Just who the hell are the IPA?

This must-read article is cross-posted with the kind permission of Noely of YaThink? Thank you, Noely!

“History repeats itself – the robber barons of the Middle Ages and the robber barons of today.”

(Credit: Eyewitnesstohistory)

Now, I often enjoy The Drum, though was always annoyed by the “IPA Fellows” that would appear on a very regular basis as guests. These self-assured, clean-cut gentleman (always men…) seem to be experts on everything.

I am not a stupid woman by any means, not a rocket scientist, but not a moron either and the use of the word “fellows” meant that I assumed they were associated with some sort of academic organisation or university. To be perfectly frank, I felt absolutely stupid to be condescendingly told on Twitter, “Well, what do you expect from a right wing think tank paid for by big business?” Like most adults who feel they have been made a fool of, I was angry. I do pay more attention to the news than the average person out in the burbs, so if I was not aware of this group and their influence, well obviously millions of Australians who will be voting in September don’t either. This is a major concern.

I have tried to educate myself: hopefully what I have learned from others and just plain old punter research on the interwebz could help you as well if you were not aware of the existence of this group and who the hell they are, particularly considering if you read Mr Abbott’s Address to Institute of Public Affairs 70th Anniversary Dinner, Melbourne and need to know just who it is that will seem to have so much influence on public policy when the Liberals take control of Government with Mr Abbott as Prime Minister come September.*

The Institute of Public Affairs (IPA)
The Institute of Public Affairs is an independent, non-profit public policy think tank, dedicated to preserving and strengthening the foundations of economic and political freedom. Read more about who the IPA says they are: IPA here…

Crikey actually has a full topic onsite for the The Institute of Public Affairs.

Independent Australia has many references to the IPA – this one from 2011 is still relevant today Crackers #4: The Institute of Public Smokescreens.

Sourcewatch, who call themselves the Center for Media and Democracy, describe the IPA a little differently, though I have to admit I find it astonishing that a think tank in Australia has made the grade on a US site! SPN: Aiding ALEC & Spinning Disinformation in the States.

The shadowy world of IPA finances
I have no idea why the IPA Annual Reports stop at 2009/10 as a quick read does not tell us who is funding them at all or anything silly like that. Which is odd, considering they are such free speech advocates. Clive Hamilton wrote an article that raised some very serious questions in regard to IPA finances, quite rightly suggesting that the Tax Commissioner should be having a peek at the IPA books: The shadowy world of IPA finances.

IPA Media Influence
These men (only a few women on the website and we don’t tend to see them on TV) are everywhere. I know I am missing some links to very good articles in regard to their media influence, so please, if you know of what that should be included below, email it to me.

As far back as 2001 the ABC did an exposé on the IPA and their motives: Stuart Littlemore – Institute Of Public Affairs – ABC TV 2001.

Independent Australia clearly showed how the IPA has insinuated itself with the exact same TV station that was investigating them a decade previously, yet nothing has changed with the IPA and its manifesto – which means the ABC has? ABC Drums up appearances for the IPA.

Barry Tucker also has a big reminder about no scrutiny of Mr Abbott in the mainstream media and the influence of the IPA: The most important vote in a lifetime.

IPA “fellows” (literally LOL! As I have stated, they are all men who get the high profile gigs) also appear as commentators on Sky News many times a week in various programming times, PM Agenda, Contrarians, etc. Besides The Drum, they also pop up on Q&A and other so-called news or political programmes on the ABC. Hell, I have even seen Tim Wilson from the IPA give comment on channel 10’s The Project. They are everywhere – just look for the clean-cut, well-mannered, articulate young man who is the epitome of what a Young Liberal should look and sound like…

IPA Policy Influence
Again, I know there are many articles online about this. I have included a few below ranging from ex-journalist now blogger Barry Tucker to author, writer, radio show host and comedienne, Wendy Harmer…

Feel free to email me any other references you think should be below.

Most important is an article on the IPA’s site itself, reading this is imperative to see the plans the IPA have for this country: Be like Gough: 75 radical ideas to transform Australia.

Keep in mind, “long-serving director of the IPA” Mr Rupert Murdoch of News Ltd fame operates approx 70% of the media in this country.

We can’t forget the “Troppo Tony” news articles a few months ago … we laughed … we should not have. Mrs Rinehart and the IPA have big plans for Northern Australia: Book Launch – “Northern Australia and then some” by Mrs Gina Rinehart. Yes, at the time of the “leaked” plan Vision 2030 the book launch for Mrs Rinehart’s book was being promoted on the front page of the IPA website!

Barry Tucker wrote a very good article: IPA agenda to re-shape Australia.

Wendy Harmer’s John Laws? I’ve Got Bigger Fish To Fry quite rightly asks: “Does the odious “cash for comment” culture persist in the national public discourse? Do you know where “opinion” is coming from and who is paying for it?”

Thanks to Christopher Wright ‏@ChristopherWr11 who reminded me of the following:

I think its biggest recent policy impact has been in seeding climate change denial in Australia (see this piece from the SMH: The benefit of the doubt.

There are academic studies charting the history of the IPA and its influence in promoting conservative and more recently neo-liberal causes. Here is one such study: Australian Neoliberal Think Tanks and the Backlash against the Welfare State.

This Fascist Mob by Shane Cahill has a fascinating history of how the IPA came about. Thank you so much to ‏@hank_wortel for bringing it to my attention, well worth reading and well-written!

Extremely relevant contribution from Twitter’s (mine too) favourite born again journalist, Margo Kingston: Howard’s blueprint for Abbott to stifle dissent @margokingston1.

Thanks to @sloughly who always helps to find those extra references 🙂 Great article about the Executive Director of the IPA, John Roskam – The Power Index: thinkers, IPA boss John Roskam at #9. Interesting article from Climate Shifts – Institute for Public Affairs true colours: under fire from scientists over Plimer book mail out.

Articles on DESMOGBLOG.COM are concerning in regard to the IPA: James Delingpole Raising Cash for Australian Climate Sceptic Think Tank and Study Tracks Australian Climate Denial Echo Chamber Back to Think Tank. Actually, there are numbers of IPA-related articles on DESMOGBLOG, dating back many years, This one from March this year is very good: Climate Denial Think Tank’s Plans To Abolish Climate Change Departments in Australia. Thanks to @GeorgeBludger for the heads up here.

Energy without Carbon ascertains that The IPA has been at the heart of climate denial in Australia and they could be right! via @GeorgeBludger.

I know I could be paranoid: maybe I am reading too much into this organisation – I’m just a dumb punter, of course! Though as Ms Harmer states: “Watch out instead for the IPA and their like – the white pointers in the shallows. Their bite can be fatal.”

Noely @YaThinkN

*Yes yes I know that we actually have that inconvenience of getting out on the Saturday to actually vote for our Federal Representatives, but every single media outlet and political commentator is telling me that I really should not bother as Mr Abbott is our PM in waiting. Silly me, think I might actually cast my vote for MY CHOICE as is my civic right, regardless. I suggest you do too!

481 thoughts on “Just who the hell are the IPA?

  1. BK,

    I seriously considered emailing you the link for inclusion in your Dawn Posting tomorrow. But it was too important to wait.

    One positive thought: it’s good to see Catherine Deveney writing for an organisation that will value her properly.

  2. fiona
    I’m still seething.
    And to think Pell was cheek to cheek with Abbott at the IPA love-in!

  3. Fiona:

    That article has made my blood boil! Who do these people think they are?

    Seriously angry now!!

  4. fiona

    I’ll be a little oblique here. Sorry. the short and long answer is a frivolous reference to standard C’wlth legal advice.

    My father was a true Roman Catholic believer except he didn’t believe in ‘infallibility’ – the pope was wrong on contraception in his opinion. He was quite about his beliefs and none of me or my siblings got more than a good dose of Christian Morals.

    [Until my early 30s, I could not understand how anybody could bring themselves to kill another person]

    But protect what’s ‘yours’ is not a foreign concept at all. I have a very extended family here and some over there. It’s strong in the country and not yet faded in the city.

    The family bond is not easily broken.

    I doubt that I’ve been any help!

  5. While on this ghastly topic, BK …

    It is essential to remember that the Catholic church – even if most likely the worst offender – is not alone. I hope that many here have read David Hill’s account of his years at the Fairbridge Farm School near Molong, NSW – and his poor mother was the one who sent him and his siblings to this place of torment, believing the hype that had been fed to her. How she must have felt when she found out what was really happening I do not know.

  6. fiona
    I agree – they weren’t the only ones, but they are grossly over-represented.
    How could ANYONE begin to defend the actions and cover-ups described in that article?

  7. BK,

    It would be too dreadful to contemplate which cheeks might be in close proximity.


    Yes, I do understand – now.

  8. I’d agree with that comment, Jaycee. I thought that clip you showed from A Little Night Music was superb, and Glynis Johns really suited the song.

    I had Eydie on a CD I got from Sam’s for $1.97. I began with a clarinet version of that song, then various amazing songs from the ages, including Judy Garland’s Over Te Rainbow and Marilyn Monroe’s I want to Be Loved By You, before the final number of Eydie.

    One of the best cheapos I ever got, albeit I did score some very good classical music..

  9. GD. I like the Judy Collins version not necessarily for her style (a little “toneless” perhaps?) but the symphonic backing is grand..particually the [clarinet?] I found quite haunting…..there is a violin solo in the background of a version I have of Delibes “Flower Duet” (I believe it is the version used by British Airways) that I find most sensuous and alluring.

  10. It is essential to remember that the Catholic church – even if most likely the worst offender – is not alone.

    They aren’t the only or worst offender, but there is a long history of catholic abuses over and above other institutions.

    I’m sorry, but this topic just makes my blood boil. Even more so because of the pious arrogance of catholic leaders like Pell, who exude an entitlement mentality through every pore. It is sickening.

  11. John Hanna ‏@John_Hanna 43m
    I’m still trying to imagine @tonyabbottmhr doing this China gig.
    It’s not happening.

    I can’t imagine it either.

  12. Confessions,


    First worst: family members

    Second worst: trusted family friends (which includes clergy, teachers, scoutmasters, etc etc etc …)

    But this RC is about the institutions that offend – because they are at one and the same time the ones best able to hide behind the corporate veil, and the ones (mostly) best able to provide monetary compensation whether in the form of damages and/or in the form of counselling/other support as long as the victims need it (such duration NOT to be determined by the offending institution).

  13. Oh dear. Lib incubator on twitter:

    SULC ‏@SydneyUniLibs 14m
    “so great that blackfellas are now on prime time” Darren Dale, producer of Redfern Now. Reverse racism is OK at the #logies? #auspol

  14. Paddy,
    Thanks for letting know Kate is feeling good about Ashgrove, she was great as Environment Minister.

    She must be concerned with Newman’s plans to allow free access to National Parks to 4 wheel drive vehicles, quad bikes etc. I have heard a local Conservation Park is going to be opened up for hunting.

  15. msadventure2

    I think there is some confusion as to access to national parks and the reallocation of forest reserves.

    The concept of hunters with guns and family campers is very frightening.

    I hope Kate wins hands down in Ashgrove

  16. Gorgeous Dunny,

    Thank you – beautiful (as is everything Yo-Yo Ma does).

    Over to the other thread now.

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