This has been an incredibly eventful couple of weeks for the Australian Anti-Vaccination Skeptics-for-a-given-value-of-Skeptics Network. You can read a recent summary of events over at Dr Rachie's place.
The most delicious part of the whole name-changin', investigation-respondin', special-pleadin' shemozzle was an article in Australian Doctor which reported the AVN's surrender of their charity licence (administered by the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing or OLGR).
Most sensible people look at an organisation which has recently had its finances called into question, is currently under investigation by the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission (PDF) and has recently surrendered the ownership of its Facebook page to an unnamed party, and conclude that they are trying to cover their tracks, distance themselves from their previous name and deeds, and gloss over the many extravagant and ill-defined "expenses" in their financial reports. No charity licence means less publicily transparent financial reporting requirements.
But the AVN's version of events is, unsurprisingly, different. And totally not their fault. According to the Australian Doctor article, the organisation's permanently defensive president, Greg Beattie claimed:
"The group had wanted to get rid of its charity licence for years, having spent countless hours and resources "jumping through hoops" to comply with the NSW Charitable Fundraising Act."We no longer see ourselves as a charitable organisation," Mr Beattie said. "We just don't fit into that mould.""
Oh, mercy. Also:
"Mr Beattie said the only reason the AVN ever had charity status in the first place was that their "vague" goals had unwittingly drawn the attention of the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing."Our objectives were so broad. They talked about educating the public and the betterment of humankind and all sort of grand ideals that [meant] we inadvertently fit the definition of a charitable organisation," Mr Beattie said."
So you see, it was all accidental. They didn't want to be in a position where they could fleece their hoodwinked followers out of wads of cash merely for the asking. It's all a big mistake - one they're thrilled to put behind them.
This one's for you, Greggy. To show you I understand.
When we started, the things that we wanted to do
Were benevolent, pure of heart, lofty and true.
But soon we got lazy,
Our goals became hazy
And then, oopsy-daisy! Donations came through!
Donations were small and donations were big;
We took them for stuff and for thingummyjig,
For freedom and rights
And for fighting good fights
From the dizzying heights of this President’s gig.
The money rolled in and it made our purse swell;
But we suffered in this inconceivable hell,
Because people inspecting
Our books were expecting
Not only collecting, but giving as well!
But our power to help those in need would depend
Not on what we could give, but on what we could spend
On new iMacs and flying
And unbridled buying
And little-white-lying when budgets were penned.
But now it’s all over, and we can relax,
We no longer have OLGR on our backs.
All those strict regulations
Corrupt calculations and profits and tax!
We can get on with doing the things that we ought,
Like displaying our gift for irrational thought,
Celebrating the pox,
Making ill-knitted socks
And inhabiting docks in a criminal court.