Tag Archives: New Zealand Health Trust

Flogging a dead horse – anti-fluoridationists lose in court again

flooging-horse-certificate

This certificate should be awarded to New Health NZ, the NZ Health Trust and the anti-fluoridation movement for not knowing when to give up on the “fluoridation is medicine” myth.

The NZ Court of Appeal has rejected the latest legal attempt by New Zealand anti-fluoridation campaigners to hinder community water fluoridation. You can read a summary of the ruling in the Court’s press release – New Health v South Taranaki District Council. The full Court of Appeal ruling can also be downloaded.

Of course, you might find it boring – it is full of legalese. The appeals (there were three and all were rejected) themselves were  about details – the definition of a medicine and the right of governments to make regulations. But readers might want to reflect on who took the legal action and who paid for it.

follow-the-money

New Health NZ took the High Court actions and appeals. It is an incorporated society set up in 2005 by the The New Zealand Health Trust. This Trust is the lobby group for the “natural”/alternative health industry in New Zealand and is financed by that industry. So, in effect, this legal action was taken by the alternative health industry – and paid for by this industry – which is big business.

We can get some idea of the costs involved from the financial statements of the NZ Health Trust (strangely registered as a charity) and New Health NZ (statements available on the society’s register). Unfortunately, the latest statements only provide information for the 2014 and 2015 financial years – but the legal action is several years old so you can get an idea of the money flows involved.

The NZ health Trust appears to receive grants in the hundreds of thousands per year from the alternative health industry($250,000 in 2014 and $190,000 in 2015). In its turn, it distributed “grants & donations” in the hundreds of thousands (125,000 in 2014 and $130,000 in 2015).

nz-health-trust

New Health NZ received grants of around $100,000 per year ($100,00 in 2014 and $95,000 in 2015). It paid out similar amounts in “Professional and Consultancy Fees” ($95,156 in 2014 and $95,124 in 2015).

new-health-nz

These amounts are of the order required for the legal actions taken by this group.

So here we see a money flow from the “natural”/alternative health industry, through the New Zealand Health Trust to New Health NZ to pay for legal attempts to halt community water fluoridation.

At least, this time, New Health NZ was ordered to pay costs – a sure sign that the court believes their legal actions no longer have any community value.

A sign that they should stop promoting their myth that community water fluoridation is a medicine – they should stop flogging that dead horse.

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Who is funding anti-fluoridation High Court action?

I strongly suspect a number of organisations listed in the register of New Zealand charities just shouldn’t be there.  The Department of Internal Affairs provides facilities to search the charities register – it is worth doing if you have your suspicions.

Why is this important? Well, registration as a charity provides tax-free status to an organisation. In effect this means all taxpayers are subsidising their activities. While most of us are probably happy to subsidise genuine charities it goes against the grain when they are not genuine.

Here I will look at just one suspicious organisation – the New Zealand Health Trust.

The New Zealand Health Trust

This trust is in the news lately because last November it took a High Court case against  the South Taranaki District Council aiming for a judicial review over a decision to fluoridate water supplies in Patea and Waverley (see Chch group tests fluoridation push and Taranaki fluoride ruling ends up in court). [See Update below.] Such legal action is not cheap yet the New Zealand Health Trust is a registered charity so tax exempt. We are affectively subsidising the legal action – like it or not.

Fortunately, registration means that some information about the organisation and its finances must be provided and documents are available on the register. The New Zealand Health Trust registration details claim its purpose is education, training and research. It provides advice, information and advocacy with the main beneficiaries being the “general public.”

The trust deed (available on the register – rules.pdf) gives more detail – but still expressed in a very general way (I guess organisations like this want to keep their options open). Besides talk of promoting education and well-being, research, relief of poverty and the promotion of “other charitable objectives” the document declares some more relevant goals:

“5(e): encourage and provide opportunities for persons and corporate bodies within New Zealand to take an active interest in complementary health care products, devices, practices and services and general health research for prevention, diagnosis and treatment;”

And

“5(j): lobby decision making bodies on issues affecting the charitable purposes with a view to furthering the charitable purposes, and use such media campaigns and promotions as may assist;”

If you want to put 2 + 2 together, have a look at their web page. It soon becomes obvious the trust is a political lobbying organisation working to promote the interests of the industry selling “natural health products” and “health care products, devices, practices and services within New Zealand.”

So, New Zealand taxpayers are subsiding an industry lobby group, with commercial interests and aims. Inclusion of words like “health,” “natural” and “alternative” does not make it any different to any industry lobby group with commercial interests.

Have another look at the website and you will see this group has political as well as commercial aims. As well as working hard on fighting parliamentary consideration of  treating  natural health products as drugs (the ANZTPA Debate) it is also active in the following issues:

Yes – as taxpayers we are subsidising political activity on chemtrials, way-out medical procedures and a lot else. We are subsiding opposition to vaccines, genetic modification and aspartine.

We are also subsidising their expensive legal action to fight fluoridation.

Some finances

Registration as a charity requires annual financial returns and these are available on the register – from 2008 – 2013 for the New Zealand Health Trust. I  don’t have the financial literacy to understand these returns completely but details of their main sources of income and main expenses for each year are interesting. Here is a page from their 2013 return.

NZHT

Their main income was not from donations (sort of expect that with a charity) but from undefined “grants.” And their main expense was not the education, research or relief of poverty talked about in their deed document but “consultancy and legal expenses.” Nowhere in any of the returns could I see any expenses related to research, education or relief of poverty.

The plot below shows a lot of variability year to year in the size of the “grants” received and in their “consultancy and legal expenses” – completely consistent with their main purpose of lobbying on specific political issues and, for 2013 (and presumably 2014) the High Court case in South Taranaki.

NZHT-2

Where’s the money coming from

Unfortunately the financial returns don’t show that detail but the round numbers of 2011 and 2013 suggest single sources – and wealthy ones. (There was also a grant in 2010 of $534,521 which appeared to largely wipe out loans from a single person, P. D. Sloan, in earlier years.) Call me cynical but these “grants” look very much like payments from corporate companies for supporting their own commercial interests.

The Charities Register lists the sole officer of the trust as “New Zealand Health Limited” and the  Charitable Deed Trust lists the parties as:

“1. PATRICK DAVID SLOAN of Christchurch, Company Director (“the Settlor”)
2. NEW ZEALAND HEALTH LIMITED, a duly incorporated company having its Registered Office at Christchurch (“the Trustee”).”

Patrick David Sloan is listed as a director of several companies, including My Health Limited and NZ Essential Limited. A brief internet search showed Mr Sloan is director of a number of natural or alternative health companies. He has also been active in the anti-fluoridation movement – making a submission (all the way from Christchurch) to the Hamilton City Council fluoridation hearings (see Submission No: 1650 – Hamilton City Council).

My conclusion is that the trust is being financed by levys or contributions from the industry as a whole or individual companies in the alternative health industry. From the complex web of links between the directors and companies that I looked at briefly it could be that grants are made from just one or a few larger companies in behalf of the industry.

Incidentally, my interaction with anti-fluoridation activists and spokespersons also suggests a high proportion of people who work in this industry. Especially alternative health practitioners.

The NZ charities register

In recent years the Charities Commission and the Department of Internal Affairs have taken steps to clean up the register. A number of “charities” have been removed because they do not satisfy the criteria. I suggest that the New Zealand Health Trust should also be considered for removal.

I am sure that this Trust is not the only organisation getting tax exemption unfairly. Any organisation doing this should be exposed. This is not a judgment on an organisations aims – just that they should not have their work subsidised by the taxpayer if their aims are not genuinely charitable.

Perhaps more seriously, the presence of such commercial and political organisations on the New Zealand Charities Register brings the area of charities into disrepute.


Update: These articles refer to  “New Health New Zealand” as taking the legal action. To clarify – New Health New Zealand was created by the New Zealand Health Trust. See their note:

“New Health NZ Incorporated has been formed by the NZ Health Trust because our supporters can’t become members of a Trust.  New Health allows you to join up and show your support for the work of the NZ Health Trust in a way that costs you nothing, and imposes no obligation on you.

New Health acts alongside the NZ Health Trust as the voice for all NZ Consumers and the more members it has the more influence it will have.”

You can find details of this body on the Register of Incorporated Societies at the Companies Office. Their recent financial returns show no income and a net debt – they will obviously not be financing any legal action.

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