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Ben Van Brakel
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I gain enormous personal satisfaction from helping people to reach their full potential through the Power of Education.
I gain enormous personal satisfaction from helping people to reach their full potential through the Power of Education.

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How did Abbott ever become PM? Why has nothing changed since Turnbull came to power? The answer is simple the IPA Institute of Public Affairs, the driving force behind the extreme right wing of the Liberal Party. #auspol

These are the faceless men and women who are pulling the strings of Abbott and Turnbull. These are the people who moulded Abbott and his party, who shaped its policies who helped Abbott to power and once he became too full of his own importance was replaced with a castrated Malcolm Turnbull who is nothing more than a eunuch ringmaster of an illusionist circus.

The Institute of Public Affairs,–claims to be the world’s – oldest right-wing think tank and the oligarch currently running Australia incorporated.  (oligarch a form of government in which all power is vested in a few persons or in a dominant class or clique)

THERE'S NOTHING MUCH that’s public about the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) however, not its affairs certainly not its financial affairs. So a bit of digging is required.

The IPA was established in 1943 by a group of Melbourne businessmen including Rupert Murdoch father Keith Murdoch who were concerned by the decline of the Liberals’ predecessor, the United Australia Party, and by the increased role of government during World War II. It was one of the groups that helped found the Liberal Party.

Its core concerns were those of big business: it was for smaller government and less regulation, and against labour unions and the Labor Party. Fair enough in that they were a counter weight to the union movement and left leaning think tanks.

In 1987 everything changed when 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. This was a the major turning point for the IPA now corporations could choose to pay tax and benefit society or donate money to the IPA claim a tax deduction, whilst influencing government policy to their advantage – the choice  is pretty evident.

Although the current IPA executive director, John Roskam, will not talk about the institute’s donors, and certainly not ex-donors. Back in 2003, though, Roskam’s predecessor Mike Nahan was more forthcoming, revealing the names of some big corporate donors: Caltex, Esso, Philip Morris, British American Tobacco, News Corp, ExxonMobil, Telstra, WMC Resources, BHP Billiton, Phillip Morris,[11] Murray Irrigation Limited,[12] and Visy Industries. He admitted the institute had “lost” Rio Tinto because the company wanted to maintain good relations with the Aboriginal community.

At the same time under the leadership of John Hyde, the prototypical Liberal “dry”, it adopted more rationalist economics in line with those of Republican Tea Party in the United States, and pushed privatisation, deregulation and internationalisation of the economy.

More recently still, the IPA has moved increasingly into other issues not directly related to business or economics. It became a major combatant in the so called “culture wars” and reached its zenith of power with the election of Tony Abbott as Prime Minister.

Before he won the prime ministership, at a dinner celebrating the IPA’s 70th anniversary, Abbott took the opportunity to commit to a whole raft of big promises, with Rinehart, Murdoch and Cardinal George Pell as his witnesses.
He noted the IPA had given him “a great deal of advice” on the policy front, and, offering “a big ‘yes’, promised them he would act on it.

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

Abbott was true to his word. In fact, one might argue that Abbott under-promised at that dinner and over-delivered. Other major items on the IPA’s published wish list included stopping subsidies for the car industry (done), eliminating Family Tax Benefits (part-done), the cessation of funding for the ABC’s Australia Network (done), abandonment of poker machine reforms (done), the introduction of fee competition for Australian universities (done), and negotiating free trade deals with Japan, South Korea, China (done).

There is a bunch of others, too, where the government has made significant moves. It might not have abolished the Human Rights Commission, but it cut $1.65 million from its budget, refused to renew the position of its disability commissioner and appointed – absent the usual due process – one of the IPA’s own, Tim Wilson, as one of the remaining six commissioners. Attorney-General George Brandis has flagged an intention to “further reform” the HRC. As the Melbourne Age’s economics editor, Peter Martin, noted “Big food, big tobacco and big alcohol have been thrown the carcass of the Australian National Preventive Health Agency.”

The abolition of that agency was also on the IPA’s policy wish list, as was the demand to put an end to food and alcohol labelling, and end “all government-funded advertising against unhealthy habits such as smoking, drinking and junk food consumption.

There are numerous other policy suggestions on the IPA’s wish list – or more properly lists, plural, as the original 75 item list was later supplemented by another 25 items – on which the government is still working, and on which the IPA can expect at least partial success. The institute wants all media ownership laws eliminated, for example, along with the relevant regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority, and requirements put in place that radio and TV broadcasts be “balanced”.

I could go on with examples of the extraordinary influence of the institute, but perhaps more interesting is who these people are.
 
 Notable members include:
John Lloyd - Australian Public Service Commissioner and the former Australian Building and Construction Commissioner
Gina Rinehart - Chairman of Hancock Prospecting
Rupert Murdoch Chairman News Corp ( Director IPA  ooo ooo)
Tim Wilson - former Policy Director of the IPA, former Australian Human Rights Commissioner
Bob Day - Australian Senator from the Family First Party[26]
David Leyonhjelm - Australian Senator from the Liberal Democratic Party[27]
John Elliott - Australian businessman and former president of the Liberal Party, and former president of Carlton Football Club
Kevan Gosper - Former Vice President of the International Olympic Committee
David Penington - Former Vice Chancellor of Melbourne University
Mathias Cormann - Finance Minister
Andrew Robb - Trade Minister
Tony Abbott - Ex Prime Minister
*These just some of the foot soldiers that are at the beck and call of the Big Money Donors their influence is now evident in all sectors of society, academia, media, politics and the judiciary *

Getting their message out

The one characteristic that has distinguished the IPA from other conservative think tanks in Australia over the pastdecade is not its ideology, which closely reflects those associated with the Tea Party right of the US Republicans. No, the IPA’s distinguishing characteristic is the way it does propaganda.

In the year to June 2013, according to the IPA’s annual report, it clocked up 878 mentions in print and online. Its staff had 164 articles published in national media. They managed 540 radio appearances and mentions, and 210 appearances and mentions on TV. No prizes for guessing in which publications most of the print media references were to be found.

The surprise is that the national public broadcaster, the ABC, which the IPA would break up and sell off, features heavily. One count, by the left-leaning Independent Australia, clocked 39 appearances by IPA staff in the year 2011-12 on just one ABC TV program, The Drum. That’s almost as many Drum appearances as the combined total of all other think tanks, left, right and centre.

 Front organisations

The other way the IPA gets its message out is through front organisations, such as the Australian Environment Foundation. It was publicly launched on World Environment Day, June 5, 2005, as a “membership-based environmental organisation having no political affiliation”. One which would take an “evidence-based”, “practical” approach to green issues.

In fact, two of its directors were IPA staff, including executive director Mike Nahan, now the treasurer in Western Australia’s Liberal government. For its first two years, the AEF shared the IPA’s postal address.

It was actually an anti-environment group. It opposed new marine parks and plans to increase environmental water flows in the Murray-Darling Basin, and supported Tasmanian woodchipping, genetically modified foods. Above all, it promoted the work of climate change deniers.

Currently the AEF is engaged in lobbying the World Heritage Committee in support of the Abbott government’s plan to de-list parts of the Tasmanian forests.

There are other examples, such as the Owner Drivers’ Association, which purports to represent the interests of independent contractors in the transport industry. In reality, says Tony Sheldon, National Secretary of the Transport Workers Union, the ODA has consistently campaigned against laws improving working conditions and safety for drivers.

A driving force behind the ODA was Bob Day, an alumnus of both the IPA and another right-wing think tank, the Centre for Independent Studies. He is particularly interesting for he is now a senator. Not for the Liberals, but for the Family First Party.  Bob Day and David Leyonhjelm, who was elected as a Liberal Democrat, are both “long-term IPA members” that  is to say, they represent the right-wing, views of the institute even more faithfully than the Liberal Party itself.

IPA is still not satisfied. There are more items on its lists of aims and, as Roskam says, they’re continuing to “hold Turnbull’s feet to the fire”.
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Having followed Hillary career most of my life I share the author of this articles assessment of Hillary Clinton
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Ms. Clinton’s emails have endured much more scrutiny than an ordinary person’s would have, and the criminal case against her was so thin that charging her would have been to treat her very differently. Ironically, even as the email issue consumed so much precious airtime, several pieces of news reported Wednesday should have taken some steam out of the story.

First is a memo FBI Director James B. Comey sent to his staff explaining that the decision not to recommend charging Ms. Clinton was “not a cliff-hanger” and that people “chest-beating” and second-guessing the FBI do not know what they are talking about. Anyone who claims that Ms. Clinton should be in prison accuses, without evidence, the FBI of corruption or flagrant incompetence.
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The man who spent two and half years as the ethics lawyer to President George W. Bush has filed a Hatch Act complaint against FBI Director James Comey.
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Clinton’s campaign manager was able to wipe the floor with the Republican talking points because at the end of the day the email scandal remains a conspiracy about nothing.
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