to this conclusion. In 2011 an expert panel was convened by The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. The panel was composed of seven physicians and scientists with broad expertise in areas including acoustical noise/infrasound, public health, sleep disturbance, mechanical engineering, epidemiology, and neuroscience. After extensive review the
panel concluded “There is no evidence for a set of health effects from
exposure to wind turbines that could
be characterized as *WTS+.”
 In 2012 Senators Madigan and Xenophon sponsored a private members bill aimed at placing new noise standards on wind farms. The bill was ultimately referred to two senate committees, the second of which sought public submissions and conducted a public hearing. After deliberating on much health related
input, the committee reported “while it is possible that the human body may detect infrasound in several
ways, there is no evidence to suggest that inaudible infrasound (either from wind turbines or other sources) is creating health problems. In contrast, there is an established literature confirming the existence
of psychogenic, or “nocebo”, effects in general, and at least one study suggesting
they may be responsible
for symptoms in some wind turbine cases.”
The committee received a scientific paper demonstrating that many of the symptoms described in WTS could be induced in healthy volunteers by exposing subjects to anti-wind farm propaganda readily available on the internet, regardless of whether or not wind farm noise stimulus was present. Having completed a rigorous peer review process, the paper has now been published in Health Psychology, the high impact  journal of the American Psychological Association. Prof Chapman has recently described, in a peer-reviewed published article, a plausible explanation of how the activities of anti-wind farm lobby groups (such as WF) may lead to adverse impacts on the wellbeing of those living near wind far
ms via the ‘nocebo’
effect.
Sarah Laurie, formerly WF’s Medical Director and now its CEO appeared at the South Australian
Environment, Resources and Development (ERD) Court from 13
 –
 14 January, 2011. At the hearing Ms Laurie, a former health practitioner, appeared as a lay witness, as opposed to an expert witness, due to her lack of appropriate qualifications to judge wind farm health impacts. Dr Gary Wittert, Head of Medical faculty at the University of Adelaide and a registered physician, was an expert witness at the hearing. He
testified “There is no credible evidence of a causal link, between the physical outputs of a turbine (or sets of turbines)… and adverse effects on health.” Dr Wittert explained that data presented by Ms Laurie at the
hearing, if anything, disproved her hypothesis that blood pressure was related to turbine operation. The
ERD ultimately found Ms Laurie’s testimony unconvincing. WF’s rules (enclosed at Annexure 1) include the following key objectives relevant to classification as
a
“health promotion charity”:
 (a) Gather, investigate and review complaints of health problems that have been perceived by the complainants as being associated with living or working close to wind turbines or such other industrial sources that may be considered as relevant;
 
 (f) Promote research into the effects and causes of illnesses that may be associated with living or working close to wind turbines and other relevant sources; (h) Facilitate the establishment of individual networks of relevant specialties of medical practitioners and other health practitioners to enable the rapid sharing of information an expertise in the diagnosis, management and treatment of patients with symptoms of wind turbine syndrome.
Use of the terms “perceived by the complainants as being associated with” and “may be associated with”
is consistent with the overwhelming consensus of the medical fraternity that there is no established or
accepted link between the health complaints subject of WF’s investigations and wind energy. I
ndeed there is not a single national or state medical body or national academy of science worldwide that supports the notion of a WTS disease.
As such, it would appear that WF is not “a charitable institution whose principal activity is to promote the prevention or the control of diseases in human beings”.
 WF using deductible gift funds for non-charitable purposes It is my concern that WF may have applied funds received by the Waubra gift fund to activities unrelated to the acceptable activities of a health promotion charity. WF emailed its supporter base on 22 March 2012, soliciting (tax deductible) donations in relation to litigation against wind farm development. This would appear to be activity wholly outside that permitted
by WF’s tax status and warrants further investigation.
I enclose press articles to this effect and an email sent by a WF Director to supporters that would seem to convey that WF solicited DGR funding to be applied to litigation (Annexure 2A). WF emailed its supporter base in October 2013 again soliciting tax deductible donations to help provide additional legal representation to residents objecting to a proposed wind farm in a case before the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (Annexure 2B). Not in the public interest; Not a charity. It is my concern that the activities of WF fail the public interest test, and as such WF cannot be said to be a charity. WF is engaged in an advocacy campaign through the media, community meetings, email mailing lists and political lobbying. It would appear that the campaign uses arguments to incite fears primarily in relation to health, but also fire risk and property values for the purpose of frustrating the development of wind energy in Australia. It has been argued that the resultant anxiety created is itself a cause of adverse health effects. WF has advocated for a moratorium on wind energy development until such time as further research has been done. At no time has the WF publicly suggested a research methodology.

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