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Vegan activist group who shut down Melbourne’s CBD stripped of charity status

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The vegan activist group who shut down a busy Melbourne intersection for four hours in April has had its charity status revoked.

The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) today stripped Vegan Rising of its charity status, ruling that veganism is not in the public interest, and the group failed to meet record-keeping requirements.

But the vegan group insists it lost its charity status because the government is trying to silence animal activists.

“We weren’t surprised,” Vegan Rising campaign director Kristin Leigh told 3AW’s Nick McCallum.

“We understand that the government and the ACNC, who acts on behalf of the government, wants to silence dissent and keep business as usual for animal abusive industries.”

The group shut down the intersection of Swanston and Flinders streets for four hours in April, and 36 activists were charged following the massive disruption.

An investigation into the group’s charity status launched not long after the protest.

But Vegan Rising maintains it is a charitable organisation.

“We believe it is absolutely a charitable cause to want to end the suffering of billions of individuals around the world,” Ms Leigh said.

“It’s also a charitable cause to try and educate people on the climate catastrophe that animal agriculture contributes to and the suffering it’s causing humans in the process.”

The group has not ruled out battling it out in court in a bid to regain charitable status.

But Ms Leigh said the organisation will have a much easier job now it has lost its charitable status.

“Ultimately, what this will mean is, as much as it financially is a real problem, from a time perspective we will no longer be bogged down in the ACNC requirements of what they expect volunteer organisations to have to do to tick the boxes,” she said.

Losing charitable status is a huge blow for the activist group, which will no longer qualify for tax concessions.

Donors giving to the activist group will no longer be able to claim back donations as tax-deductible gifts.

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