Institute of Public Affairs
The Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) is a conservative public policy think tank based in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. It advocates neoliberal economic policies such as privatisation and deregulation of state-owned enterprises, trade liberalisation and deregulated workplaces, climate change denial, the abolition of the minimum wage, and the repeal of section 18C within the Racial Discrimination Act 1975.
|Executive Director||John Roskam|
|Budget||FYE June 2017|
Level 2, 410 Collins Street
Melbourne Victoria 3000
- the war years and "immediate post-war years" where Australia's economic future was in question, ending with the election of Robert Menzies in 1949;
- the "Keynesian consensus" of the 1950s and 1960s and
- the "sea-shift to the right" of the 1970s and 1980s.
War and immediate post-war years (1943-1949)
The Institute of Public Affairs was founded in 1943 as the Institute of Public Affairs Victoria, with Charles Denton ("CD") Kemp as its inaugural director and George Coles as its inaugural chair. The founders were prominent businessmen, and current executive director John Roskam says of the occasion: "Big business created the IPA". The idea to form the Institute of Public Affairs was first floated in the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures.
The IPA's formation was prompted by the collapse of Australia's main right-wing party, the United Australia Party. The IPA's initial purpose was to influence Australia's post-war reconstruction, with business interests concerned that popular sentiment supported a Labor-led, collectivist post-war construction, a "prevailing clamour for a new kind of society".
Throughout 1943, branches were set up in NSW (May), SA (June) and Queensland (August), although the state branches remained administratively and ideologically distinct (the SA and Queensland branches closed in the 1950s). There seems to have been a pre-existing body called the Institute of Public Affairs in WA, which operated between 1941 and 1942. The IPA NSW engaged in "party political activism", while at the IPA Victoria's first annual meeting in 1944 chair GJ Coles said that they "did not wish to be directly involved in politics".
In March 1943, the head of the Commonwealth Security Service (CSS), Brigadier William Simpson requested a report into whether the newly-formed IPA had sympathies with "fascism", "counter-revolution" or the powers that Australia was at war with, but his deputy director said that its committee and sponsors were "beyond reproach".
The CSS was restructured in late 1943 and it again investigated the IPA's state branches. The IPA Queensland's radio play The Harris Family was required to be submitted to and approved by the Chief-Inspector (Wireless). The second review was completed in 1944. The CSS reported that nothing could be found to suggest that the IPA was subversive, and the war record of its supporters was "very fine", although two of the IPA NSW's council members were members of the Japan-Australia Society and one was associated with the Old Guard. The National Archives of Australia preserve the CSS' reports into each branch, as well as material collected in the course of their investigation.
In October 1944, the IPA printed 50,000 copies of Looking Forward, an 80-page booklet which set out the possibilities of post-war reconstruction. Robert Menzies described Looking Forward as "the finest statement of basic political and academic problems made in Australia for many years".
The IPA had no formal association with the formation of the Liberal Party of Australia by Menzies in 1945. Political scientist Marian Simms says that the IPA's role was to act as "an interim finance collector for non-Labor political interests", initiate "the unification of the non-Labor organizations in Victoria … and then [mediate] among them" and provide "much of the content of the federal platform of the LPA and propaganda for political campaigns". Looking Forward was influential in the Liberal Party's inaugural platform.
Norman Abjorensen credits the IPA in this period with the collapse in ALP support, saying that the IPA was "the architect of a stream of propaganda that sought, successfully, to discredit Australia's very moderate Labor Party as a socialist tiger waiting to pounce once the war had ended."
|G. J. Coles (Chairman)||Chairman of Directors, G. J. Coles & Co.|
|H. G. Darling||Chairman of Directors, The Broken Hill Pty. Co.|
|Captain C. A. M. Derham||President, Victorian Chamber of Manufacturers.|
|G. H. Grimwade||Director, Drug Houses of Australia.|
|H. R. Harper||General Manager, the Victoria Insurance Co.|
|W. A. Ince||Lawyer and Company Director.|
|F. E. Lampe||President, Australian Council of Retailers.|
|Sir Walter Massy-Greene||Company Director, with a distinguished past career in Federal politics.|
|Sir Keith Murdoch||Chairman of Directors, The Herald & Weekly Times.|
|L. J. McConnan||Chief Manager, the National Bank of A/sia.|
|Cecil N. McKay||Managing Director, H. V. McKay-Massey-Harris.|
|W. E. McPherson||Chairman of Directors, McPherson's.|
|W. I. Potter||Founder, Ian Potter & Co. (Sharebrokers).|
|A. G. Warner||Managing Director, Electronic Industries.|
Keynesian consensus (1949-1972)
During the 1950s and 1960s, the IPA "came to wholeheartedly support" Keynesian economics, with director C.D. Kemp writing "we are all socialists now". Over this period, the Institute argued for Australia's migration rate to be halved, which drew criticism from the Australian Industries Development Association and The Age. The Institute also identified inflation as a major issue, and opposed the abolition of the means test, called for lower taxes, criticised the introduction of the Trade Practices Act, advocated for fewer restraints on foreign investment and celebrated Britain joining the European Economic Community.
"Sea-shift to the right" (1972-1995)
In the 1970s, the IPA and IPA NSW cooperated to establish Enterprise Australia. This organisation had as "an immediate target … the removal of the present Labor Government in Canberra", while the IPA ostensibly stayed at arm's length in an attempt to be perceived as above party politics.
From its founding to the late 1970s, the IPA had been associated with anti-socialist Keynesian economics and protectionist industry. The appointment of Rod Kemp (CD Kemp's son) as executive director in 1982, along with other administrative changes that had occurred in the late 1970s and early 1980s, marked a shift to neo-liberal ideology that continues to this day.
In 1989, the IPA NSW – which had always been administratively and ideologically distinct – changed name to the Sydney Institute, and transitioned from neo-liberal think tank to discussion forum. The IPA NSW had a budget of $120,000 in 1985, compared to the IPA Victoria's $300,000.
Rod Kemp left his position as executive director in 1989 as he had been elected to Parliament.
In 1991, the IPA amalgamated with the Perth-based Australian Institute of Public Policy and John Hyde moved from executive director of the Australian Institute of Public Policy to executive director of the IPA. The AIPP had been founded by Hyde in 1983 as a neo-liberal think tank, and the merger brought its annual revenue of about $300,000 or $400,000 to the IPA. Hyde described the merger as "joining forces with old friends".
The IPA cooperated with the Tasman Institute on Project Victoria, which provided a blueprint for the privatisation and deregulation of the Victorian economy when Jeff Kennett became premier in 1992. The research was done with the assistance of Westpac staff seconded to work on the project.
Nahan and Roskam eras (1995- )
John Roskam replaced Mike Nahan as executive director in 2005, although he had worked at the IPA for a number of years before that.
Between 2009 and 2013, the IPA's annual revenue doubled to $3.2 million a year, an increase attributed by Roskam to the IPA's campaign against parts of the Racial Discrimination Act and the Gillard Government's media regulation proposals.
- Gina Rinehart
- Rupert Murdoch
- Tony Abbott - then Liberal Opposition Leader
- George Pell - Australian Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church (now a convicted child abuser)
- Michael Kroger - then President of the Victorian division of the Liberal Party of Australia and former director of the IPA
- Mitch Fifield - Liberal Communications Minister
- Robert Doyle - then Liberal Lord Mayor of Melbourne (later resigned in disgrace in relation to sexual harassment of a female councillor)
- Denis Napthine - then Liberal Premier of Melbourne
In August 2018, Australian Public Service Commissioner John Lloyd resigned during an investigation into correspondence he had with his former colleagues at the Institute of Public Affairs. On the day he retired, the investigation concluded that he had breached the Australian Public Service code of conduct by corresponding with the Institute of Public Affairs, but the breach did not warrant sanction. Lloyd subsequently returned to work at the IPA.
In 2018, the IPA held two dinners to celebrate its 75th anniversary. The first was sponsored by Visy Industries and took place on 21 August, the night of the first 2018 Liberal Party of Australia leadership spill. Former prime minister John Howard was interviewed at the dinner by Janet Albrechtsen about the spill, but did not explicitly support either candidate. Gina Rinehart and Rupert Murdoch praised US President Donald Trump at the dinner.
The second dinner was hosted by Crown Melbourne in November, and was hosted by Janet Albrechtsen, Andrew Bolt and Brendan O'Neill. Guests included chair of Liberal Party fundraiser the Cormack Foundation Charles Goode; former Cormack board members Hugh Morgan and John Calvert-Jones; Liberal minister Alan Tudge; and Liberal strategist Brian Loughnane.
Governance and membership
The IPA is governed by 54-55 members, also known as the IPA Council or the Council of the Institute, who are eligible to vote at the annual general meeting and to stand for board positions. These voting members are chosen by staff and the IPA board. The IPA 2003 annual report lists all 54 voting members, but subsequent annual reports do not.
The voting members are distinct from the general membership, who numbered 4,559 in 2017. Non-voting membership is open to the public, with membership fees ranging between $22 and $249 as of July 2018. Executive Director John Roskam noted in 2007 of this arrangement that: "We market it as membership but technically they are not and it is something we are aware of'". Membership has increased since 2010, when there were 826 members.
Finances and donors
The IPA is funded by its membership, which include both private individuals and businesses. It has a dual structure, with the IPA as a whole reporting revenues of $6.1 million in financial year 2017 while its charitable arm, the Institute Of Public Affairs Research Trust, reported revenue of $0.6 million.
The IPA has been significantly funded by Hancock Prospecting, of which Gina Rinehart is the Executive Chair. Hancock Prospecting paid the IPA $2.3 million in financial year 2016 and $2.2 million in financial year 2017, which represents one-third to a half of the IPA's total revenue in those years. These payments were not disclosed in IPA annual reports, and Rinehart's daughter Bianca Hope Heyward submitted in court that the Hancock Prospecting payments were credited to Rinehart in an individual capacity. Gina Rinehart was made a life member of the IPA in November 2016.
Other businesses who fund or have funded the IPA include ExxonMobil, Telstra, WMC Resources, BHP Billiton, Philip Morris, Murray Irrigation Limited, Visy Industries, Clough Engineering, Caltex, Shell, Esso and British American Tobacco (BAT).
The Institute of Public Affairs has also been funded by Liberal Party associated entity the Cormack Foundation.
The IPA Victoria was founded during World War II by businessmen in response to the feared growing power of the Labor Party and international socialism, with founder C. D. Kemp putting the case to the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures sub-committee as such:
The freedom of Australian business is today gravely threatened by forces whose unswerving and rigid purpose is the entire nationalisation of industry and the establishment of socialism as the permanent form of Australian society; this would mean the elimination of private capital and shareholding, profit, freedom of private enterprise and the transfer of the control of industry to civil servants and union leaders. These forces are centred politically in the Labor Party and industrially in the Trade Unions; they are supported by an extremely powerful and growing section of public opinion.
The IPA Victoria was founded as an apolitical organisation, and rejected the IPA NSW's strategy of "direct short term political action to defeat the Labor Party with an emphasis on propaganda". However, the IPA Victoria acted as a finance committee for non-Labor parties in its first year, and the IPA Treasurer at the time reportedly said that much of the IPA Victoria's funding was conditional on it being spent to "fight socialism at the coming election" (the 1943 Australian federal election). Its Publicity and Research Bureau wrote political broadcasters, provided speakers' notes to all endorsed United Australia Party and United Country Party candidates and producing advertisements.
The IPA Victoria's direct involvement in federal politics was reappraised after the 1943 election, and the organisation handed over responsibility for fundraising to the extra-parliamentary wing of the United Australia Party. The IPA Victoria remained involved in non-Labor politics, including financing by-election candidates and participating in the foundation of the Liberal Party of Australia.
The IPA Victoria was less involved in the 1949 federal election than the 1943 election, but the IPA Review did publish articles arguing against socialism and with tactical advice for the Liberal Party.
During Charles Kemp's time as Director, the IPA Victoria focused its political engagement on the non-Labor parties, and did not "seriously attempt" to influence Labor politicians. Academic and public servant Finlay Crisp described it as a "satellite" of the Liberal Party during this time, and the IPA Review had a policy of not approaching Labor figures for submissions and of muting criticism of the Liberal Government.
In 1978, the IPA and the Australian Council of Trade Unions prepared a booklet on partnership in industry, but the ACTU baulked at the association and its name was not on the final publication. By the 1980s, the IPA had changed its policy and made space in the IPA Review for Labor politicians and "others not of the free enterprise persuasion".
Today, the Institute still has close ideological and political affinities with the Liberal Party in Australia. For example, IPA Executive Director John Roskam worked on the Liberal Party's election campaign during the 2001 federal election and has run for Liberal Party preselection. Tony Abbott delivered the 57th C D Kemp lecture in 2001 on the Coalition Government's Work for the Dole program and Prime Minister John Howard delivered the 60th C D Kemp lecture in 2004, titled Iraq: The Importance of Seeing it Through.
Following the 2013 federal election of the Abbott Coalition Government, the IPA released a list of 75 policy initiatives (later adding another 25) to "transform Australia" which encapsulated the present direction of the IPA.
The IPA Victoria's ideological position was initially "an amalgam of Keynesianism control and Hayekian regulation", with IPA President Eric Lampe in 1961 saying that the IPA considered government responsibility for full employment, social security, the speed of development, living standards and financial stability "all very necessary".
This changed during the late 1970s and 1980s, when the IPA adopted an economic rationalist or neo-liberal position, with the IPA saying in 1988 that:
the material condition of all sections of the community is most effectively enhanced by encouraging economic growth through a private enterprise, market-oriented economic system, involving vigorous private enterprise and minimal government interference
Recent economic positions of the IPA include:
- lower taxation;
- abolish the minimum wage
- deregulation of the Australian economy;
- privatisation of government bodies like Australia Post, Medibank, the SBS, the Australian Institute of Sport, the National Broadband Network, CSIRO and the ABC;
- reduced government spending;
- greater transparency in government;
- the elimination of existing programs of welfare targeted at Indigenous Australians, with the aim of encouraging transition to work, self-reliance and high incomes;
- maintain or increase the current level of immigration;
- the reduction of Australian Public Service benefits and allowances.
In the 1990s, the IPA was funded by the tobacco industry to conduct research that "attacked the science behind passive smoking". The research included a study from 1996 by John Luik that found that the impact of passive smoking on non-smokers was "trivial", and that "bogus" or "corrupt" passive smoking "threatens the central democratic values of autonomy, respect and diversity".
In 2006, the IPA predicted that banning smoking in public places would increase the risk of passive smoking as smokers moved to private areas indoors, that illegal garage bars may be set up and that without cigarette smoke nightclubs would have to "deodorise sweat and flatulence" with scented smoke.
In 2010, the IPA argued against the Gillard Government's plans to introduce plain tobacco packaging, criticising it on the grounds that plain packaging may not affect the consumption of those products and that plain packaging may infringe intellectual property rights in tobacco trademarks and logos. If so, it would represent a breach of the constitutional requirement that acquisition be on just terms.
Policy director Tim Wilson predicted that the government could be liable for $3 billion in compensation, a claim that was criticised at the time by Media Watch in part because media covering Wilson's claims did not mention that the IPA receives donations from the tobacco industry. The High Court ultimately ruled that no compensation was required, in British American Tobacco Australasia Limited and Ors v. The Commonwealth of Australia.
The IPA rejects climate change science and finances several Australian climate change science deniers.
In 2008, the institute facilitated a donation of $350,000 by Dr G. Bryant Macfie, a climate change denier, to the University of Queensland for environmental research. The money is to fund three environmental doctoral projects, with the IPA suggesting two of the three agreed topics.
In 2010, the IPA published a compilation of essays by prominent climate change deniers titled Climate Change: The Facts and edited by John Roskam and Alan Moran. An expanded version with 22 essays was published in 2015 through Stockade Books and a follow-up edited by Jennifer Marohasy was published in 2017, both in Kindle format.
In 2017, Marohasy and IPA colleague John Abbot publisher a paper on climate change in the journal GeoResJ, also discussing the work on the IPA website, in The Spectator Australia, and in Marohasy's blog. The research concludes that much of recent warming could be attributable to natural variations, and that the "world was about as warm in 1980 as it was during the Middle Ages." This conclusion was heavily criticised by climate scientists who pointed to methodological flaws in the research and declared it unworthy of publication. Gavin Schmidt, the Director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, has pointed out that some data were shifted in time by approximately 35 years, leading to the omission of warming that has occurred since 1965. Schmidt described the research as "worthless" and an example of "what happens when people have their conclusions fixed before they start the work."
The following individuals are or were associated with the Institute of Public Affairs.
Senior office bearers
When the IPA Victoria was founded in 1943, it had a chairman (Sir George Coles); a chairman of the Executive Committee was chosen in 1944 (G. H. Grimwade) and a director (Charles Denton Kemp) in 1948. The Executive Committee was also referred to as the Industrial Committee or the Executive & Editorial Committee, and the role of chairman was subsequently renamed to president. From July 1983, the roles of president and chairman of the Executive Committee were combined.
|Name||Title||Date appointed||Date ended||Term in office||Comments||Ref|
|Rod Kemp||(Executive) Director;
|6–7 years (Director);
10–11 years (Chairman)
|Former Australian Government minister, Australian Senator representing Victoria for the Liberal Party. Kemp's father, Charles Kemp, was a co-founder of the IPA.|
|Mike Nahan||Executive Director||1995||2005||9–10 years||Western Australia Liberal Party Leader and Leader of the Opposition since 2017|
|John Roskam||Executive Director||2004||incumbent||14–15 years||Former Executive Director of the Menzies Research Centre; former Chief of Staff for Liberal Minister David Kemp|
|John Hyde||Executive Director;
|1991 (Executive Director); 1998 (Emeritus Fellow)||1995 (Executive Director); incumbent (Emeritus Fellow)||3–4 years (Executive Director); 20–21 years (Emeritus Fellow)||Economist; former Liberal member for Moore|
|Charles Denton Kemp||(Executive) Director||1948||1976||27–28 years||Economist and commentator; founder of the IPA; was also Acting Director between July 1979 and August 1982 when the position of Director was vacant|
|H.N. Warren||(Executive) Director||1977||1978||0–1 years||Also served as Secretary of the IPA's Editorial Committee|
|Roger Neave||(Executive) Director||1978-02||1979||0–1 years||Scriptwriter; Rootes Group executive; Deputy Director of the IPA between 1976 and his appointment as Director|
|Katherine West||Unofficial (Executive) Director||1979-12||1980-02||0–1 years|
|G.P. Hampel||(Executive) Director||1981-01||1981-11||0 years|
Staff, fellows and board members
|Name||Title||Date appointed||Date ended||Term in office||Comments||Ref|
|Janet Albrechtsen||Director||incumbent||Opinion writer for The Australian and a former director of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation|
|Chris Berg||Adjunct Fellow||incumbent||Columnist|
|James Bolt||Digital Communications Manager||incumbent||Son of Andrew Bolt, an Australian conservative political commentator|
|Father James Grant||Adjunct Fellow||incumbent||Catholic Priest and founder of Chaplains Without Borders, and Catholics in Business|
|John Lloyd||Director of the Work Reform and Productivity Unit (former)
Director of Workplace Relations (current)
|Unknown (Work Reform)
2018 (Workplace Relations)
|2014 (Work Reform)
incumbent (Workplace Relations)
|Former Australian Public Service Commissioner; former Australian Building and Construction Commissioner|
|James Paterson||Deputy Executive Director||2014||2016||Australian Senator representing Victoria for the Liberal Party|
|David Penington||Former Vice-Chancellor of University of Melbourne|
|Jason Potts||Adjunct Fellow||incumbent||Economist|
|Tony Smith||Research Assistant||1989||1990||0–1 years||Liberal Party Member for Casey, Speaker of the House of Representatives since August 2015|
|Tom Switzer||Adjunct Fellow||Historian; Executive Director of the Centre for Independent Studies; former Senior Adviser to then Liberal Leader Brendan Nelson (2009)|
|Tim Wilson||Policy Director||2007||2013||5–6 years||Liberal member for Goldstein; former Australian Human Rights Commissioner|
|Morris Williams||Research Assistant||1947||1972||24–25 years||Liberal member for Box Hill and Doncaster|
|Ian Plimer||Contributor, Climate Change: The Facts||Geologist, climate change denier|
|Ken Ring||Contributor, Climate Change: The Facts||Writer, "alternative weather" predictor|
|Simon Breheny||Policy Director; Director (Legal Rights Project); Editor (FreedomWatch)||2014||2018||4 years||Former Victorian Young Liberals President; Philip Morris International public policy manager|
|John Luik||Author, Smokescreen||Scholar, passive smoking sceptic|
Donors, members and associates
|Name||Relationship to IPA||Comments||Ref|
|Chairperson of Hancock Prospecting|
|David Leyonhjelm||Member||Former Australian Senator, representing himself and the Liberal Democratic Party|
|Bob Day||Member||Former Australian Senator representing South Australia for the Family First Party|
|John Elliott||Voting Member||Australian businessman; former president of the Liberal Party; former president of Carlton Football Club; former executive of Elders Limited|
|Kevan Gosper||Voting Member||Former Vice President of the International Olympic Committee; former chair and CEO of Royal Dutch Shell in Australia|
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- OCLC 725153335 ISSN 1329-8100