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Who writes this stuff?

It is becoming increasingly obvious that Tony Abbott’s plan for governing is to work his way through the IPA’s wish list of 75 (+25) “radical ideas”.

Since these people seem to be determining the direction our country will take I thought it worth investigating the qualifications of the authors of the paper, John Roskam, Chris Berg, and James Paterson.

John Roskam is the institute’s executive director. Prior to his employment at the IPA, Roskam was the Executive Director of the Menzies Research Centre in Canberra. He has also held positions as an adviser to federal and state education ministers, and was the manager of government and corporate affairs for the Rio Tinto Group.

The other two young men, Berg and Paterson, seem to have no relevant qualifications or experience other than appearing on the Drum and writing for publications like the Australian.

Relevant experience is not a prerequisite to get a gig at the IPA. Focusing on the National Curriculum, we have Stephanie Forrest who just finished her BA with Honours last year. In her Honours thesis, she reconstructed a previously lost Byzantine chronicle dating to the period of the early Islamic conquests (7th-8th centuries AD), and included a translation of the entire chronicle from early-medieval Greek into English. From what I can see she has no education qualifications or experience other than as a student, most recently in somewhat esoteric classical history.

In the article preceding the 75 points, the authors warn that “the generous welfare safety net provided to current generations will be simply unsustainable in the future… Change is inevitable.” It’s interesting that they do not mention the generous tax concessions for the wealthy and subsidies for the mining companies and banks who are making superprofits.

They then outline the game plan.

“But if Abbott is going to lead that change he only has a tiny window of opportunity to do so. If he hasn’t changed Australia in his first year as prime minister, he probably never will.

Why just one year? The general goodwill voters offer new governments gives more than enough cover for radical action. But that cover is only temporary. The support of voters drains. Oppositions organise. Scandals accumulate. The clear air for major reform becomes smoggy.”

We are halfway through that year. The honeymoon period vanished very quickly, no major reform has been achieved, and the support of the voters is fading. Whilst the Labor Party may not yet have found a clear direction, the opposition of the people is organised and growing, and the scandals are emerging. The only “radical action” has been the reintroduction of knighthood which has been rightly ridiculed.

They go on to talk about “culture wars” and the “Nanny State”, the mantra of all Young Liberals, most of whom have no idea of the meaning of what they are repeating. It is so predictable – you cannot have a conversation with a Young Liberal without them using those phrases endlessly in what reeks of indoctrination.

Apparently we should be more concerned about the Australian National Preventive Health Agency introducing Nanny State measures than the culture wars promoted by academics and the bias at the ABC. We should be worried about the “cottage industry” of environmental groups. We should be more concerned that senior public servants shape policy more than elected politicians do, regardless of them being experts in their fields.

Describing their 75 points the authors say

“It’s 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.”

Do we actually want to “dramatically change Australia”? The authors suggest that just a handful of the proposed changes will cause that change. Reading through the lists here (75) and here (+25) shows that many of them are either underway or under discussion, the latest being

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

The IPA is supported by people who think that money and power are the most important things and that the world should be run to facilitate them accumulating more of the same. The IPA 70th birthday in April last year saw Cardinal Pell sitting with Gina Rinehart and Rupert Murdoch being courted by Tony Abbott and a bevy of Liberal MPs with sycophants Andrew Bolt and Alan Jones watching on. George Brandis and Tim Wilson also obviously had a fruitful conversation.

The connection between Murdoch, Rinehart, ANDEV, and the IPA shows whose interests they are being paid to represent. To think that our government is doing the same is truly frightening.


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  1. Matters Not

    BTW Kaye, Chris Berg is pretty well qualified.

    RMIT University

    Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Economics and Finance

    2013 – 2016 (expected)

    University of Melbourne

    Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), History, Politics

    2001 – 2004

    And I suspect that James Paterson is as well.

    They don’t lack ability but just have different ‘values’, broadly defined

  2. Kaye Lee

    Thanks for that Matters Not. They did not include that in their bios on the IPA site. Perhaps they should. I would be more comfortable if they had some practical experience rather than just theory but it is a start, though I am not sure if you can claim qualifications for courses in which you have enrolled.

  3. abbienoiraude

    This attitude to the poor, the needy, the disabled and disenfranchised does my head in!

    ..” the generous welfare safety net provided to current generations will be simply unsustainable in the future….Change is inevitable.”

    Who says it is ‘generous’?
    What part of ‘safety net’ don’t they understand?
    How long is a ‘generation’ and what denotes ‘current generations’ 10,20,30 years?
    “Unsustainability” is only for those thinking about numbers as they stand now, not considering the human cost, the future vision, nor the capability of support for all those in need by a wealthy country.
    The ‘change’ they infer is nothing more than a soft way of saying; Bugga youse all, we are the bosses so you can go to hell.

    I am in despair with this mob of …well…arseholes. No moral compass, no guiding light, no compassion, no consideration for circumstance… they are all missing the point of life and its purpose~!

    Where to from here? ( America the brave perhaps?)

  4. Grace Leigh

    Amazingly, until now, with our “generous welfare state” we had one of the best economies in the world. Now we don’t. You know, he could just be right about creating a million jobs, if this does go ahead in the North. It’s just that none of them will be for Australians.

  5. bighead1883

    None at the IPA has a genuine thought on this wish list Kaye because it`s all taken from ALEC-American Legislative Exchange Council
    This is mainly a Koch Bros initiative for corporations to rule the world and all FTA`s and the TPP and TPPA are ALEC driven.
    They have to be stopped>>

  6. Cloud

    I wouldn’t call having an Arts degree and being part-way through a PhD ‘well qualified’, Matters Not. Certainly not well qualified to make the kinds of policy reccomendations the IPA is making. And I say this as somebody who is doing an Arts degree (on the side).

  7. Zvyozdochka (@Zvyozdochka)

    The IPA (and Young Liberals) represent a form of bastardised Libertarian value unrecogniseable to the concept.

    It’s pure unapologetic selfishness, that has been easily popularised by self-interested money in the USofA into full blown failed economics like ‘trickle-down’.

    Since Reagan, it’s taken a little over a generation for this selfishness to cause financial chaos and social destruction. We should be learning the US lessons, no wanting to copy their hopeless mistakes, but people have to organise behind progressive politics (or cause its return at the wimpy-Labor Party).

  8. Stuart Errol Anderson

    thanks for the link to ALEC bighead 1883. The analysis of ALEC model bills gives some simple and straightforward explanations of how IPA policies align with corporate interests. One little example I noticed, transport infrastructure funding to go on roads not public transport as this advantages oil companies and other corporations.

  9. Kaye Lee

    I never considered that aspect of our PM’s push for roads. It’s so obvious now that you mention it.

  10. Stephen Tardrew

    Thank God IPA lack the power of Alec in the States or we would be up the creek with who knows what. ALEC introduces model legislation which is often taken up by state legislators almost word for word.

    We do have a window of opportunity to stop this transfer of wealth and increased inequality. Really these policies are a recipe for disaster. Work Choices did Howard in and Abbott’s attempt to ride on the back of Labors internal collapse did not give him sanction to make such drastic changes. Its up to Labor to hold the torch to the Government.

    Somebody has to have the courage to clearly state that if we want the sort of social services and necessary infrastructure into the future then everyone has to contribute including the workers, corporations, the financial sector and miners. This inevitably means increased income through taxes such as, resource tax and ETS for a start. A tax on derivatives and high frequency trading would help. Corporate welfare should be abolished and religions should not be completely tax exempt. Conversely wages need to grow.

    To balance taxation we need an increase in income which increases the tax base. A small amount of inflation is not problem. Income is only inflationary when it is out of kilter with expenditures. Increased income and increased taxes do not have to be disastrous for the economy. We have been so conditioned by the US Fed to believe that money printing equals inflation when the US has been printing money hand over fist as a gift for corrupt bankers since 2008 while screwing the middle class and poor. Where the hell is the inflation? These con-men lie through their teeth.

    Austerity shrinks the economy and reduces purchasing power. How the hell with less money can you generate more income and employment? Oh! dear I forgot through low wage jobs.

    Poverty employment? Well the US has tried that and look who pays welfare to Walmart employees (tax payers) who cannot afford food or accommodation while Walmart rakes in 17 billion in profits. Hint Walmart is the largest company in the US and tops Fortune 500. Poor suffering job creators.

    When all the assets are sold what next? If you have a growing deficit then bloody well pay for it through income enhancement and taxation. But no we have to screw welfare programs. When the next crisis occurs and it most surely will, there will be no more silverware to sell. Welcome to financial hell.

    People do not have to be worse off. The mantra that taxation must be reduced along with wages and conditions to stimulate the economy is just rampant stupidity. Are you mad or something.

    The IPA are a bunch of charlatans.

    The failure to increase the tax base and stimulate wages growth is going to completely unwind the safety net and Labor will be held complicit unless they challenge economic rationalism from a contemporary Keynesian perspective. Where is the long term planning.

    Duh! the stimulus worked.

    Double Duh! austerity does not work (go to Europe).

    Who in the hell turns right over a cliff instead of the safety of the left. (progressive left not Labor at the moment)

    I’ll leave you to work that one out.

  11. Kaye Lee

    Gawd he’s embarrassing

    “As Sir Peter Cosgrove and Lady Lynne travel the length and breadth of our country, visiting all the places that aren’t important enough for Prime Ministers, you will affirm these two fundamental Australian characteristics: to give a fair go to others and to have a fair go yourself.”

  12. Kaye Lee

    They are appealing to people who read headlines and remember three word slogans. Their audience can sit back because the adults are in charge.

    They sound like they know what’s going on – they have an impressive name and lots of important people went to their birthday party so they must know what they are talking about.

    The people who voted for the Liberal Party are either on the wealth train and heartily endorse these ideas, or they have no interest in politics and believe what Rupert and Andrew tell them. They aren’t interested in explanations of why things would be beneficial.

    It would be interesting to read their reasoning behind 73. Defund Harmony Day

  13. Stuart Errol Anderson

    “Why is it that they offer a dot-point list of suggestions, but no explanation as to why these things should be done or what benefit they would have?”
    I would say this is because the IPA does not reveal their corporate sponsors and the amounts of funding they receive. To do so would reveal their policy prescriptions as being for the benefit of the private donors, not the public. For them to be honest about the benefits would require admitting the benefit is for those who supply their funding.
    For example points 14,15,16,17,27 and 69 are for the benefit of Murdoch. Points 42, 43, and 44 are for Gina and so on.

    Also by not offering explanations they present their policies as ‘given’, not to be questioned or challenged, which is how media such as the Australian treats them.

  14. Harry Harris

    Everyone is supposed to get a go on the roundabout so they say and as far as the Right is concerned,Keynes has had a go,now we have to give Hayek and Friedman a turn.
    One of the quotes from above was right on the button,the LNP and all their hanger’s on think tanks have never had an original thought or original idea about the subject’s they proffess to specialise in,they are nothing but Spruikers selling someone else’s half baked ideas.
    Of course they dont have any of their own ideas,these Think Tank pseudo-experts are reading from the Hayek/Friedmanite handbook like a well scripted theatrical performance.
    The trouble is that the reason why Keynesian idea’s ruled the roost for so long was because the Right had already proved their inability to any economy by causing vast countless wars and devastating economic collapse’s.Neo-Liberalism,Neo-Conservatism,Corporate Fascism and whatever the Libertarian Right Wing call themselves next,is,a feral waste of innocent lives,totally unproven,and completely unecessary.

  15. Joe Banks

    Kaye Lee, even if the people you mention above have pockets bulging with Degrees and PhD’s, it would still not necessarily make them decent, caring, fair minded human beings. I agree with what you say but I think we should largely judge them on what they say and what they do. There are so many people in our society who are supposedly highly qualified but lack judgement, perception and common sense in the same way that some people lack intelligence (no offence intended). You only have to look at our government to see that in technicolour. Paul Keating was not a graduate of any university but he was a great treasurer and prime minister who had the interests of the people of this country foremost in his mind… Kaye, you are probably like me and keep asking yourself, WHAT IS IT THESE PEOPLE CAN’T SEE.

  16. Chris Duke

    Why is it that they offer a dot-point list of suggestions, but no explanation as to why these things should be done or what benefit they would have?

  17. lawrencewinder

    The “Coots-With-Queer-Ideas-From-a-Parallel-Universe:” need to be “opened-up”. If, as they seem, they’re running the show as unelected “advisors” then as a matter of democratic transparency the “donations” their charity ( yes, Roskam admitted on 774 last Friday that they had charity status) receives from business’ various, needs to be made public so that we can all know whose tune, besides Gina’s and Rupert’s, Rabbutt-the-Hun and we are all dancing to.


    From John Roskam’s Bio: “Working for Don Hayward [the Victorian Education Minister 1992-96] and David Kemp [the Federal Education Minister 1996-01]. You can’t shut several hundred schools [in Victoria] and reduce teacher numbers by 10 per cent without sophisticated leadership and deep, intellectual commitment to policy.”

    “Sophisticated leadership”? “Intellectual commitment”? In order to cripple State education ? To replace language teachers with satellite dishes and T.Vs, then cramming 100 primary students into a single class? Sophisticated, my arse! If that farce of an exercise (which only survived some three months before disappearing) was intellectually sound, Roskam really should seek clinical help. Then his fellow “Queer-coot”, James Paterson pops up with the hysterical notion that Western Capitalism is better at protecting the environment than a “Command” economy! Psst, James heard of Bhopal? Heard of Fukushima, Three Mile Island, Exxon Valdez, Libby Montana, Gulf of Mexico, and of course you’ve heard of Agent Orange?
    Welcome to the parallel universe of the Tobacco, Murdoch and Rinehart mining sponsored IPA.

  18. whatismore

    Why do I think of the Hitler Youth movement and Mao’s cultural revolution?!

  19. mikestasse

    “the generous welfare safety net provided to current generations will be simply unsustainable in the future….Change is inevitable.”

    You realise of course that they are RIGHT this time……….. of course, they want US to pay for THEIR f’ups….. but I’m having none of it.

    Globally, pensions and superannuations and other ‘entitlements’ have been “overpromised” to the tune of $100 Trillion. Yes, with a T! All that ‘wealth’ is actually debt. Just like all the other ‘wealth’ we pretend we are entitled to.

    Great change is coming alright…… watch this space.

  20. Maureen

    Thank you Kay Lee. Your article is important because thanks to the IPA and their donors, and Tony Abbott’s complicity, Australia is now being molded into a ‘Libertarian’ free market social Darwinist economy (not society they don’t believe in society). Where its everyman for himself, where the worthy rise to the top and are rewarded, and the unworthy sink to the bottom and are punished, where it is survival of the fittest!

    The dangerous part of this is that in their minds this is how it should be.

  21. Fed up

    We are at last seeing what the strings are. I am afraid we still do not know, who or what the puppeteer is.

    What is behind the farce that is now occurring in this country.

    Much that is happening, is not good for general business.

  22. Totaram

    Obviously we need to tighten up the definition of a “charity”. Can anyone name one single “charitable” act carried out by the IPA? Similarly, charities should be doing strictly their charitable works and should be separated from the affiliated “churches” which should lose their tax-free status. I am amazed at the tax-free profits of the catholic church ( as revealed in the Royal commission). I’m sure other religious “churches” are getting away with similar amounts of tax-free money, which they do not necessarily employ for “charitable” works. Proslytising and propaganda are NOT charitable works by any measure. One positive action we can all take is to lobby our elected representatives to see that this matter is sorted out.

  23. mars08

    At the end of the 20th Century a bunch of creepy “intellectuals” gained far too much influence in Washington, DC. They had big ideas too. Whenever I mentioned these people to my friends, I invariably got treated to their shrugs and rolling eyes. Because… ummmm…. that’s all just conspiracy nonsense. It doesn’t happen in the real world. After all, why would a democratically elected government adopt the schemes of some obscure think tank????

    Here’s the first para (from wiki) of the American “intellectual” group in question. Tell me if they sound familiar:

    The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI) is a private, conservative, partisan, not-for-profit institution dedicated to research and education on issues of government, politics, economics and social welfare…. stated mission is “to defend the principles and improve the institutions of American freedom and democratic capitalism—limited government, private enterprise, individual liberty and responsibility, vigilant and effective defense and foreign policies, political accountability, and open debate”.

  24. TimePasser

    Kaye Lee, maybe these young people have been specifically chosen for their youth and university degrees (however inappropriate) in order to, sort of, attract other young people to the philosophy of this questionable organisation…

  25. Matt James

    Watch Paul Sheehan and Miranda Devine have a meal ticket with this: I hate to admit it but every now and then I catch myself playing out megalomaniac retribution fantasies in my head where I make up the law as I go along when I feel like it and a recuring banishment/punishment for my foes evil doing involves sending them all to work at the very bottom of the feeding chain in an African Diamond mine like the one in the following link. The kind of jerks who draft these reforms focus their productivity darlec at the either workers or the disabled ‘faking it’. And it is these University students (amazing how many climate change deniers went to uni) are more than worthy ‘working holiday in South Africa’ first prize winners. Only drawback, they get to savoir the prize until they drop dead.

  26. Bennett

    I am more than a little intrigued by the timing between the collapse of strong Left wing ideologies, and the co-incidental rise of the strong right wing economic model that has come to dominate Western, and in particular Anglo economic thinking. Please excuse my politically naivety, but it appears that, after the end of the Second War and the raising of the Iron Curtain, the monied classes tolerated democratic socialism as a means to counter the distorted promises of Communism. Upon the coming to power of Regan and Thatcher, and the collapse of the Communist economic model, democratic socialism has been pushed/forced aside and Anglo economies are retreating to a Dickensian model of society, with all the trappings of Capitalism Rampant, and the devil taking the poor and less well off?
    Was it H. Wilson who said we “Should Beware of the unacceptable face of Capitalism”.
    Perhaps there is too much suspicion of a conspiracy in this train of thought, but the disappointment in the failure of Australia to plan in the long term, the ever ready excuse that “we cannot afford it”, when in fact we cannot afford to not do it, (rail, education, NBN), will leave Australia as a poor, third rate power in a fast developing area of the world. I hate to think that Lee Kwan Yew was correct.

  27. Stephen Tardrew

    Greatd point Bennet.

  28. Matters Not

    Cloud said:

    wouldn’t call having an Arts degree and being part-way through a PhD ‘well qualified’

    Cloud, when I, or anyone else for that matter, ‘write’ it’s reasonable to suggest that we have an intention to convey a ‘meaning’. At the same time, I accept that I have no control over the ‘meaning’ you give to my words. Indeed, it would be silly to suggest otherwise.

    As for:

    Certainly not well qualified to make the kinds of policy reccomendations (sic) the IPA is making. And I say this as somebody who is doing an Arts degree

    Perhaps I should have said that Berg et al have demonstrated academic capabilities writ large (and they have) but as you suggest that’s not necessarily being ‘well qualified’ in the policy sense.

    But that leads us into other territory. Crucial as it may be.

    As for your own academic pursuits, can I congratulate and urge to continue same.

  29. mars08

    We don’t have a looming economic crisis as much as a current priorities crisis…

  30. Fed up

    One thing they cannot see, is the possibility that they could have it wrong. They seem so sure that they know all, and cannot understand why others disagree.

    They see all government spending as debt, There money being used to prop up the no hopers in society. They must really believe all can provide for themselves.

    This is spite of all the evidence around them, that this is not true.

    Cannot be true.

    Pure capitalism is made up of winners and losers. Very few winners, and many losers.

    Of boom and bust.

    They see the worker as being a drag on the profits of industry.

    Others, those on the left it seems, sees government expenditure, including supporting those with, needs, as an investment in the future.

    Yes, industry needs well educated, health and fit workers, to keep the wheels going.

    No employer ever made money, without the worker producing the goods they deal in. Yes, it takes capital and labour, for productivity to grow., Yes, the booms and busts need to be even out.

    Yes, new technology and change must be supported nby the state.

    A society is a place, where all supprt one another. Nothing strange abut that.

    All are expected to contribute according to their means.

    In this world, we are all in it together.

    Yes, through taxation and other payments to our government, the infrastructure in human capital, new technology and communications are pyut in place, to allow all to prosper.

    No, this is not socialism It is just common sense.

    Even the pension we pay people, who are no longer able to support themselves is not debt, is not waste.

    All comes back to the government, as they spend it to feed and house themselves,. Yes, provides jobs for many.

    One should not look at government outlays, as money spent with no return.

    One should judge government expenditure, as top whether it will bring a return back to the government., Yes, create new wealth.

    It is not a matter of whether we can afford livable pensions, Gonski, NBN CO and NDIS.

    It is a matter of whether we can affords not to spend the money.

    I live in a home a little more than a decade old. Thanks to developers taking the cheapest way out, I have rusted gutting and a leaking roof. Yes, Mr., Abbott, it is not a given, that industry will always do the right thing by the customer.

    Now there is no way I can afford to fix it at this time.

    Trouble is, if I do not find the money some how, the cost idss goping to be greater down the track.

    The same thing applies to carbon emission, and putting the latest and best technology in place with broadband. It will cost to delay both.

    The reality is, that government industry, labour and the community all contribute to the economy.

    Since the days of Hawke, we have seen that the economy benefits by labour and capital working together. Yes, labour working through their unions. Funny that.

    Yes, it is possible, Abbott’s RC and such, is going to find corruption.

    In fact we know it exists,.

    The corruption will be some union officials and and some corporations, working together, to rip off workers and other companies.

    There will be many more big businessmen go down the gurgler, than unions.

    We can choose to live in a civil society,orf a economy.

    I choose a civil society.

    I an sick of hearing about dent and deficits, as if that is all one judges the economy and the well being of the nation by.

    We are being conned. The question one should ask, is how one of the wealthiest nations, among the lowest taxed and government expenditure, cannot afford to invest in the future,.

    They have no answer to this one.

    We can afford to do so.

    In fact, if we do not, we will go backwards.

    I am not sure who that benefits.

  31. Terry2

    the Newman government in Queensland has been thrown into disarray – doesn’t take much.

    They’ve been busy spinning the dire need to self off public assets to pay of Labor’s debt. Then along comes Joe – Hockey that is – and says, ‘don’t worry about paying off debt, sell all the assets, stick the money into roads and tunnels and I’ll top it all up with a 15% bonus: after all, we do have an infrastructure Prime Minister who needs to leave a legacy – stuff the debt’ .

    All that spin for nothing.

  32. Fed up

    conspiracy, is the word I could not recall. Conspiracy between some union officials and corporations, will be the corruption found in Abbott’s witch hunt. Most of it, back in the past.

    Not sure abut NSW though. I wonder how Packer has managed to get so much to go his way. Even to the point of removing l;ow income housing from the area.

  33. jasonblog

    Berg’s going from what to what? RMIT? Hmmm… sounds dodgy…

  34. Dan Rowden

    I wonder if we examined the “qualifications” of the Union leaders that control so much of Labor policy and factional dynamics whether we’d come up with anything more impressive. Never mind, that question is basically rhetorical.

  35. Konstantina Vlahos

    Kaye Lee, I cannot say how grateful I am for your articles.

    Also, I have a B.A as well – sure as hell doesn’t qualify me for developing national policies or suggestions.

    Lastly, I feel personally offended that they take Gough Whitlam’s name in their mouth.

  36. Dan Rowden

    Funny, I didn’t finish high school, but I sure as hell won’t be told that disqualifies me from making a meaningful contribution to any social or cultural policy debate or discussion.

  37. Stephen Tardrew

    And here is another pleasant story about the state of European Banks. They can now use depositors funds though its appears to be illegal. This all ties into the Global effort by bankers to shift all debts on to the public purse. Many of the banks are still too big to fail. Six years after the global financial crisis. This demonstrates just how helpless politicians are in the face of corptocracy. LNP and IPA = corptocracy.

  38. VoterBentleigh

    Yes, Kaye Lee, I heard a member of the Government say that none of the Opposition had been in business, as though that was a necessary qualification to be a Government Minister and formulate economic policy, yet the IPA members you mention are apparently well qualifiesd to formulate economic policy without any such credentials.

    But on the matter of who writes some of the things the LNP prosletise, one can only wonder in amazement about who wrote the speech the PM made re the Governor-General’s reception (Thanks “Fed Up” for the link). I do note, too, that the IPA do not have the reintroduction of knighthoods on their list!

    Must also agree with Mars08’s comment (30 March, 9.22pm). The LNP are also adopting the US Conservative style of politics, which is crass and deliberately aims to be affronting.

  39. Cloud

    Dan Rowden, the issue is that these guys at the IPA aren’t just making a ‘meaningful contribution’ to a policy discussion. They’re suggesting radical reforms which would completely and drastically change Australia’s economy and society. More worrisome still is the fact they have the ear of the people running our country and the financial backing of some of the richest people in the world.

  40. Dan Rowden


    Ever was it so. Why are we talking about the IPA as if it’s something new or different?

  41. David Giles

    Well said, Cloud. On qualifications, (addressing Dan and others), I think the point Kaye Lee was trying to make was that the IPA people do not have qualifications relevant to putting together a radically new version of Australia. More importantly, it keeps striking me as somehow fraudulent that all of these right-wing think-tanks – or more properly, PR departments – call themselves ‘Institutes’ and give their employees the lofty title of ‘Fellow’. This is all about applying a veneer of academic credibility to people who are out and out ideologues and in whose heads the idea of rigorous academic testing of ideas before imposing them on an unsuspecting public would simply never occur.

    The IPA 75-point plan is the most radical document I have seen in a long time and will quite simply hand power to the very rich and trash what we think of as the society we cherish. The fair go is anathema to these people; frankly, if you haven’t had the good sense to choose rich parents who can leave you millions or preferably billions, then you deserve to fall to the bottom of the heap. That sounds like hyperbole – but those of us who care about social justice have got to start exposing these people and matching the volume of all their shouting with some raised voices of our own.

    Abbott was not elected with a mandate to change the face of this country – but he will claim it and do untold damage if we remain politely supine. Take a look at the IPA list – it is absolutely chilling and I have begun to feel that the new government is staging a coup. For the record, Tony Abbott has started to move on TWENTY-FIVE of the 75 points already. One point they have yet to begin is their wish to remove any limit to political donations and to end public money being given to candidates. This is exactly the REVERSE of what we need – in the USA, this has been a total disaster, giving undreamt of power to the Koch Brothers and their gang of plutocrats. I have never before felt this alarmed. This makes Thatcher seem mild. Thank God for the March in March – those of us who see the potential for harm now know we are not alone. The people always have the numbers – so it’s time to wake up en masse and make our voices heard.

    Am I hysterical? No, friends, I am deadly serious. The LNP have invented a foe for a wedge of the population to hate (refugees); they are undermining the authority of Parliament (the Speaker has no business attending Liberal Party meetings, and yet she does and is blatantly biased); they are creating commissions of review stacked with people who will say just what they want to hear; and they’re tearing down everything they can without any solid policies of their own. The idea that any government can abolish 10,000 regulations in one Act may look like a great blow for freedom from red tape – but those rules were considered before they were enacted and should be considered before they are undone. Who knows what is hidden in the detail?

    The agenda of the far right in the US which we are now in danger of importing here is to make the people feel that Government in and of itself is bad and that ‘freedom’ comes in a sort of capital-led free for all, with low taxes and every man for himself (women are not relevant to these people). It is an ugly version of society and a massive step backwards. Mrs Thatcher said she wanted a return of Victorian values – and in a few years there were beggars back on the streets of cities, so she got her wish, but perhaps no in quite the way she expected. I do not want to see the brutality of compassion-free America played out here. All of us have to take a stand.

  42. Stephen Tardrew

    David Giles:

    To me there is no doubt about it. There are too many comparisons with the Republicans and elements of the Tea Party that quite frankly scare the crappers out of me. That is why I posted those links about bankers because this is truly an attempt at global governmental corptocracy. The TPP trade agreement and all that goes with it is par for the course. There is a similar trade agreement being negotiated between the UK and US.

    We need to think globally as well as locally as the IPA and LNP are the Australian chapter of global conservative infrastructure. It is not a conspiracy but a well organized attempt to maximize corporate control of governance.

  43. Stuart Errol Anderson

    I wonder how much overlap there is between the IPAs list and the ideas that came out of last years secret get together. Green Left Weekly had an article last August ,

    “And so, the Sunday Telegraph reported in June on behind-closed-doors meetings of the rich and powerful to hammer out some policy plans away from the prying eyes of us plebs: “Major Australian personalities including James Packer, John Howard and Cardinal George Pell — plus a minor British royal — have been giving political pep-talks to Liberal MPs during secret luncheon meetings held across Sydney.

    The exclusive, invite-only gatherings, known as the Chartwell Society, aim to “critically evaluate policy”, the group’s organiser, Liberal MP David Elliott, told the Sunday Telegraph.

    The “precise nature of the discussions are kept strictly confidential”. Elliot said this was “Chatham House rules because it’s important that MPs can have a full and frank discussion with prominent Australians … so we don’t go into the lawmaking business with our heads in the sand”.

    And how can we trust the Labor party to do the right thing when Bill Shorten is a close friend and best man to John Roskam. (Referring to the link supplied by Matters Not at the start of comments)?

  44. Kaye Lee


    Educational qualifications should never be a barrier to taking part in debate or discussion, but these kids are fronting Senate Committee hearings saying they know better than Finkelstein for example. It’s like when Cardinal Pell felt qualified to advise a senate committee on climate change. The link provided to Doug Cameron grilling Berg is embarrassing. They certainly have the right to be part of the debate….I do not think they have sufficient knowledge or experience to be fronting Senate committees.

  45. Auricle

    I don’t care that Berg has only a Bachelor’s degree and hasn’t completed his PhD. I want to know what he’s been doing between 2004 and 2013 besides pontificating for the IPA. I get the impression he’s another Tim Wilson… You remember him. He’s the one who’s never held down a real job for any length of time.

  46. MSM Watchdog

    Thought this might be of interest & relevance re The Shadowy World of IPA Finances. It is from 24/2/2012 but it is still definitely worth looking into.

  47. Kaye Lee

    Very informative thanks MSMW,

    “In 1987 the IPA restructured itself as a company limited by guarantee, which means that its directors are not liable for any debts it might incur. The restructure enabled it to apply to become an Approved Research Institute (ARI) and thus be eligible for endorsement as a deductible gift recipient (DGR). In other words, donors to the Institute would be able to claim a tax deduction for their donations. DGR status is the most valuable asset of an organisation like the IPA because without it virtually no-one would donate.

    In order for the IPA to become a DGR it had to apply to the Secretary of what is now the Federal Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research giving various undertakings.

    Most importantly, it had to undertake to use all tax-deductible donations exclusively for scientific research, more particularly, “scientific research which is, or may prove to be, of value to Australia”. In this context, the authorities have ruled that “scientific research” includes social scientific research.

    The IPA also had to undertake to create a separate bank account into which all tax-deductible gifts must be deposited. The Institute’s financial statements show that it keeps some of its cash in an account called “NAB Research Account”. On June 30, 2010 it held $385,647.

    It must also ensure that all disbursements from this research account are evaluated and approved by “a suitably qualified research committee” of at least five members, the majority of whom are appropriately qualified in the field of research that is to be undertaken or have appropriate experience in reviewing research, and who should be nominated on the basis of their “proven ability to direct a research program”. As far as I can tell, the IPA has not made public the membership of its research committee.

    The rules state explicitly that tax-deductible funds may not be used for “the organisation of conferences, congresses and symposia and the publication of information (other than the results of the ARI’s own research work, undertaken through this program).”

    All of this raises the question of whether donations to the IPA for which the donor has claimed a tax deduction are being used in compliance with the law.

    The IPA has devoted considerable resources to staging public meetings to campaign against the Federal Government’s carbon tax. In the year to June 30, 2010 it hosted 40 events around the country. This is clearly a political campaign; in no sense could these activities be called scientific research. So were the public meetings funded from tax deductible gifts? Did the Institute’s research committee approve spending on these events? It may well be that they were funded from other sources, but we can’t tell because of the IPA’s lack of disclosure.

    Similar questions can be asked about the series of seminars the IPA is conducting in northern Australia to build support for a special economic zone. It would be hard to defend these activities as “scientific research”. The funds, it would seem, are being spent on “the organisation of conferences, congresses and symposia” on which tax-deductible gifts may not be spent.

    Last year the IPA paid for two full-page advertisements in the Australian attacking the Government’s climate change policy. The cost would have been in the order of $100,000. Who paid for them? Were they paid for with tax deductible gifts?”

  48. Stephen Tardrew

    Kaye while I fully agree that IPA’s use of DGR should be investigated by ATO however they still have very deep pockets. The question remains how do progressives counter political influence of the corporate sector. Removal of DGR would be an annoyance however you can guarantee they would find other sources of capital. From my memory to get DGR the organization must assist in the alleviation of poverty and hardship, or words of the like, yet it is interesting to see groups like the IPA getting special privileges. Maybe there are other clauses for special interest groups.

    The Chatwell Society mirrors the Bildaberg Group which provides a well funded forum for international capital through the corporate and financial sectors.. IPA, ALEC and their like are unavoidable the thing is how to minimize their influence. It must be admitted that the left does not have the vast resources of a corporate sector that is aligned with the LNP. As has been demonstrated in the US money does buy influence and votes.

    This is one hell of a nut cracker for the left. We must partially rely upon public protest. In Australia we need to continue our struggle and not fall into the of the complacency of the Occupy Movement. The suffering due to the financial crisis continues in the US while the power of the left has been undermined by media hype. That sort of rings a bell doesn’t it? Therefore the need for a central charter of non-obligatory issues that cover a broad spectrum of concerns is required to help focus the objectives of progressives.

    Just a few thoughts.

  49. russell

    This for those wishing to explore some of the ethos of the IPA.
    Some similarities are striking. eg

    “Think tanks and their servile PhDs are servants of the private sector; in the process they destroy the people’s democracy.’

  50. Pingback: Who writes this stuff? « The Australian Independent Media Network « SNAFU

  51. Winifred Jeavons

    Isn’t a government that only looks after the few an oligarchy? I said over 20 years ago that with the collapse of communism we needed another way. Capitalism is supposed to thrive on competition, so where is it in economic systems ?. What we call democracy is just oligarchy with pretend elections. I say pretend because true democracy depends on full information, not propaganda by newspaper barons, protecting privilege.

  52. Royce Arriso

    The IPA are a sociopathic body. The next ‘March in March’ should end at their HQ.

  53. Dan Rowden

    As bad as the IPA may be – from a leftist perspective, at least they have a list. It may be a right wing, Laissez-faire Utopian wish-list, but at least it’s a list. What do we have? I propose that we make our own damn list. We can collate and vet and send the result to Albo. No point sending it to Bill as I suspect he won’t give much of a crap. Ok, I’ll start:

    * Indicates ideas where money will be saved/generated to pay for other measures.
    ** Indicates where shitloads of money will be saved/generated to pay for other measures.

    (1) Tell the Queen to f* off. *
    (2) Change the Constitution to reflect (1) and include a charter of human rights.
    (3) Abolish State Governments, whilst reassuring Glen Lazarus that State of Origin footy will remain, and Queenslanders that cockroaches will always be inferior to cane toads. **
    (4) Recognise Local Councils in the Constitution in accordance with (3).
    (5) Legislate a proper Mining/Resources Tax. **
    (6) Make the use of offshore tax havens illegal. **
    (7) Remove all tax exemptions for religious organisations. *
    (8) Make Paul Keating President.
    (9) Legislate to stop large corporations like Coles and Woolworths from owning everything that isn’t nailed down.
    (10) Cease off-shore processing and indefinite detention for asylum seekers and meet all the demands of the articles of the Refugee Convention, whilst offering a reward of $100,000 for any person who can satisfactorily answer the question: How many refugees should we accept? **
    (11) Introduce a floating ETS.
    (12) Institute a Government system for the provision of geriatric and childcare in a similar way to the public/private health and education sectors.
    (13) Grant a full pension to the profoundly disabled from age 16.
    (14) Make karaoke compulsory.
    (15) Redefine marriage in all relevant acts to recognise same sex relationships.
    (16) Increase Newstart Allowance and rent assistance for pensioners.
    (17) Increase Tertiary Education subsidies on a means tested basis (study feasibility of free tertiary education).
    (18) Forgive all current Hecs Debts subject to (17)
    (19) End all corporate welfare wherein no demonstrable benefit to the community exists. **
    (20) Increase funding for Legal Aid services.
    (21) Provide pensioner travel and other concessions to Newstart recipients.
    (22) Nationalise all prisons.
    (23) Nationalise electricity, gas and water.
    (24) Reinstate Ministry for Science
    (25) Review reinstatement of all advisory boards dumped by the Abbott Government.
    (26) Scrap Australian of the Year award.
    (27) Introduce Gonski reforms.
    (28) Raise personal income tax rates by 2% *
    (29) Review tax evasion lurks. *
    (30) Return to in-hospital training for nurses and free RNs up from reporting demands so they nurse at the bedside not the computer terminal.
    (31) Apply a Super Profits Tax to the banks to fund social programmes such as increased mental health care. *
    (32) Make cigarettes available on doctor’s prescription only. Increase funding to quit programmes. Make the provision of tobacco products to minors a criminal offence.
    (33) Make declaration of food product trans-fat content mandatory.
    (34) Move Australia Day to May 9.
    (35) Scrap Queen’s Birthday
    (36) Make October 6 a public holiday.
    (37) Rescind all current rights for British subjects who are not citizens to enroll and vote in Australian Federal elections and referenda (if they’re not all already dead).
    (38) Restore pain clinic, physiotherapy and other out-patient services to public hospitals.
    (40) Institute a proper scientific environmental impact study of CSG production.
    (41) Raise legal drinking age back to 21.

    Ok, that’s a start. What else are we going to do?

  54. Bacchus

    That idea may be worthy of a post of its own Dan…

    I’ll add:
    (42) Place into indefinite mandatory detention anyone who advocates even allowing karaoke in public 🙂
    (43) Decriminalise the use of all drugs – treat drug addiction as a medical, not a legal problem.
    (44) Make all currently illegal drugs available only to registered users and only from public health clinics.
    (44) Introduce life sentences for anyone involved in the supply of drugs outside of these health clinics.

  55. Stephen Tardrew

    Good to know Michael.

  56. Stephen Tardrew

    Dan you da Man.

  57. Don Winther

    (45) 30% export duty on live animal export.

  58. Don Winther

    ( 46 ) Ban live animal exports

  59. mars08

    (47) Introduce compulsory national service.

  60. Don Winther

    (48) No GST on Australian Made products.

  61. Michael Taylor

    Bacchus, that idea has already been considered. Just need to get a law assignment out of the way first.

  62. mars08

    (49) Ban the Daily Telegraph from printing anything but sports and celebrity gossip stories. And maybe Sudoku puzzles.

  63. Barry Tucker

    “Ever was it so. Why are we talking about the IPA as if it’s something new or different?”

    Dan Rowden: We are talking about it because we have only recently become aware of it, although it has been there since the mid-1940s. It lapsed, then underwent a revival. I intend to look at exactly when and why.

    We are also talking about it because of the frequent appearance of IPA mouthpieces on ABC programs. It is astounding that these people imagine themselves to have an expert opinion on each and every social policy that any moderator can dredge up for discussion. I cannot believe that ABC managing director Mark Scott (himself a Liberal) is unaware of who and what the IPA is. There is little obvious evidence of balance to the frequent appearance of the IPA. Where else are they putting their message across?

    It is interesting (and extremely annoying) that former IPA spokesperson Tim Wilson is now spruking for the IPA from within the Human Rights Commission. I don’t imagine he has put his IPA dogma aside. A nice pay-off for his work in undermining the previous socialist progressive government.

    How many more IPA apparatchiks will turn up in lucrative positions, pushing their propaganda at the public’s expense?

    Incidentally, the ANDEV referred to by the author was not explained. You can find links in this Google search result:

  64. Matters Not

    Don said:

    No GST on Australian Made products

    Perhaps, but if we really want to get ahead of the game we should be thinking about ‘intellectual property’ and incentives to safeguard same. Are you aware that the ‘power strip’ (has many names) which most, if not all, have in their homes was invented in Australia but was not ‘patented’? The ‘device’ was invented in 1972 by Australian electrical engineer Peter Talbot working for an Australian company called Kambrook.

    ‘Twas a big, big mistake. Kambrook made very little while Asian ‘copiers’ made squillions.

    By and large Australians are pretty well educated and we have a very good history re innovation ranging from agricultural implements to ear implants, but we have a very poor history re protecting such intellectual property.

    China has already overtaken the USA re ‘patent applications’ because they offer all types of financial incentives, broadly defined to protect their ‘intellectual property’. They not only talk the talk but they also walk the walk, in contrast to Australia where we talk in terms of ‘clever country’ but do SFA.

    If anyone is interested in what we might do, consider ‘patent box’ rules. Here’s a link, not that many people read links.

    What is important to recognise is that the current R&D tax incentives don’t have an impact past the R&D stage. And yet it is the next stages of development, the commercialisation and production stages, that have historically received no incentive to remain in Australia.

    When it comes to R&D commercialisation, intellectual property and human capital is moving offshore to take advantage of low tax jurisdictions. Statistics have revealed that in 2011, for example, Australian residents filed 8,557 patent applications overseas but just 2,600 patent applications in Australia

  65. Stephen Tardrew

    Great point matters Not. It seems that forever it has been so.

  66. Matters Not

    And for those who think that the Chinese only make ‘cheap’ crap:

    California’s lower house approved financing for a new railway line that will link the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles at an estimated cost of $68 billion. China’s Ministry of Railways had announced that Chinese companies would form a group to enter the bidding.

    “One of the favorite bids for the project has come from a Chinese consortium, and it is China which has built more high-tech, high-speed railway links than anyone else in the last year,” BBC News reported in 2011 about China’s bids.

    Professor Richard White from Stanford University, was quoted in the same report as saying that “the way they are talking about building it now will be American labor laying the tracks, but heavy investments in Chinese technology and even trying to get inputs of Chinese capital.

    “It’s as if the Pacific has suddenly switched over in 150 years.”


    In 2012, China’s State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) granted more patents than any other patent office in the world, including the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Those 1.26 million Chinese patents represented a 31% increase over the number granted in 2011. But that’s just the beginning. China’s government has set a goal of granting 2 million patents per year by 2015, something former USPTO Director David Kappos called “mind blowing,” but a target many believe is realistic. Moreover, almost 80% of China’s patents were awarded to domestic applicants in 2012, while fewer than 50% of all U.S. patents went to U.S. citizens

    Yes I know, in Australia, under Abbott, we think that the ‘state’ has no role in the world of business. Leave it to the ‘market’ and all that.

  67. Michael Faulkner

    It is perhaps useful to view the IPA as a sheltered workshop of sorts, for people whose limited experience of Wider Australian culture becomes obvious in their cloistered writings.

    It is a little ‘ gated community’ which falsely proclaims that it’s agenda is about public discourse, issues, public affairs, when it’s obsession is certainly not about the common good in society, but the rights of some but not all individuals within it.

    Certainly, with generous funding from wealthy corporations, it is indeed sheltered.

    Consistent with its organisational title (misnomer ), its proclaimed emphasis on free speech is denied on its website. It’s seems there is no place for open or robust discourse there.
    Of course, you can email some of its principal writers, but there is little that is free about that.

  68. Revolution Calling

    Abbott and his clowns – like almost every other PM before him – are a disgraceful band of psychopaths and sociopaths, utterly free of the conscience that governs the rest of Australian society therefore, they don’t need qualifications to screw our nation up any further.

    Our nation will never be truly free while the current – and corrupt – two party political system remains unchallenged….sooooo…..when does the revolution begin?

    Give me the Molmutine Laws of pagan Britain anytime. That’ll soon wipe our nation clean of self-serving mongrels at the helm.

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