When the IPA came up with their list of 75 plus 25 policies “that would make Australia richer and more free” they described it as “a deliberately radical list”.
“There’s no way Tony Abbott could implement all of them, or even a majority. But he doesn’t have to implement them all to dramatically change Australia. If he was able to implement just a handful of these recommendations, Abbott would be a transformative figure in Australian political history. He would do more to shift the political spectrum than any prime minister since Whitlam.”
So how is the Coalition government going in fulfilling their wishes?
They repealed the carbon tax (1) and abolished the Department of Climate Change (2). They tried to abolish the Clean Energy Fund (3) and watered down the renewable energy target (6) though nuclear power is back on the agenda (90). Environmental approvals for major projects has been devolved to the states (44).
They have also tried, and may again, to repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act (4).
There has been talk of returning income taxing powers to the states (7) and giving them the responsibility for health (79) and education (80). The government also remains committed to cutting company tax (46) whilst broadening the base of the GST (78).
On education, the Coalition are tracking well by aiming to introduce fee competition to Australian universities (11), reviewing the National Curriculum (12), and discussing competing private secondary school curriculums (13).
In October 2013 Christopher Pyne said the Liberal Party was “100% in favour of voluntary student unionism and we will move to abolish the student services amenities fee when it’s appropriate to do so” (39), and the new Education Minister has come up with the bright idea of a voucher scheme for secondary schools (40).
The government also defunded the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition (74).
We have eliminated the National Preventative Health Agency (29) and there is talk of means testing Medicare (20).
David Leyonjhelm wants plain packaging for cigarettes repealed (38) and, despite us being sued for it under an old Free Trade Agreement, Andrew Robb has hastily complied with (60) “Remove all remaining tariff and non-tariff barriers to international trade” by pursuing free trade agreements with Australia’s largest trading partners, including China, India, Japan and South Korea (87).
Their call to end all hidden protectionist measures, such as preferences for local manufacturers in government tendering (64), will likely see the contract for our submarines going offshore.
We have not only abandoned the proposed paid parental leave scheme (19), we are unwinding the existing one, and whilst we haven’t eliminated Family Tax benefits altogether (18), they have been significantly wound back.
The Baby Bonus has gone (56) and the First Home Owner grant has been reduced (57).
The IPA called for the abolition of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (14), and in June, Communications Minister Turnbull called for a review to determine their future.
Mitch Fifield is moving to eliminate media ownership restrictions (27) with calls to eliminate laws that require radio and television broadcasters to be ‘balanced’ (15) and end local content requirements for Australian television stations (17).
They have ceased funding the Australia Network (47) and are clamouring to break up the ABC (50) and privatise SBS (51).
They have repealed the mining tax (43), privatised Medibank (49), and are looking to privatise Australia Post (48). It will no longer be necessary to subsidise the car industry (30) as their lack of support killed it.
Whilst we have not yet privatised the NBN (69) and CSIRO (72), both have been hobbled, the first by an insistence on outdated technology and the second by huge funding cuts.
The Human Rights Commission is hanging on (82) but they had to take on the IPA’s very expensive, underqualified, underachieving Tim Wilson.
Tony Abbott wasted no time in closing the Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education (21) on September 18 2013. He also insisted on a one-in, one-out approach to regulatory reduction (31) and set about greatly reducing the size of the public service (52).
He reduced the sitting time of parliament and passed comparatively little legislation during his time as PM (94).
Kevin Andrews also moved quickly to rule out the introduction of mandatory pre-commitment for electronic gaming machines (99).
Abbott’s leaders’ retreat in July backed the move for the Northern Territory to become a state by 2018 (58).
We have a whole Minister (plus Gina’s boy Barnaby) devoted to (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.”
We are also actively pursuing foreign investment in Australia’s agricultural industry (97) with many of Australia’s richest people all of a sudden moving into dairy and beef farming in partnership with foreign companies.
Work is underway to end preferences for Industry Super Funds in workplace relations laws (34) with the option of allowing people to opt out of or draw on superannuation (68).
The Royal Commission into Trade Unions is fulfilling the IPA’s wish to have trade unions regulated like public companies (83) and mooted industrial relations reforms may see the Fair Work act repealed (53) with individuals and employers to negotiate directly terms of employment that suit them (54).
This summary mentions 55 of the IPA’s 100 points. Tony far exceeded expectations in implementing the IPA’s agenda and it seems Malcolm is determined to keep up the ‘good’ work. It has certainly been transformative, but not in a good way, which makes one question the description of the IPA as a ‘think tank’.