The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission has been asked to investigate the Australian Christian Lobby over its role in helping Israel Folau raise more than a million dollars for his legal fight against Rugby Australia, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
But the ACL have not breached any rules for maintaining their charitable status, according to ACL’s Managing Director, Martyn Iles. In an interview on Sunrise today, Iles explained:
“We got legal advice on this before we went ahead with it. But also, I think it’s just the latest thing… Our purpose is to advocate for changes in law and public policy and the advancement of the Christian religion, and this is a religious freedom issue which has implications for law and public policy.”
— Sunrise (@sunriseon7) June 25, 2019
The ACNC refused to comment yesterday but said they will investigate when a charity acts inappropriately.
We have received multiple requests to comment on ACL’s decision to support Israel Folau’s fundraising efforts. We remind the public that we cannot comment on the circumstances of individual charities. When a charity has acted inappropriately, we will use our powers to investigate.
One Nation MP Mark Latham said one of the many reasons why Australians are backing Israel Folau is because Australians don’t like “a spiteful, vengeful mob setting upon one individual.”
“The media campaign is savage and concerted,” Latham told Sky News. “The denial of his freedom is completely unreasonable and I think the average Australian is thinking, well this bloke’s the underdog – I’m backing him. His cause, particularly with GoFundMe taking down the page, became much bigger than religion. It’s about free speech and the right to have a fair go.”
Folau today expressed his gratitude towards Martyn Iles and the ACL saying: “I am incredibly thankful for the Australian Christian Lobby, which has not only come to my defence in the media, but generously established a website to receive donations on my behalf.”
ACL’s fundraiser currently sits at just under $1.7 million.