Centre for Right-wing Apologist Politics (CRAP)

IPA LogoInspired by Shane Maloney’s Brunswick Institute –‘one of Australia’s leading independent sources of opinion’, ‘conveniently located in the shed in the back yard of Shane Maloney’s residence,’ and funded by his wife – I’ve often wondered if I should start my own institute. Perhaps a Centre for Right-wing Apologist Politics that analyses Liberal policy. Then maybe I’d get invited to contribute to the ABC’s Drum as often as Kevin Donnelly, Director of the one-man Educational Standards Institute.  That’s 52 times between 16 Dec 2009 and 28 June 2013. My favourites amongst his posts are 4 July 2012: Don’t let class envy wreck school choice and 21 December 2011: Tertiary institutions discriminating against the middle class. But make no mistake: Kevin is still sure that the ‘Cultural-left is dominant in areas like the ABC, the Fairfax Press, most of our universities and amongst our so-called public intellectuals.’ ‘Listen to the news, read the papers or follow public debates and it soon becomes obvious that the consensus on most issues champions a Cultural-left perspective.’ Really? Does he live in a parallel universe, or just not subscribe to the Murdoch press? I wonder who funds his Institute.

A closer look at Donnelly’s views suggest that he isn’t really interested in education as such. Sure, he wants more religion in the syllabus, and quite likely agrees with Christopher Pyne that kids should know more about Gallipoli (which version, I wonder?). But what he’s really interested in is making education a market commodity. It’s about the parents, not the children. Here’s his view of what education policy is all about: ‘Whether introducing vouchers (or tax credits) to enable more parents to choose Catholic and independent schools, establishing community schools free from government control (known as charter schools in the U.S.) or allowing schools to develop an alternative to a state mandated curriculum, there is an alternative [to free public education].’ ‘Let the market work.’  No surprises that he’s a member of the IPA, whose wish-list for the Abbott government includes ’12: Repeal the National Curriculum’ and ’13: Introduce competing private secondary school curriculums’. Of course he’s going to tell the Abbott government what they want to hear.

Frightening as this is, my point isn’t just about Dr Donnelly. It’s about where the Abbott government gets all its so-called expert advice. Clearly not from experts. Having an evidence-based expert view on something is apparently a disqualification for giving advice to the Abbott government.

Their first-line resource is the Murdoch press. In the Quadrant article (where else?) announcing the formation of his Institute, Donnelly can only find The Australian and commentators like Andrew Bolt to stand as spokespersons for a conservative perspective. Journalists writing for the Murdoch press – including Bolt – are at best commentators, with little more claim to expertise than I have. Their role is to fuel the culture wars. Andrew Bolt’s conviction under section18C of the Racial Discrimination Act is surely the reason why Attorney General Brandis wants to repeal it. There’s probably a number of pet culture war projects of commentators like Bolt that the Abbott government will obligingly undertake. These are the frontline skirmishes in the culture wars.

Other straws in the wind include the appointment of Business Council of Australia president Tony Shephard to head the National Commission of Audit. He’s a business lobbyist – nothing impartial about him. Then on a rather different note, Abbott would rather take the advice of celebrity overseas-adoption advocate Deborra-Lee Furness, than that of the National Intercountry Adoption Advisory Group which he abolished only weeks before.

But the main source of LNP advice looks like being the rash of conservative think tanks that have appeared over the last few years. The main one appears to be the IPA (actually much older, founded in the 1940s), whose funding is at best opaque, but believed to include mining and tobacco interests. A number of key points of their agenda have already been accepted by Abbott. Those working or writing for the IPA, such as Donnelly himself, Chris Berg, Tim Wilson or Bob Carter may or may not have some expertise in their areas – one might question what Tim Wilson knows about climate change – yes, before the new job on the Human Rights Commission he was director of climate change policy for the IPA – or what Bob Carter, Science policy advisor knows about it either. The point is that they are openly partisan. The Menzies Research Centre – the name does give it away – is another local conservative operation, whose executive director Dr Don Markwell, has been appointed Senior Adviser on Higher Education to Christopher Pyne. The Menzies Research Centre is run by a board of business men (well there’s one woman out of seven members) and ex Liberal politicians, and is openly supported by big business like AMP and Deloitte. No prizes for guessing their agenda.

Then there’s network of interlinked climate change denial organisations, including the IPA, the Global Warming Policy Foundation, the Australian Environment Foundation, the Australian Climate Science Coalition, the Lavoisier Group and various other overseas groups like the Heritage Institute and the Heartland Institute. They are the fronts for propagating opinions of deniers like Ian Plimer, whose views are apparently shared by Tony Abbott. Though he hasn’t actually read Plimer’s book, Abbott says that he ‘is a highly credible scientist and he has written what seems like a very well-argued book refuting most of the claims of the climate catastrophists.’ This is partisan advocacy gone mad. But having disbanded the Australian Climate Commission, disparaged the CSIRO and the public service, who else is there to ask?

It seems to me that what we are seeing is a nasty mixture of anti-intellectualism, cronyism and pig ignorance, where ideology trumps any rational assessment of the facts. Of course I agree that all intellectual positions are based on values. And that governments seek the advice they want to hear. But this egregious reliance on those who are blatantly partisan and lacking in expertise is a recipe for disastrous policy outcomes. These are not the failings of a government taking time to find its way; they are the habits of mind of right-wing ideologues, whose decision making is only likely to get worse. My Centre for Right-wing Apologist Politics is looking good.

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Categories: Politics

43 replies

  1. I have some software that completely strips out logical fallacies, innuendo, untruths, insinuation, ambiguity, inference, intimation, allusion, implication, and pure unadulterated bullshit from any article. I ran this one through it and there was nothing remaining! Not even an “and”, “to” or “maybe”.

  2. “a nasty mixture of anti-intellectualism, cronyism and pig ignorance, where ideology trumps any rational assessment of the facts”? How not? What would the rabble of wicked children do other than replicate themselves?!

  3. <

    Its no different really from the tv stations who foster onto the Australian public any "celebrity" they want.

    Unless that "celebrity" is so god awful that people scream long and loud the public just puts up with the …. and that "long and loud" screaming has not happened to date.

    Now its being reported that Woolworths believes advertising alcohol is good because it "helps protect them … (children sic) …. from the seductive powers of capitalism" …. how good is that for a piece of marketing.

    When money is no object , to get any message across, just pour it into advertising.

    Pay and pay very sophisticated, highly educated people to get people addicted to the message.

    Using the same principles as poker machines ….. bells and whistles to keep the punters distracted from what is happening to them.

    Of course the coward Abbott is quite happy to throw plenty of alcohol into the mix.

    That's what they pay the Liberal party for.

  4. <


    Stop using the program.

    It has stripped what little intelligence you may have possessed.

    Humbly suggest you book into preschool and gain a bit of knowledge before the rabid Pyne gets there.

  5. I’m in. I’ll write a policy on kids right to freedom of choice in school canteens whilst encouraging OS trade. I’ve written to Mars and Nestle. They’re keen to sponsor a ‘hands on’ campaign. We could make quite a bit of ‘lolly’ out of this government if we play our cards right.

  6. <

    The coward Abbott talking about "cowards punch" …. but nothing about the alcohol industry.

    Top 5 violence hot spots in Brisbane :

    1 The Victory Hotel

    2 The Exchange Hotel

    3 The Story Bridge Hotel

    4 Gilhooley's Hotel, Loganholme

    5 Alex Hills Hotel

    Anyone see a correlation here ?

    The industry that pours so much money into the Liberal party gets absolutely no condemnation from the Prime Minister of Australia.

    Anything from the IPA about the alcohol Industry … nope !

  7. Ahhh, “The-Coots-With-Queer-Ideas-From-a-Parallel-Universe”…. it seems that these mongrels are running the whole show. Every time you turn around there they are implementing their medieval agenda.
    I wonder when they are going to announce the sale of CSIRO? Ohh, that’s right, they can’t; we haven’t got a Science Minister.

  8. How I wish that what you say were not true, Kay. Sadly, I see Australia going rapidly backwards at increasing speed in so many ways. ‘Forgive them, Lord. for they know not what they do.’ If Christ came back tomorrow, this lot would crucify Him all over again. Like the Bourbons (the French royal family, not the drink) they have learned nothing and forgot nothing.

  9. Certainly does seem like a recipe for building a self-perpetuating and self-fulfilling (for a time) echo chamber. Even triumphant Roman generals realized that you needed SOMEONE whispering in your ear to keep you grounded to reality (i.e., other points of view) during “triumphs” through Rome. It would seem that this Howard government Mk II (merely a dusting off of the late Howard game plan) does not even see that. It is becoming obvious that they feel September 2012 gives them unlimited sway to do what they want with Australia for the next three years (if not longer, heaven forbid!). Is there echoes of G Dubya Bush here after his “re-election” in the U.S. in 2004? Winning by a mere one to two percent of those who bothered to vote, he declared “I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it. It is my style.” Boy, did he …..

    But, the best-laid plans and all that. Perhaps the wheels will come off this short-sighted Liberal government sooner rather than later ….

  10. Concernedcitizen
    Was the software provided by the IPA, King Rupert or The Mad Monk?
    I take from your comment that you are a member of the LNP cheer squad (correct me if I’m wrong).
    Assuming that you do bat for Tony’s team. How many of your team mates need to use software instead of the in built bull shit detector almost 50% of the population have to separate fact from fiction?

  11. Concernedcitizen please uninstall your obvious IPA trojan infected software and instead invest in some CDF.

  12. @ concernedcitizen… how on earth could you have seen your own post????

  13. Why is it that LNP apologists need bullshit filters? Anyone who is able to think can usually demonstrate that skill without much grief. @concernedshitizen I recommend you go back to the murdochratic press where your “soft bits” won’t need to be challenged. And I bet you’re in church this morning which is why you haven’t responded yet.

  14. Excellent essay, Kaye – the entire essay deserves repeating, however will make do with your closing paragraph:

    It seems to me that what we are seeing is a nasty mixture of anti-intellectualism, cronyism and pig ignorance, where ideology trumps any rational assessment of the facts. Of course I agree that all intellectual positions are based on values. And that governments seek the advice they want to hear. But this egregious reliance on those who are blatantly partisan and lacking in expertise is a recipe for disastrous policy outcomes. These are not the failings of a government taking time to find its way; they are the habits of mind of right-wing ideologues, whose decision making is only likely to get worse. My Centre for Right-wing Apologist Politics is looking good.

    The Abbott government is too lazy to produce policies (had 6 years for this), too lazy to consult with experts, too lazy even to stop repeating their 3 word slogans.


  15. Faith trumps reason. It’s my belief (which, unlike opinion does not need to be founded on facts) that Donnelly’s opposition to the national curriculum and the Liberal Party’s obsession with reducing Federal Government influence on the curriculum and increasing support for “community schools” is founded in a desire to increase the control of the Catholic Church over its schools. Of course in doing that, they also give the same powers to other “community (ie religion-based) schools, such as fundamentalists of all persuasions.

    Here is an extract, dated October 1821, from the notebook of Italian poet Giacomo Leopardi:
    “The power of nature and the weakness of reason. I’ve said elsewhere that for opinions to have a real influence on people they must take the form of passions. So long as man has anything natural about him, he will be more passionate about opinion than about his passions. One could quote endless examples to demonstrate this point. But since all opinions that aren’t, or don’t seem to be prejudices, will have only pure reason to support them, in the ordinary way of things they are completely powerless to influence people. Religious folks (even today, and maybe more these days than ever before, in reaction to the opposition they meet) are more passionate about their religion than their other passions (to which religion is hostile); they sincerely hate people who are not religious (though they pretend not to) and would make any sacrifice to see their system triumph (actually they already do this, mortifying inclinations that are natural and contrary to religion), and they feel intense anger whenever religion is humbled or contested. Non-religious people, on the other hand, so long as their not being religious is simply the result of a cool-headed conviction, or of doubt, don’t hate religious people and wouldn’t make sacrifices for their unbelief, etc., etc. So it is that hatred over matters of opinion is never reciprocal, except in those cases where for both sides the opinion is a prejudice, or takes that form. There’s no war then between prejudice and reason, but only between prejudice and prejudice, or rather, only prejudice has the will to fight, not reason. The wars, hostilities and hatreds over opinions, so frequent in ancient times, right up to the present day in fact, wars both public and private, between parties, sects, schools, orders, nations, individuals—wars which naturally made people determined enemies of anyone who held an opinion different from their own—only happened because pure reason never found any place in their opinions, they were all just prejudices, or took that form, and hence were really passions. Poor philosophy then that people talk so much about and place so much trust in these days. She can be sure no-one will fight for her, though her enemies will fight her with ever greater determination; and the less philosophy influences the world and reality, the greater her progress will be, I mean the more she purifies herself and distances herself from prejudice and passion. So never hope anything from philosophy or the reasonableness of this century.”

  16. concerned(forthemselves)citizen,

    Normal sentient people don’t need artificial aids to tell them what’s true and what’s not. That’s what brains, intelligence, perception and insight are for. I guess it’s all too hard, huh? PS: If your bullshit detector hasn’t sounded the alarm on conservative propaganda it’s obviously not functioning.

  17. Must update my 2012 post Think our political debate is tanking? Ask the s(c)eptic celebs:

    “The bright sparks of the commentariat are ubiquitous. It seems impossible to make even short visit to the mass media, especially ABC radio or television, without running into one of the young jerks from the conservative (or is it libertarian) Institute of Public Affairs. Chris Berg and Tim Wilson have an opinion on everything. Name a topic and you can guess what their research has discovered before they speak. This foresight is a skill shared by tankers of all political persuasions.”

    Look forward to Donnelly’s ding dong dell on climate science for the school curriculum. Happy to join CRAP (with or without sceptic think tank) or start a Red Bluff Institute.

    PS What is Kevin D. a Dr of? Not a vet like our Vic premier Dr Napthine I suppose. If it’s education, what was his thesis? Must do a little research.

    Some of his writing can be found here: http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/author.asp?id=95 Thanks to Coalition Tea Lady @ItsBouquet for tip.

  18. Donnelly’s ‘PhD thesis argues the case for a liberal view of education, stressing the importance of cultural literacy and education being impartial and balanced.’ Source Linkedin: au.linkedin.com/pub/kevin-donnelly/0/910/471

  19. ‘Kevin is still sure that the ‘Cultural-left is dominant in areas like the ABC, the Fairfax Press, most of our universities and amongst our so-called public intellectuals.’
    I suspect this is true, except for the Fairfax Press. I also suspect that employees of the ABC, university students and lecturers, and public intellectuals are intelligent. They possibly use their intelligence to, umm, think, and perhaps do it a bit more deeply than those who are less intelligent. I’d love to see a breakdown of the academic qualifications of the Labor party as compared to the Liberals …

  20. The right wingnuts have had hundreds of pieces published on the Drum, and more are added every week, yet they still claim the ABC is biased against them. I gather it’s the Goebbels principle: Keep repeating a lie in the hope it will be accepted as the truth.

  21. Gee, concernedcitizen, I wouldn’t be advertising that I had software like that! If Rupert Murdoch finds out, you won’t be safe.

  22. Calling something an “Institute” in the political arena is a bit of a giveaway that the information it presents is ideologically driven.
    The integrity of any “reports” provided to the Abbott government are not likely to bear a close resemblance to what needs to occur. Abbott has made an art form out of using his mates who will basically produce the results he wants. If there was a team with members representing differing views, then there might be some credibility in any recommendations.

    It has been said that there were 26,000 submissions to the preceding creation of the National Curriculum , it has not even been trialed. It is hard to imagine how two ideologically driven reviewers can come up with something better.

    Concernedcitizen, while your comment was slightly satirical in the long run it is pretty meaningless.

  23. Maybe we should start by l; ooking at a term that Pyne uses. Sounds OK, until one takes a look.

    Yes, what does he believe by Judeo-/Christian values.

    ………What does ‘Judeo-Christian’ mean?
    By Dennis prager
    http://www.jewishworldreview.com | The United States of America is the only country in history to have defined itself as Judeo-Christian. While the Western world has consisted of many Christian countries and consists today of many secular countries, only America has called itself Judeo-Christian. America is also unique in that it has always combined secular government with a society based on religious values.
    But what does “Judeo-Christian” mean? We need to know. Along with the belief in liberty — as opposed to, for example, the European belief in equality, the Muslim belief in theocracy, and the Eastern belief in social conformity — Judeo-Christian values are what distinguish America from all other countries. That is why American coins feature these two messages: “In G-d we trust” and “Liberty.”
    Yet, for all its importance and its repeated mention, the term is not widely understood. It urgently needs to be because it is under ferocious assault, and if we do not understand it, we will be unable to defend it. And if we cannot defend it, America will become as amoral as France, Germany, Russia, et al.
    First, Judeo-Christian America has differe……………..


    Not as innocence a statement, that one would think.

  24. Is there much difference between the belief in the law based on the Koran, and that based on Judeo-Christian beliefs.

  25. The day will come when the steady right-ward drift of our society over the last 30 years or so will become intolerable. On that day centrists and progressives alike will begin the battle to turn back the tide and reverse the decline of our Aussie democracy into U.S. style corporate fascism. It will not be a pretty day but a necessary one. We cannot let the far-right succeed in their quest to remodel this country to reflect their extremist ideology. Enough said….

  26. In late 2008, Juliar created ACARA.
    In the Rudd-Gillard curriculum ACARA shelved the teaching of history and students are now required to choose between a successions of random, disconnected ‘depth’ units, which bear more resemblance to cultural studies than history. Worse, the curriculum leans toward a PC distinctly leftist agenda, which places undue emphasis on concepts like ‘environmentalism’, ‘socialism’, and ‘multiculturalism’ all the while denigrating the legacy and achievements of Western Civilisation. Nowhere is there a unit on the role played by British and European settlers in shaping the community.
    Thus the system has been straddled with left-wing dogma. It is no longer education, but indoctrination. Juliar got this straight from the Kremlin via the Fabian Society. Juliar of course knew that he who controls the past controls the future. And those who control the present control the past. It is time to put an end to this Communist invasion, and that is exactly what is happening.

  27. “emphasis on concepts like ‘environmentalism’, ‘socialism’, and ‘multiculturalism”

    Are not these concepts important. They are the reality of what we face today.

    Yes, they did set up a penal colony, but much has happened since then.

    It is another fact, the crimninlas stead, adding to out gene pool], while those who supervised then went home.

    The right are not the holders of all truth. Some would say, m there is more value studying the concepts of the left.

  28. >


    In 2014 the rabid Pyne hired a Liberal staffer who consults for big tobacco.

    The coward Abbott spoke out about “cowardly punches” but refused to speak out about alcohol …. the Liberal party is a major recipient of donations from the alcohol industry.

    “CC” you are behaving just like the rabid Pyne … get a grip on yourself.

  29. John Fraser @7:24 pm
    JF, I reckon CC has been getting a grip on himself too often of late. Best he wears boxing gloves for a while.

  30. Indoctrination straight for the Kremlin,communist invasion,FFS is there still people like you around.You moronic fool,what version of Gallipoli should be taught,the fact we were convict cannon fodder,or the romantic heroics BS of the entire tragedy.
    I best stop before I begin with the trash talk.
    PS.There you go,John,Dan,that’s one star to me.

  31. On adoption – Abbott is taking advice beyond Furness’s. He has set up a high-level Inter-Departmental Committee to report in March on how to speed up Inter-Country Adoption. But nothing changes. The committee is only taking submissions from parents’ groups allied with Furness; scholars expert in the field have been advised not to apply. And the committee will almost certainly recommend what the government wants to hear: a loosening of Australia’s obligations under the Hague Convention on International Adoption, which attempts to regulate the global market in babies. Another Abbott-government retreat from international obligations, and another win for the market.

  32. CC, as a History teacher, I can assure you that the units are neither random nor disconnected. You’ll find British and European settlers in Years 8 and 9, and Western achievements in ancient history, government through the ages and the Renaissance to pick just three. You’ll also be interested to know that the senior curriculum is based on the Modern World and Australia’s role in it, including the World Wars and the Cold War. The history taught presents a variety or perspectives on events so that they are fully understood, as any honest study of history should do. Anything else (such as choosing an ex-Liberal staffer and IPA member to review curriculum) would indeed be indoctrination.

    As for your Orwell quote, consider ‘stop the boats’ vs. ‘turn back the boats’, the removal of certain speeches from Abbott’s webpage or just the Liberal pre-election education statement, and think more about who is trying to change the past.

    And don’t forget to check for the Red under your Bed.

  33. Well said Adam.

    Claiming something is wrong (without any evidence whatsoever – unfounded claims do not count) with the intent to implement a narrow perspective, such as the claims by Pyne does not bode well for a comprehensive school curriculum.

    Abbott also needs to take a long hard look at his slogans, “stop the boats” is completely different from “turning back the boats”. In the former, this would mean that boats never start out which requires cooperation and aid at the source of refugees- thus the claims of wanting to reduce drownings has some merit, for the latter – “turning back the boats” does endanger lives of both asylum seekers, smugglers, our Navy at a massive fiduciary cost.

    Apparently in the world of CRAP – seeking to solve a problem is communistic whereas hiding a problem is (here words fail me) capitalist? democratic? or fascist?

  34. @ Concernedcitizen @ January 12, 2014 • 9:10 am “I have some software that completely strips out logical fallacies, innuendo, untruths, insinuation, ambiguity, inference, intimation, allusion, implication, and pure unadulterated bullshit from any article. I ran this one through it and there was nothing remaining! Not even an “and”, “to” or “maybe”.”

    Then how did you know what you were commenting to and what the article is about. I do believe you are giving a good dose of Bullshit out. Prithee, take it yourself and spare the rest of humanity.

  35. Adam @ January 13, 2014 • 7:56 pm “And don’t forget to check for the Red under your Bed.”

    I think it is far better to make sure the “Blue” is in the Loo, rather than a Red under the bed.

  36. You may be interested to find out where cc gets his information – straight from the IPA. Quel supris


  37. We should take CC’s posts here seriously enough. It is this quality of opinion which is now being applied to the national curriculum. And it will expect to have its recommendations implemented. Otherwise it will scream blue murder.
    What defences can be applied against this doctrinaire claptrap by people with knowledge and concern for education? Unless this is effectively fought, education across the country is to be heavily compromised; and anyone resisting it will become subject to reprisal. Such is the ‘liberal’ way.
    How is this to be fought? Do we wait for it to happen? What is the best way to discourage it?
    What are Labor’s intentions, as the alternative Government, a few percentage points from regaining office?
    It would be helpful to read here a response, and a layout of plans to combat a mentality which treats facts as conspiracies I know Labor reads here. So, how about it?

  38. The Teachers’ Federation has always been a strong union. I am sure they are watching with interest. It would be very hard to “punish” teachers if they show solidarity about protecting education from the influence of political or religious ideology.

  39. I am sorry, but “quality” anything is an oxymoron in Australia right now.

  40. The Teachers’ Federation will play an important part, Kaye.
    But you know that Abbott would relish twisting this into a fight for ‘freedom’ against Labor and the unions.
    As you know well, of course, we have to adapt to the destructive tactics by this woeful Government: -
    which warps any debate into a civil war against internal enemies,
    plays up to the prejudices of an unintelligent section of the populace,
    and has the MSM as guarantor for its snide and shallow messages.

  41. Unfortunately it is apparent that ABBOTT and his conservative clowns are intent upon reversing whatever they can, and causing angst among the intelligent persons (those who opposed the conservative view) who are LEFT. I could say lots of nasty things about ABBOTT, Abbott supporters and the like but it would only be read and understood by the afforementioned intelligencia. Suffice for me to find something that will get right under ABBOTTs skin and require some type of response. It is coming.

  42. Kaye Lee @ January 15, 2014 • 12:11 pm “You may be interested to find out where cc gets his information – straight from the IPA. Quel supris


    You weren’t kidding, Kaye Lee. Most of it is a direct copy and paste (which would be a fail in my History class!). It’s in an interesting insight into the conservative mind when the English Civil War is cited as highly important. The attack on the definition of ‘real history’ in that article shows how fundamentally they misunderstand how history is both constructed and taught.


  1. Centre for Right-wing Apologist Politics (CRAP) | OzHouse

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