Wednesday, 23 November 2016

What exactly is the Institute of Public Affairs Limited and why is it always in our faces?

What exactly is the Institute of Public Affairs Limited and why is it always in our faces?

Because this question comes up from time to time, here is a brief history of what is essentially an aggressive right-wing lobby group heavily influencing the Liberal Party. 

The Institute of Public Affairs Limited (IPA) is a Melbourne-based, right wing ‘free market think tank’ that was formed in 1943 by members of the business community allegedly for philanthropic purposes, however it only registered with the Australian Securities and Investment Commission on 10 June 1987. It pays no tax.

The IPA says of itself that since its inception it has been at the forefront of the political and policy debate, defining the contemporary political landscape.

It also declares that it supports the free market of ideas, the free flow of capital, a limited and efficient government, evidence-based public policy, the rule of law, and representative democracy

The Liberal Party of Australia was founded in 1944 by then United Australia Party (UAP) Leader of the Opposition Robert Gordon Menzies.

From its earliest beginnings IPA appears to have had close ties with the Liberal Party which continue to this day, with Liberal Party IPA members in the Australian Parliament. James Paterson (former IPA Deputy Executive Director) was picked to fill a Liberal Party senate vacancy and Tim Wilson (former IPA Director of Climate Change Policy and the Intellectual Property and Free Trade Unit) is the Liberal MP for Goldstein.

Other IPA members were also elected to federal parliament – Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm is in the Senate as was Family First’s Bob Day until November 2016.

Independent Australia reported on  April 2016:  

On his elevation to the senate Paterson emailed a letter to all IPA members in which he said, “I want you to know that I’m going to the Senate to fight for exactly the same things I have in my time at the IPA. I know if I ever fail to do so that IPA members will be the first to let me know where I have gone wrong!”.....

A second telling example concerns the response to the refusal in August 2014 to repeal race hate laws. As reported by Latika Burke in the Age (7/8/14) John Roskam said the IPA had “been contacted by many IPA members who are also Liberal Party members who have said they will resign their membership from the Liberal Party over this broken promise from the government,…”

It was also reported that Tony Abbott had phoned Andrew Bolt and John Roskam to inform them of the government’s decision. So Liberal party members apparently go to the IPA before protesting to their own MPs.

According to Source Watch IPA membership was originally restricted to no more than fifty-four people. However by 2009 this number had risen to 778 and now stands at 3,473 members.

For an organisation with such a relatively small membership it has an inordinately loud voice and, in its last published annual report in 2014-15 bragged that the IPA was mentioned 81 times in federal parliament, made 762 appearances in print media, 411 appearance on radio and 184 on television.

This particular annual report states that: IPA research and analysis is featured in the national media on average more than three times each day.

IPA annual revenue has been listed in the millions since at least 2008-09 and at 30 June 2015 revenue was listed as $3.4 million – with 60% coming from individuals, 20% from businesses, 18% from foundations and 2% listed as other. The organisation’s expenses at 30 June 2015 were recorded as $3 million.

A number of its donors are exceedingly generous – 64 of these unidentified donors gave between $5,000 and $49,999 each in 2014-15 with a further 15 giving $50,000+ each.

The IPA was endorsed as a Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) from 30 Mar 2006 and according to ABC News in February 2012:

In order for the IPA to become a DGR it had to apply to the Secretary of what is now the Federal Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research giving various undertakings.
Most importantly, it had to undertake to use all tax-deductible donations exclusively for scientific research, more particularly, "scientific research which is, or may prove to be, of value to Australia". In this context, the authorities have ruled that "scientific research" includes social scientific research.
The IPA also had to undertake to create a separate bank account into which all tax-deductible gifts must be deposited. The Institute's financial statements show that it keeps some of its cash in an account called "NAB Research Account". On June 30, 2010 it held $385,647.
It must also ensure that all disbursements from this research account are evaluated and approved by "a suitably qualified research committee" of at least five members, the majority of whom are appropriately qualified in the field of research that is to be undertaken or have appropriate experience in reviewing research, and who should be nominated on the basis of their "proven ability to direct a research program". As far as I can tell, the IPA has not made public the membership of its research committee.
The rules state explicitly that tax-deductible funds may not be used for "the organisation of conferences, congresses and symposia and the publication of information (other than the results of the ARI's own research work, undertaken through this program)."
All of this raises the question of whether donations to the IPA for which the donor has claimed a tax deduction are being used in compliance with the law.

The last published mention of an IPA Research Committee in 2013-14 included Professor Bob Carter, Professor Greg Craven, Dr Tim Duncan, Dr Michael Folie, Professor John Freebairn, Dr Scott Prasser and Dr Tom Quirk as committee members. So called ‘scientific’ research undertaken appears to be primarily related to its own policy platforms, including climate change denial.

Peta Credlin was allegedly an IPA staffer at one time.

Because the IPA keeps its membership list extremely private one can only speculate on its contents, however some donors, members and/or supporters have come to light over the years. These are: international media mogul Rupert Murdoch on the IPA Council from 1986 to 2000, mining billionaire Gina Rinehart, columnist Andrew Bolt, former Liberal prime minister Tony Abbott, former Liberal prime minister John HowardExxon, Shell, CaltexBHP-Billiton, Western Mining Corporation, Murray Irrigation Limited, Monsanto, Woodside Petroleum, Phillip Morris and British American Tobacco.

The IPA has been attacking the idea of public broadcasting for years:

The IPA apparently looks favourably on U.S. president-elect Donald J. Trump. Its current Adjunct Fellow Georgina Downer (daughter of former Liberal minister and present Australian Ambassador to the Court of St. James Alexander Downer) stating: Donald Trump's historic victory represents a huge opportunity for middle America. It is a rejection of liberal internationalism, political correctness and the progressive politics of urban elites in favour of traditional American values - love of country, family and, for many, faith. Like Brexit, it heralds a return to the pre-eminence of the nation state, of national sovereignty and democracy.

Known IPA policies in August 2012:

1 Repeal the carbon tax, and don't replace it. It will be one thing to remove the burden of the carbon tax from the Australian economy. But if it is just replaced by another costly scheme, most of the benefits will be undone.
2 Abolish the Department of Climate Change
3 Abolish the Clean Energy Fund
4 Repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act
5 Abandon Australia's bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council
6 Repeal the renewable energy target
7 Return income taxing powers to the states
8 Abolish the Commonwealth Grants Commission
9 Abolish the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
10 Withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol
11 Introduce fee competition to Australian universities
12 Repeal the National Curriculum
13 Introduce competing private secondary school curriculums
14 Abolish the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)
15 Eliminate laws that require radio and television broadcasters to be 'balanced'
16 Abolish television spectrum licensing and devolve spectrum management to the common law
17 End local content requirements for Australian television stations
18 Eliminate family tax benefits
19 Abandon the paid parental leave scheme
20 Means-test Medicare
21 End all corporate welfare and subsidies by closing the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education
22 Introduce voluntary voting
23 End mandatory disclosures on political donations
24 End media blackout in final days of election campaigns
25 End public funding to political parties
26 Remove anti-dumping laws
27 Eliminate media ownership restrictions
28 Abolish the Foreign Investment Review Board
29 Eliminate the National Preventative Health Agency
30 Cease subsidising the car industry
31 Formalise a one-in, one-out approach to regulatory reduction
32 Rule out federal funding for 2018 Commonwealth Games
33 Deregulate the parallel importation of books
34 End preferences for Industry Super Funds in workplace relations laws
35 Legislate a cap on government spending and tax as a percentage of GDP
36 Legislate a balanced budget amendment which strictly limits the size of budget deficits and the period the federal government can be in deficit
37 Force government agencies to put all of their spending online in a searchable database
38 Repeal plain packaging for cigarettes and rule it out for all other products, including alcohol and fast food
39 Reintroduce voluntary student unionism at universities
40 Introduce a voucher scheme for secondary schools
41 Repeal the alcopops tax
42 Introduce a special economic zone in the north of Australia including:
a) Lower personal income tax for residents
b) Significantly expanded 457 Visa programs for workers
c) Encourage the construction of dams
43 Repeal the mining tax
44 Devolve environmental approvals for major projects to the states
45 Introduce a single rate of income tax with a generous tax-free threshold
46 Cut company tax to an internationally competitive rate of 25 per cent
47 Cease funding the Australia Network
48 Privatise Australia Post
49 Privatise Medibank
50 Break up the ABC and put out to tender each individual function
51 Privatise SBS
52 Reduce the size of the public service from current levels of more than 260,000 to at least the 2001 low of 212,784
53 Repeal the Fair Work Act
54 Allow individuals and employers to negotiate directly terms of employment that suit them
55 Encourage independent contracting by overturning new regulations designed to punish contractors
56 Abolish the Baby Bonus
57 Abolish the First Home Owners' Grant
58 Allow the Northern Territory to become a state
59 Halve the size of the Coalition front bench from 32 to 16
60 Remove all remaining tariff and non-tariff barriers to international trade
61 Slash top public servant salaries to much lower international standards, like in the United States
62 End all public subsidies to sport and the arts
63 Privatise the Australian Institute of Sport
64 End all hidden protectionist measures, such as preferences for local manufacturers in government tendering
65 Abolish the Office for Film and Literature Classification
66 Rule out any government-supported or mandated internet censorship
67 Means test tertiary student loans 
68 Allow people to opt out of superannuation in exchange for promising to forgo any government income support in retirement
69 Immediately halt construction of the National Broadband Network and privatise any sections that have already been built
70 End all government funded Nanny State advertising
71 Reject proposals for compulsory food and alcohol labelling
72 Privatise the CSIRO
73 Defund Harmony Day
74 Close the Office for Youth
75 Privatise the Snowy-Hydro Scheme

A further 25 IPA ideas to shape Australia can be found here.

Founding Board 1943:

Sir G.J. Coles CBE, H.G. Darling, G.H. Grimwade, H.R. Harper, W.A. Ince, C.D. Kemp, F.E. Lampe MBE, Sir Walter Massy-Greene (former Nationalist Party senator and former Menzies UAP Government appointee to the Treasury Finance Committee), Sir L.J. McConnan KB, C.N. McKay, W.E. McPherson, Sir Keith Murdoch, Sir Ian Potter, The Hon. A.G. Warner (later Minister in Victorian Liberal-Country Party Government).

Current IPA Board:

John Roskam, Executive Director, member of the Liberal Party of Australia, former Manager of Government and Corporate Affairs for Rio Tinto Group
Rod Kemp, Chairman, former Liberal Party senator and son of IPA co-founder
Janet Albrechtsen, Director, News Corp journalist
Harold Clough, Director, Liberal party donor
Tim Duncan, Director, former Liberal party media adviser, former Head of Australian External Affairs at Rio Tinto
Michael Folie, Director, former Shell Australia director and former Deputy Chairman of InterOil Corporation
Michael Hickinbotham, Director, South Australian property developer and Liberal Party supporter/donor
Geoff Hone, Director, lawyer specialising in company law
Rod Menzies, Director, multi-millionaire, Executive Chairman Menzies International (Aust) Pty Ltd 
William Morgan, Director,
Maurice O'Shannassy, Director, Managing Director and Co-Chief Investment Officer at BlackRock Investment Management (Australia) Limited, Chairman MWH Capital Pty Ltd

Current staff:

Darcy Allen, Research Fellow
Richard Allsop, Senior Fellow
Morgan Begg, Researcher and Editor, FreedomWatch
Chris Berg, Senior Fellow
Simon Breheny, Director of Policy
Sinclair Davidson, Senior Research Fellow
Stephanie Forrest, Research Scholar, Foundations of Western Civilisation Program
Father James Grant, Adjunct Fellow
Peter Gregory, Research Fellow
Brett Hogan, Director of Research
John Hyde, Emeritus Fellow
Scott Hargreaves, Senior Fellow
Aaron Lane, Legal Fellow
Jennifer Marohasy, Senior Fellow
Mikayla Novak, Adjunct Fellow
Jason Potts, Adjunct Fellow
Tom Switzer, Adjunct Fellow
James Bolt, Digital Communications Manager
Rachel Guy, Development Coordinator
Nina Lohanatha, Administrative Assistant
Andrew Poon, Director, Finance and Administration
Anniessa Putri, Finance Assistant
Sarah Wilson, Membership and Special Events Coordinator
Matthew Lesh, Research Fellow, Future of Freedom Program
Andrew Bushnell
Bella d'Abrera, Director, Future of Freedom
Daniel Wild
Evan Mulholland, Media and Communications Manager
Georgina Downer, Adjunct Fellow
Michael Husek

Staff in 2013-14:

Dr John Abbot—Senior Fellow, Darcy Allen—Research Fellow, Dr Richard Allsop—Senior Fellow, Morgan Begg—Editor, FreedomWatch, Chris Berg—Senior Fellow, James Bolt—Communications Coordinator, Simon Breheny—Director, Legal Rights Project, Professor Bob Carter—Emeritus Fellow, Professor Sinclair Davidson—Senior Fellow, Stephanie Forrest—Research Scholar, Father James Grant—Adjunct Fellow, Peter Gregory—Research Fellow, Rachel Guy—Development Manager, Brett Hogan—Director, Energy and Innovation Policy, John Hyde—Emeritus Fellow, Nick Jarman—Development Associate, Aline Le Guen—Editor, IPA Review, Nina Lohanatha—Administrative Assistant, Dr Jennifer Marohasy—Senior Fellow, Dr Mikayla Novak—Senior Fellow, Hannah Pandel—Research Fellow, James Paterson—Deputy Executive Director, Rob Phayer—Internal Systems Manager, Andy Poon—Director, Finance and Administration, Professor Jason Potts—Adjunct Fellow, Martin Proctor—Campus Coordinator, Anniessa Putri—Finance Assistant, Tom Switzer—Adjunct Fellow, Henry Travers—Multimedia Coordinator, Sasha Uher—Campus Coordinator, Sarah Wilson—Membership Coordinator.

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