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Day to Day Politics: Is the IPA getting its way?

Sunday March 13 2016

The Insidious Invasion of the IPA into Australian Politics, or Public Apathy and 75 Ideas to Make You Shudder.

The Institute of Public Affairs is a free market right-wing think tank that is funded by some of Australia’s major companies and is closely aligned to the Liberal Party.

In April 2013 it held its 70th Birthday Bash with Rupert Murdoch as its keynote speaker. Andrew Bolt was the Master of Ceremonies. Special guests included Gina Rinehart, Cardinal George Pell and many other conservative luminaries. A special address by then opposition leader Tony Abbott was a highlight.

The IPA put forward 75 proposals for a future Abbott government to consider. They were accompanied by an article titled: ‘Be like Gough: 75 radical ideas to transform Australia’ and attributed to John Roskam, Chris Berg and James Paterson.

Here is a short extract.

“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 vigor 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.”

In his speech Abbott acknowledged the Institute’s input into LNP policy and took the opportunity to commit to a whole raft of big promises to radically change the culture and political landscape of Australia.

“I want to assure you,” he said, “that the Coalition will indeed repeal the carbon tax, abolish the department of climate change, and abolish the Clean Energy Fund. We will repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, at least in its current form. We will abolish new health and environmental bureaucracies. We will deliver $1 billion in red-tape savings every year. We will develop northern Australia. We will repeal the mining tax. We will create a one-stop shop for environmental approvals. We will privatise Medibank Private. We will trim the public service and we will stop throwing good money after bad on the NBN.”

True to his word he made a decent hole in the list. He stopped subsidies to the car industry, eliminated (partly) Family Tax Benefits, destroyed the ABC’s Australia network, abandoned poker machine reform, and negotiated free trade deals with Japan, South Korea, China and India. Albeit without much detail. The NBN is now nothing like what was originally intended or needed.

An observation.

‘The problem with designing a network to meet the needs of today is that it denies you the ability to meet the needs of tomorrow’.

It doesn’t end there. He might not have abolished the Human Rights Commission, but has cut $1.65 million from its budget. It refused to renew the position of its disability commissioner and without due process appointed one of the IPAs own in Tim Wilson as a commissioner. (Since departed) Attorney-General George Brandis has flagged an intention to “further reform” the HRC.

The Australian National Preventive Health Agency also went and the food, alcohol and tobacco companies fell over with gratitude.

The IPA, not content with its list of 75 has added a further 25 items for the government’s consideration. They may not get them all, but the big fish is the institute’s desire to have all media ownership laws eliminated, for example, along with the relevant regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority, and requirements put in place that radio and TV broadcasts be “balanced”.

The then communications minister Malcolm Turnbull sought to change the media rules with the likely outcome: more concentration in Australia’s media, already the most concentrated and least diverse in the developed world. More influence for the IPA and Rupert Murdoch.

It makes you wonder just who is governing. The government or the IPA. Or, it at the very least, brings into question the influence lobby groups have over governments. Particularly extreme right think tanks like the IPA who seem only to exist for the benefit of big business, the rich and the privileged.

In a lifetime of following politics in this country I have never known the electorate to be in such a political malaise. A non-caring, non-knowing apathy seems to have gripped the nation. The polls tell us that a large portion of the population supports a government that is performing incompetently with a leader equally doing so.

John Howard said that people these days care little for ideology. He is correct. The undecided 10% that once decided elections has expanded to 20%. People just want good policy that represents the common good.

People need to remember that the isms, be it Capitalism, Socialism, Fascism, Conservatism, Liberalism or Communism are only economic THEORIES! They are nothing more than words written on paper. They are not active and they do nothing. Each theory is neither good nor bad. Each theory is ultimately what the people make of them. Democracy is nothing more than a theory. Our constitution is nothing more or nothing less than what we make of it.

The US Constitution and Bill of Rights have no authority. They are nothing more than what the American people make of them. When, because of our apathy we choose to ignore and neglect our government it is easily influenced by self-interest groups like the IPA- to serve their own purposes and there is nothing that says that those who come to manage the government must be ethical, moral, or responsible to the people. When good people neglect their government they are then governed by lesser people. We then end up with the government we deserve.

In an article I wrote just prior to Abbott’s election I said this:

’I am in fact absolutely frightened, no petrified by the prospect that he might win and the devastation he might create with his inane personality, his reliance on lobbyists and right-wing think tanks to form policy. Also on his Catholicism and the mediocre minds of his shadow cabinet cohort’.

The rest of course is history and now we are confronted with a government led by a leader who is not his own man with all Abbott’s IPA inspired policies. A government that has lurched so far to the right that it is in dander of falling from a flat earth mindset.

The 75 IPA Ideas to send a shiver down your spine.

I had intended to comment on some of the individual proposals but on reflection thought it best to allow the reader to draw his or her own conclusions and comment if they so desire. The best advice I can give is to be seated while reading. A shot of whiskey might also help.

This of course is not to say that some don’t have merit.

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:

  1. a) Lower personal income tax for residents
  2. b) Significantly expanded 457 Visa programs for workers
  3. 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 left of politics is concerned with people who cannot help themselves. The right is concerned with those who can.’



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  1. cuppa

    1. Abolish the IPA.

  2. Margot

    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

  3. Margot

    James Paterson,Deputy Executive Director of the IPA,was preselected to fill the casual vacancy following the resignation of Senator Michael Ronaldson.
    His farewell letter to the IPA is quite illuminating. You can read it at

  4. Kaye Lee

    George Brandis was also at the IPA 70th Birthday Bash. Tim Wilson obviously impressed him. George has always had a close connection to the Young Liberals, the preschool for the IPA which is then their stepping stone into politics.

    Talking to a Young Liberal is so predictable. Before you count to ten they will have said “nanny state”, “small government”, “free market” and probably spat out a “socialism” or two. If you try to discuss any of those topics with them they flounder. They are the words they chant as their creed with no real understanding, encouraged by the capitalists who wish to mold them for future power. Their sources of information are always groups/people funded by vested interests. They are groomed to believe personal success is paramount – that value is measured only in dollars.

  5. Florence nee Fedup

    Those that have not been disbanded such as youth board have been defunded. Many after middle this year.

  6. Florence nee Fedup

    Tim Wilson was supposed to take over after they forced Trigg to resign. Thankfully she bravely resisted their cruel attack.

  7. Margot

    The IPA is coming to a school and campus near you.

    The Institute of Public Affairs will bridge the gap between the next generation and the ideas of free
    markets, individual responsibility, capitalism, and democracy. The Future of Freedom Fund of the
    Institute of Public Affairs will empower the next generation with the spirit of freedom. Now is the time for us to take action together.
    The Future of Freedom Fund is supported by three pillars – Research, Resources and Support.
    Generation Liberty is a component of the Future of Freedom Fund that will communicate the IPA’sresearch to young people aged between 16 and 25.
    Research. The program will employ dedicated research fellows who will deliver the content of
    the Future of Freedom Fund.
    Resources. The program will publish resourcesto support the needs of the next generation,
    including infographics, videos, podcasts and aninteractive website.
    Support. The program will provide a safe place
    for students to participate in informed debateand robust discussion about democracy, liberty,
    and free markets. Participants will also have the opportunity to engage in mentoring sessions.
    The IPA is delighted to announce the appointment of our first two Campus Coordinators. The Generation Liberty Campus Coordinators are part of the Future of FreedomFund. We will build a community across Australia’s universities and schools in which students can discuss liberty, free markets and society.
    The IPA has also created a new Facebook page—Generation Liberty—to provide students with another forum where they can engage with each other.
    The Campus Coordinators will:
    • Create a virtual bookclub, including a curated booklist, where students can discuss the values and
    ideas of the texts.
    • Build a network of like-minded students by promoting activities and events, and distributing materials via posters, social media and other marketing materials.
    • Develop resources for students, and research issues on-campus.
    • Foster a university environment characterised by ideological tolerance and academic freedoms.

  8. Neil Hogan

    Who the f*ck do they think they are & why does anyone even give them the time of day??
    Let’s just call them for what they are, “Idiots Personified Australia.”
    Right Wing Think Tank??
    Right Wing Wank Tank more like it & the tank is overflowing!!
    They are closely aligned to the “Liebral” Party you say??
    The “Liebral” Party is closely aligned to the IPA I say!!
    OK, anyone can put out a wish list, but without any associated reasoning as to why any one particular issue is listed or the benefits to the community as a whole if adopted why would anyone, least of all the Australian government, give it a second thought or any credence whatsoever??
    In the words of Darryl Kerrigan, “Tell ’em they’re dreaming!!”

  9. Carol Taylor

    Odd that the IPA wanted the National Broadband dismantled. One would have thought that being pro-business that they would have wanted buckets of money thrown at it, fast broadband being essential to efficiency in business. But then the conservatives never did quite get it about this broadband thingy…

  10. Jackie

    The IPA or Insidious Political Arseholes will bloody destroy the joint.

  11. townsvilleblog

    Great article and comments from both Jackie and Sally K.

  12. lawrencewinder

    Richard Ackland in The Saturday Paper calls them the Institute of Paid Advocacy, I call them The Coots-With-Queer-Ideas-From-a-Parallel-Universe. The mongrels always remind me as always having a solution to a question that has yet to be asked. They really need their charity status revoked and to be investigated as to who their donors are. They are socially divisive and are having for unelected officials a very corrosive effect on the country.

  13. musicinhills

    Whatever you say whatever you think, they are there to stay, and they won’t decease their efforts, there is more to the IPA than just few conservatives, it is more of an international organization now, it is a orchestrated attempt at control of common people, Tony Abbott told you, God thinks slavery is acceptable, Ask yourself, what does the IPA want to achieve, I myself cannot see them as anything other than fascist, dinky-die fascist, and I ask, is that too hard to understand.

  14. Nick

    I think its disingenuous to use the term, free market right-wing think tank when describing the IPA. They are nothing more than the union for the wealthy who are happy to use corrupt practices to achieve their aim which is the transferal of all the ‘common wealth’ into their hands!

  15. diannaart

    Wot Cuppa said:

    Abolish The IPA

  16. bensab3

    So pleased to read this article. I have been tweeting the first list on and off since before Abbott became PM, I think. Then I became aware of the second. I think somehow this article must be distributed to as many people as possible, because of that very apathy. I cannot understand how it is that so many people I know, don’t really care to read and inform themselves of what is happening in politics these days and accept the lies and misrepresentations that are spewed out by the coalition. I too am feeling extreme concern for our future, it seems so evident to me, but I am retired and I do have much more time to spare, informing myself I guess.

    The IPA I remember years ago, was being discussed and it was revealed that the organisation was funded by fossil fuel industries, big tobacco and one I remember particularly is Washington H Soul Pattinson. Unfortunately now I can’t remember what the article or discussion was published in. The IPA is aligned with The Heartland Foundation in the U.S., along with Americans for Prosperity – Murdoch is involved with these two as well, as with the other Koch Brothers’ organisations. Their specialty is churning out Climate Change Denial (fossil fuel-funded) scientists – none of them, as far as I can see are Climate Scientists. Sen. J. Madigan is a member of ‘Stop These Things’ dedicated to preventing wind farms, and he has coerced Xenophon to join him. I was led to believe this is also aligned to the IPA.

    The ABC has been turned into a voice for the Government, with IPA members stacked throughout the broadcaster now. No longer is it an independent voice for the people. I am dismayed that the marches that were held all over Australia, were ignored by the media, and it has worked, as nothing more is being protested. Where to go from here? Yes, I am in dispair

  17. cry johnnie crying roy travailliste ou est vous

    Perhaps the – “non-caring, non-knowing apathy seems to have gripped the nation’ is natural?

    ‘The polls tell us that a large portion of the population supports a government that is performing incompetently with a leader equally doing so.” could be explained by how gillard went from 56% approval to disaster?
    She was incredibly strong, articulate and in parliamentary term successful but ‘apathy’ was awakened by lies and bullshit day after day, till no one remembered her and labor’s achievements.
    How many remember what they were told yesterday unless they are reminded or the message is a slogan?
    There was no chance to forget why to dump gillard but who knows ‘they’ have ‘performed incompetently’? ABC viewers? 7/9 watchers? Murdoch readers? Fairfax readers? Facebook? Twitter??

    Government money flows deeply to the boys of the IPA and their pokie machines for us to pull the handle. Wow bells and whistles then some coins trickle down and the hope you will be next is established.
    America is lousy at the worker level but great at the IPA level so they are going for it.

    The theory ‘nothing is free in Australia so if you get gov money thank a taxpayer’ Can we hear gina and the boys laughing or saying the ‘thank you’ our forelock tuggers are required too? She has access to her $2 a day workforce

  18. johnlward010

    A majority vote does not necessarily mean rule by the people. What we do have is elections once every three years and “democracy” one day every three years, we are told if you don’t like what we do, then throw us out in three years. No input in between so called elections.

    This last election was so deadly boring for six years of abbott campaigning, that of 14 million eligible voters, 400,000 failed to register. 1 million registered voters, voted informal (a record). Finally and significantly the registered youth voters almost militantly did not vote. Their numbers were 2 million! So more than 25% of the electorate surrendered in apathy their right to use their vote, in the once every three year chance at least to express their right to be heard.
    Abbott won on AAA of Apathy. Look at the result.

  19. Jaq

    It’s getting to a stage where it’s like watching a game of chess between IPAL ( that’s what they should be called) and Labor. LNP never EVER had any policies any ideas for this country’s future. Abbott was a puppet being controlled by the IPA, Catholic Church, the US and big guts like Rinehart and Murdock.

    If Labor wins, surely Shorten’s first move should be to abolish the IPA. Then he can go about sacking any Lieberals that hold any positions of power, just like Abbott did. But then we have ping pong serving balls from the left.

    I hope we have a balanced senate and some people in control that are at least honest and out to serve the people, but…

    I shall now go and pinch myself several times.

  20. gangey1959

    Maybe, following on from the RC into Trade Unions, one is required into the ipa and the Australia Institute, to establish where and who their funding comes from, and what recommendations and advice are given to the lnp as a result.
    What politico-corporate positions arte filled by ex ipa members should also come under scrutiny.
    I for one am tired of having MY country stuffed up and sold off to the highest bidder by people who don’t know don’t care, and will never understand. May they be the first up against the wall when the revolution comes.

  21. stephengb2014

    ‘The left of politics is concerned with people who cannot help themselves. The right is concerned with those who can.’


  22. Royce Arriso

    A toast to the IPA

    The IPA–what cons sublime they carried off in Kennett’s time!
    Made grubby plans, then this decree; quick, privatise the SEC
    All done with po-faced rectitude, it ended with the public screwed.
    And still today, they pay and pay! All thanks to them, the IPA
    Can other right-wing think-tanks boast such splendid outcomes?
    So, a toast. A toast to being rich: its tough, when far too much is not enough
    And to their backers; grasping banks, asbestos and tobacco–thanks.
    For when they strive to put their view of ‘ make us rich and you’ll be too’
    Who can propel this pseudo-fact into the ether? Who will act,
    Or speak, when they to Satan pray? The one, the only IPA!
    So, here’s to happy days, when lines of little kids go down the mines;
    To ‘457’ on a form and exploitation as the norm
    To putting human values last, by saying that the time’s long past
    For helping folk in Third World lands. Lets help a dollar changing hands
    (Meanwhile, bid18c goodbye. They must be free to vilify)
    Here’s to their acolytes; each looks on life as something read in books,
    Then preach this unreality, in forums on the ABC.
    How does Australia work, you say? By theories from the IPA
    O furtive, scheming entity, now and forever, ethics-free!

  23. mark delmege
  24. Jack

    Removal of 18c. The IPA Conservatives want to be able to call a black person. A Black C-xnt. and call it free speech. Or discriminate against Gays and Lesbians or even ex female Prime Ministers. The reason they want to abolish 18C is because they have an agenda. The Conservatives, IPA and red necked commentators could learn a thing or 2 from Oscar Wilde about making their point. There is a wonderful thing called The Dictionary. Where if one is clever enough one can make their point extremely well using all the words that is available to them. Though the Conservatives are like Dracula; it doesn’t matter what they say; we know their motivation is getting blood. Though they will invent problems to hoodwink the gullible public like fear; Terrorism, Dole Bludgers. Dodgy Unions, Penalty Rates or any other underhand policy that doesn’t have a name yet.

  25. Möbius Ecko

    But that’s a one way ticket Jack.

    When the shoes on the other foot and someone makes a derogatory statement against IPA individuals or other influential right wingers, they use the full force of their influence and wealth to bring on or threaten defamation.

    Murdoch is a classic example of this where he allows his media outlets to deliberately conduct some of the most hateful and despicable individual attacks, but whenever Murdoch is attacked he calls those attacks atrocious and demands his privacy on threat of legal action against the attackers.

  26. Jack

    Mobious Ecko Not sure what you want? Do you want 18C removed also?

  27. Möbius Ecko

    I’m pointing out the double standards of the conservatives and IPA. Sorry if that wasn’t obvious.

  28. Jack

    I think 18c protects the small man or the less powerful man. Or Woman.

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