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IPA agenda to re-shape Australia

March 2, 2013

By Barry Tucker                    2 March, 2013

The Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) claims to be an independent think tank. It is funded by corporate and philanthropic donations (see update, 25 August, at end) and individual subscriptions. It is one of the bodies that came together in 1945 to form the Liberal Party of Australia and is rightly seen as an arm of the Liberal party.

The IPA is disproportionately represented on the ABC’s tv shows The Drum and Q&A, although the ABC denies it and quibbles about who’s who. You may never have heard of the IPA. Before we go into the remainder of this article, here’s an episode of the ABC’s Littlemore, dated 09/04/2001, presented by Stuart Littlemore (it temporarily replaced Media Watch) [edited, 23/11/2016]. It mentions what the IPA is, who some of its members are, its activities and where its main financing comes from.

http://t.co/oXmnGBMjMR

The political agenda of the IPA is no different than the agenda of the Liberal party. In a recent article on the IPA website, Be like Gough: 75 radical ideas to transform Australia, three IPA members wrote about what they see as Australia’s problems and listed 75 changes that should be implemented. See this page from the IPA website for the preamble to the 75-point list.

The list has since been expanded to 100 items. Why the round figure of 100? I can agree with some of the points, like smaller government and ending vote-buying welfare. For the remainder, it is basically a plan to remove restrictions on business and industry to pillage and plunder resources, the environment and consumers.

When the IPA talks about individual freedom it is referring to the freedom of individual capitalists and materialists to pursue their dreams at the expense of everyone else. You will notice how the IPA plans for the NBN, the ABC and SBS play into the hands of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, whose father Keith (later Sir Keith) helped launch the IPA in 1943. Murdoch, his publications, his supporters, the IPA and the widely broadcast Andrew Bolt all oppose the taxpayer funded ABC.

Half-way through the 2013 election campaign, Opposition treasury spokesman Joe Hockey stated unequivocally on Lateline (23 August) that the ABC will not be privatised but any “waste” in the organisation will be cut. One of Hockey’s “waste” items was the ABC managed Australia Network, which transmits into South-East Asia. Murdoch initially won the contract but had it taken off him by a Labor government.

It will be interesting to see how many of the 75 points are implemented if the Liberal party wins the federal election in September this year. In an article in Crikey.com on the eve of the September 2013 election Andrew Crook went through the 75-item list and speculated on the fate of each one.

You can read the authors’ preamble to the IPA list and learn more about the IPA on its website. Here’s the closing statement from the preamble: “If he wins government, Abbott faces a clear choice. He could simply overturn one or two symbolic Gillard-era policies like the carbon tax, and govern moderately. He would not offend any interest groups. In doing so, he’d probably secure a couple of terms in office for himself and the Liberal party. But would this be a successful government? We don’t believe so. The remorseless drift to bigger government and less freedom would not halt, and it would resume with vigour when the Coalition eventually loses office. We hope he grasps the opportunity to fundamentally reshape the political culture and stem the assault on individual liberty.” [My emphasis.]

Parliamentary Liberal Party leader Tony Abbott told the IPA’s 70th anniversary dinner in April 2013 that the 10 items below in red have been agreed to and will be implemented.

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

The above list was published in August 2012. More recently, the same three IPA authors added the following 25 items to the list:

Following on from our 75 ideas in the last edition, John Roskam, James Paterson and Chris Berg offer 25 more ideas to reshape Australia.

76 Have State Premiers appoint High Court justices

77 Allow ministers to be appointed from outside parliament

78 Extend the GST to cover all goods and services but return all extra revenue to taxpayers through cutting other taxes

79 Abolish the federal department of health and return health policy to the states

80 Abolish the federal department of education and return education policy to the states

81 Repeal any new mandatory data retention laws

82 Abolish the Australian Human Rights Commission

83 Have trade unions regulated like public companies, with ASIC responsible for their oversight

84 End all public funding to unions and employer associations

85 Repeal laws which protect unions from competition, such as the ‘conveniently belong’ rules in the Fair Work Act

86 Extend unrestricted work visas currently granted to New Zealand citizens to citizens of the United States

87 Negotiate and sign free trade agreements with Australia’s largest trading partners, including China, India, Japan and South Korea

88 Restore fundamental legal rights to all existing commonwealth legislation such as the right to silence and the presumption of innocence

89 Adhere to section 51(xxxi) of the Constitution by not taking or diminishing anyone’s property without proper compensation

90 Repeal legislative restrictions on the use of nuclear power

91 Allow full competition on all foreign air routes

92 Abolish the Medicare levy surcharge

93 Abolish the luxury car tax

94 Halve the number of days parliament sits to reduce the amount of legislation passed

95 Abolish Tourism Australia and cease subsidising the tourism industry

96 Make all government payments to external parties publicly available including the terms and conditions of those payments

97 Abandon plans to restrict foreign investment in Australia’s agricultural industry

98 Cease the practice of setting up government-funded lobby groups, such as YouMeUnity, which uses taxpayer funds to campaign to change the Australian Constitution

99 Rule out the introduction of mandatory pre-commitment for electronic gaming machines

100 Abolish the four pillars policy which prevents Australia’s major banks from merging

==============

The IPA held its 70th anniversary dinner in Melbourne on Thursday, 4 April, 2013. The guests included Rupert Murdoch, the Leader of the federal Liberal National Parliamentary Party, Tony Abbott, members of the LNP front bench, the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, and mining magnate and media investor Gina Rinehart. The MC was Andrew Bolt.

In his address to the dinner, Abbott referred to several of the original 75 points that will be implemented if the Liberal party wins government. Some have been implemented by the LNP State Government of Queensland. You can read the full text of Abbott’s address on the Independent Australia website or watch it on YouTube:

Rupert Murdoch’s IPA address

Anniversary dinner MC Andrew Bolt’s IPA address

The dinner guests were also addressed by mining billionaire and news media shareholder Gina Rinehart.

========

FOOTNOTE: In an article on the ABC’s The Drum Opinion titled “A sneak preview of the savage cuts to come” Jim Chalmers, executive director of the Chifley Research Centre, detailed who and what would be hit by IPA recommendations to save $23.5 billion. Mr Chalmers referred to this article in The Weekend Australian, which listed Budget cuts, some of which the IPA has discussed with Liberal politicians and will recommend to an incoming Liberal government. Some have been implemented in Queensland by the Newman LiberalNP government.

The Weekend Australian article by Adam Creighton was based on this paper by IPA’s director of deregulation,  Alan Moran. The story quoted Mr Moran as saying: “We’ve highlighted areas for cutting that should be ‘no-brainers’, ones that demonstrably detract from social value by distorting the economy, duplicating state functions and diverting resources from more productive sectors.”

The Catallaxy Files (“Australia’s leading libertarian and centre-right blog”) linked to Mr Moran’s paper (a non-copyable .pdf that you can download) and published 24 responses below it.

In his article on The Drum Opinion, Mr Chalmers wrote: “These [cuts] include cancelling the first stage of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, abolishing Fair Work and Safe Work Australia, almost halving the general research budget, cancelling all Commonwealth housing programs, eliminating foreign aid and the Human Rights Commission, slashing 23,500 public service jobs, abolishing agriculture, forestry and fisheries programs and privatising the ABC and SBS.

“No wonder shadow finance minister Andrew Robb keeps telling us the Coalition have all their policies ready to go yet they’re not outlining them until much closer to an election. The IPA’s cuts will stay in the top drawer until five minutes to midnight. But we now know they’re there.

“We also know from experience under [Premier] Campbell Newman, in my home state of Queensland, that the well-thumbed Liberal party playbook is to promise the world before an election then hack into jobs and services after the election, ideally under the cover of some kind of commission of audit headed by another former Coalition politician.”

Mr Chalmers is a former chief of staff to the Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer, Wayne Swan.

The IPA’s agenda has also been referred to on the DESMOGBLOG website, devoted to “Clearing the PR Pollution that Clouds Climate Science.” This is the link to that article: http://is.gd/pyxIeV 

========

In an article in The Drum Opinion on February 24, 2012, Professor Clive Hamilton reported on The shadowy world of IPA finances. Prof Hamilton is an Australian author and intellectual. In June 2008 he was appointed Professor of Public Ethics at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, a joint centre of the Australian National University, Charles Sturt University and the University of Melbourne. For 14 years, until February 2008, he was the executive director of The Australia Institute, a progressive think tank he founded.

What did Mr Abbott say at the IPA dinner? Read the text of his address on the IndependentAustralia website, or watch it on YouTube.

Update, 25 August, 2013

Fairfax’s Melbourne newspaper The Age today published a lengthy story claiming some of the world’s largest companies have dropped financial support and membership of the IPA. The story said the changed attitude towards the IPA was due to “concern at its vociferous campaign against action on climate change”.

Also on 25 August, 2013, Fairfax newspapers published a detailed article on the IPA’s development over the decades and its present position. The story is not behind a pay wall.

On 6 September, 2013, Crikey’s Andrew Crooke posted the results of a survey of the items on the IPA’s list that had been agreed to.

Update, 30 May, 2014

Glenn Murray has produced a blog on the IPA that is similar to Andrew Crooke’s story, by showing (with links) which of the IPA’s 100 items have been endorsed or enacted by the Liberal coalition government since the 2013 federal election.

John Menadue, a Fellow of the Centre for Policy Development, wrote about the role of think tanks and the corruption of the public debate on 21 May, 2014. He focused mainly on the IPA. You will find more information about the IPA on Independent Australia.

Follow me on Twitter @btckr (if you want to).

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47 Comments
  1. Joy Cooper permalink

    Good grief!!! The IPA don’t want much do they? Were they on mind-altering drugs when this wish list was drawn up?

    One thing, for certain, the Noalition will not do & that is reduce the number of snouts in the trough by halving their bloated front bench.

    The IPA should be defunded immediately & all sources of funding made public.

  2. Fed up permalink

    Joy, we hear their views every day on ABC 24.

  3. Heather permalink

    Before I retired, I worked for the CSIRO. Scientists there work tirelessly for the benefit of Australia and Australians (as well as the rest of the world), and must maintain independence. Never, Never privatise the CSIRO.

  4. Still dirty about IPA being on ABC all the time, they are always introduced as ‘fellows’ so the average punter (myself included initially) assume they are University academics of some sort, instead you find out they are just corporate mouthpieces, is disgusting!

    • Doctorwom Bhatt permalink

      None of the media outlets explain who the various think tanks are and who/what funds them. By default they are introduced as above board, “respectable” and reliable sources of information. ABC is and always has been MSM. Not once have they ever dealt with integrity issues surrounding the basis of all matters lawful in this country, the Australian Constitution Act 1901 (UK). http://basic-fraud.com/?page_id=56

  5. Nicola Castleman permalink

    This ‘reshaping’ of Australia is fascinating. I never visited South Africa under apartheid. Maybe the IPA should’ve. Did I forget one on asylum seekers or did they miss that? I confess I may have ‘shut that whole thing down’.

  6. Reblogged this on lmrh5.

  7. Caroley permalink

    OMG that is scary stuff. It’s a total joke right? Yikes!!!

  8. Reblogged this on Anti-prepper and commented:
    I’ve added comments to this by way of a late-night rant.

  9. g2-5bba245eb6db01d36e28de6648a6336a permalink

    15 Eliminate laws that require radio and television broadcasters to be ‘balanced’.

    After years of complaining about a perceived Labor bias in the ABC they want to remove safeguards and sell the ABC off to their mates.

  10. Michelle permalink

    15 Eliminate laws that require radio and television broadcasters to be ‘balanced’

    Wow, I didnt know such laws existed! It’s something I am screaming out for – balanced reporting!!

    • Michelle, If you trawl through my other site (Truth in News Media http://t.co/wgd6y2I5jw), you will find journos Code of Ethics (which requires balance and objectivity) and in the ABC menu many references to balance, fairness, objectivity and impartiality.

      The ABC’s Act and Charter requires the board to ensure impartiality. The ABC’s Code of Practice and Editorial Guidelines require balance and impartiality. However, the ABC interprets its responsibility to mean that it should provide balance over a period, not necessarily immediately. This interpretation allows bias to go unchecked.

      I don’t listen to commercial radio or watch commercial TV, so I can’t comment on their balance.

      The menu item Regulatory Bodies on Truth in News Media will lead you through the various organisations that regulate commercial and non-commercial news media.

  11. The IPA agenda is truly one of the most frightening things I have ever read. – RD

  12. Carlos permalink

    Have I missed a month somewhere? Is this April 1st?
    To implement all those would instantly throw the working class a mile behind India, Bangladesh and so forth. Small band of happy leaders and 20 million serfs.

    • Doctorwom Bhatt permalink

      And the fact that the IPA is quite content to publish such an agenda is testimony that they have total confidence that it will be implemented because they think the citizens will not respond enough to stop it. Based on the level of interest of people that I deal with they are most probably right. Is it the Fluoride ? 🙂

  13. Melinda permalink

    This is a joke, right?

  14. Aleks permalink

    With such a long list of savings, it’s quite a surprise that they missed “76 Reduce politicians’ salaries to a rate comparable to, for example, the UK”

  15. Jim Craney permalink

    Is a return to feudalism? Will Tony Abbott demand the rights-of kings (first fruits, etc)? How about we just get rid of this democracy rubbish and let our betters (Liberals-born to rule) rule in perpetuity?

    • Matt permalink

      Why just Liberals-born to rule – I have seen a many Labor-born to rule lately which is just as scare if not more so than the majority of what is in this list. The Internet censorship and a new Public Advertising person to oversee all media outlets with paid subscriptions of ober 50k. How is anything that the current Labor government putting out any better than the above list from the IPA?

      • Matt: There are many errors in your comment, but I have allowed it because I don’t want to be accused of bias or censorship.

        If you seriously think the IPA is right in wanting to abolish the ACCC, stop the NBN, break up the ABC, sell SBS, allow broadcasters to produce unbalanced news, remove restrictions on alcohol and cigarettes — for starters — then, quite frankly, you must believe in anarchy.

        If you can, tell me what the Labor government is doing that is worse.

  16. Bill Buchanan permalink

    They are about as independent as the Labor Party who received about $10m for the last campaign from unions. They probably get more of their money from low net worth individuals than Labor. Labor has just made higher pay for aged care workers dependent on union involvement. The unions are certainly getting their money’s worth.

    • The Labor party was created by the union movement but in the present era is too closely tied to it, in my opinion. As my story says, the IPA is one of the originators of the Liberal party.

      Today’s key IPA executives have Liberal connections (see profiles on website). My story also states that the IPA is funded by corporate and philanthropic donations, memberships and subscriptions. Because of the nature of the IPA it is doubtful that “low net worth individuals” would have any interest in its philosophy or activities. The IPA serves the interests of big business.

      I will research your remark about “higher pay for aged care workers dependent on union involvement”. I think this might be an attempt to counter the rorting and exploitation of patients and staff by private companies that has been complained of recently. Progressive governments are always trying to curb the excesses of the business class, while the business class is always seeking to remove rules and restrictions.

  17. Anne-Maree Crowe permalink

    So what drugs are these idiots on. It is the most unfair, unrealistic kybosh I have ever read!

  18. russell permalink

    You got me thinking about think tanks Mr Tucker and this site was a revelation.
    Thanks for your write up.

    There are some gems in amongst this lot. Many could apply to the IPA imo. Eg:

    Think tanks call themselves ‘Public Policy Research Institutions’, yet their main funders are multinational corporations.
    OR
    Think tanks organize and filter information in order to insure that public policy represents corporations not citizens.

    Read more at https://twitter.com/AntiThinkTanks

  19. Joy Cooper permalink

    Wondered who were the financial backers of IPA so went Googling. Here is a Wiki article on IPA & it’s not flattering. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Institute_of_Public_Affairs

    Never realised that the Liberal Party was formed by the IPA & that they have a climate change sceptic “environmental” subsidiary the Australian Environment Foundation.

    This is a “think tank”.which is a danger to most people in this country.

  20. Jill permalink

    I’d agree with a few of these but by no means all. Also where is the removal of welfare in the form of Parliamentary pensions??

  21. And yet many of you guys support a Govt-controlled media advocate to decide what journalists can publish. Shame.

    • How can an independent advocate be Govt-controlled? Are the members of the ABC board Govt controlled, or the members of the ACMA, or the Press Council? If the government changed hands, would the independent advocate be Govt controlled?

      The job of the proposed independent advocate (the legislation has been withdrawn) was to approve the Code of standards that the newspaper industry would design — not to decide what journalists can write. It’s a matter of being held accountable to their own standards; it’s not censorship. The same situation already applies with Codes of Practice that are submitted to ACMA by the ABC.

  22. Thank you Barry for such a comprehensive article with links included!

  23. Doctorwom Bhatt permalink

    Thank you for your effort Barry Tucker. Much appreciated.

  24. Can we get an update on this list? I think point 4 has not been repealed. But I think that point 11 regarding introducing fee competition to universities is gaining a foothold, at least?

    • Thank you for your interest Savvas. For various technical reasons I can’t maintain an update of the fate of the 100 items.
      However, if you go to the May 30 update near the bottom of the story you will find a link to Glen Murray’s blog on the subject. He is tracking the fate of the 100 items and provides links to stories about them.
      See also the blog Tracking Abbott’s Wreckage, being maintained by Sally McManus. This lists, in date order, all the lies and broken promises and includes those items in the 100-pt list that have been resolved.

  25. If this list was put up outside every polling booth and people were told the IPA controls the Liberal party who would vote for the coalition? The IPA are psychopaths.

  26. The only positive thing to say about the “Coots-With-Queer-Ideas-From-a-Parallel-Universe” is that not only are they wrecking the country but also permanently making the Liarbril party the shambles it is..

    • It turns out (recently) that the WA Treasurer, a Yank or former Yank, is a former IPA office bearer and fairly long-term member.

  27. savvastzionis permalink

    Have things changed now that Malware ‘Turncoat’ has taken over?

  28. Really informative article Barry, shared to google plus

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. IPA agenda to re-shape Australia | lmrh5
  2. Just who the hell are the IPA? « THE PUB
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  4. IPA agenda to re-shape Australia | lmrh5
  5. OK, so, if you care about the safe future of Australia, please don’t hesitate to READ this Article about The Institute of Public Affairs. This Far Right Wing Think Tank has far more influence on the Coalition, than any union on the Labor Party. This
  6. Institute of Public Affairs RESOURCE INFORMATION / LINKS – elliemail
  7. Ipa list of 100 …. A WORK IN PROGRESS – elliemail

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