Judgment has been entered in High Court claim no. BL-2017-000101 against the Defendant Laurence Roy Moffitt (a.k.a. Laurie Moffitt) for copyright infringement, misuse of private information and breach of confidence in respect of the address books containing the names and addresses of the members of the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church. Permanent injunctions have been granted. Mr Moffitt has been ordered to pay damages and to pay the Claimants’ legal costs on the indemnity basis.
Tuesday, 17 January 2017
Pastor Danny Nalliah's church faces tax bill after charity status revoked
The church headed by controversial Victorian pastor Daniel "Danny" Nalliah has been stripped of its charity status, and could face a retrospective tax bill, after its congregation was asked to make election donations to an anti-Islamic political party he also leads.
Catch The Fire Ministries had its registration revoked by the Australian Charities and Not-For-Profits Commission, with acting commissioner David Locke declaring such an action was "reserved for the most serious of cases".
The decision has been backdated to January 2014, which means the church could have to repay three years of Commonwealth charity tax concessions.
In 2014 and 2015 it received more than $500,000 in donations, tithes and offerings.
While the commission says it is prevented from disclosing further details of the case "due to secrecy provisions" it is understood the deregistration is related to the church's outspoken support of Rise Up Australia, the political party of which Mr Nalliah is also the leader.
"God has given us a great product in Rise Up Australia Party to Keep Australia Australian (a vehicle to see our Government, Society and Nation turn around) with a great brand name and great consumer demand for our product," the post said.
Under the Charities Act 2013, charities cannot promote or oppose a political party or candidate for political office.
On Tuesday, Mr Nalliah said he was told that the "main offence" of the church were the political articles posted to its website, many of which highlight crimes allegedly committed by Muslims.
"It's my argument that we have a right to political speech and it's really unfair [for that to be taken away]," Mr Nalliah said.
Catch The Fire Ministries has 60 days to object to the charity commission's decision, which sees it stripped of its charities registration and associated GST concession, income tax exemption and fringe benefits tax rebate.
Mr Nalliah branded the decision an injustice and said he was consulting his lawyers about possible next steps.
Among the services operated by the Catch The Fire Ministries out of its church in Hallam is a pregnancy counselling centre.
The centre was donated an ultrasound machine in 2008. At the time Mr Nalliah said that the equipment would help the church prevent abortions.
"Can we all say 'Thank You Jesus' for the many babies who will be saved now and given the opportunity to live out their God-given destinies!" he wrote on the church's website.
Though this week Mr Nalliah said the centre offered "neutral advice" to women, he once famously said the devastating Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria were God's revenge for the state's "incendiary abortion laws which decimate life in the womb".
The incident is one of a number of times he has made headlines.
Catch The Fire Ministries says it gives food to 100 families a week, supports two orphanages in Sri Lanka (where Mr Nalliah was born) and holds more than 80 prayer meetings around Australia each week.
The church has six part-time paid staff and casual employers but Mr Nalliah said he and his wife did not draw salaries from the church.
"We are voluntarily serving the community," he said.
According to the charities commission, charities in Australia can advocate for change to a government policy, but should not support (or oppose) a specific political party, or ask their members to direct their vote to a candidate.
About 14,500 religious charities are registered in Australia.