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Archive for the ‘IPA’ Category

Bolt no free speech champion, just another rhetor*

In Freedom of Speech, Freedom of the Press, Ideology, IPA, Journalism, Media on May 11, 2013 at 5:42 PM
Statue of ancient Greek philosopher Socrates, blindfolded by protesting students in Athens. Photograph: Lefteris Pitarakis/AP

Statue of ancient Greek philosopher Socrates, blindfolded by protesting students in Athens. Photograph: Lefteris Pitarakis/AP

By Thomas Connelly

May 11,  2013

Margo: I read with incredulity Andrew Bolt’s begging letter to citizens to donate to the IPA’s fund to defend free speech http://support.ipa.org.au/. IPA donors Murdoch and Gina could finance a free speech fund with their spare change. This appeal is about something else, changing the very meaning of free speech to suit the very big, very rich, very powerful end of town.

Shocks come in threes, and this surreal threesome kicked off with Abbott’s ode to Murdoch and his IPA as freedom’s discerning friends and his yes, Sir nod to the IPA’s policy wish list.

The Brandis free speech fantasy kicked off this week with a speech called The Freedom Wars and an @albericie interview.  Brandis, describing Bolt as one of only two Australian journalists prepared to fight for free speech, set the scene for Bolt, Murdoch poster boy, to launch the IPA appeal. It is so cynical, and so arrogant, that it gives donors the chance to win a copy of the Daily Telegraph’s obscene propaganda page one splash during the media reform debate signed by its puppet master.

Free speech is not what Murdoch/Bolt/IPA are about, as the head of the Press Council Julian Disney explained in evidence to the Senate media reform inquiry (to my knowledge no newspaper reported his highly critical comments about their free speech failures).

Or maybe free speech is now what Murdoch, Bolt, the IPA, Brandis and Abbott say it is. Who is strong enough to seriously take them on in the public sphere?

I published my response to Brandis, then I tweeted a plea for writers to respond, and late last night got this tweet from @metaboleus 2.01 am.

Onya, mate. Anyone else care to join him?


Free Speech is obviously a very important (if only implied) right, and no one can seriously argue it. There are limits on free speech; obviously you don’t have the right to shout fire in a crowded theatre when there’s no fire.

A recent limit to free speech, a sensible and timely one in my opinion, is restrictions on using ethnophaulisms in the public arena. I may out of touch, for never in my 50 years have I felt the need to publicly besmirch and mock our Aboriginal brothers and sisters. I have never felt the need to use the N-word in discourse, or to deny the existence of the holocaust.

Alleged political correctness allegedly gone mad barely registers as a threat to free speech compared to the almost complete full spectrum dominance of the major mainstream media companies, a dominance of interlocking companies and subsidiaries that seeps into the pores of society, and once established is as difficult to remove as the acres of lantana covering the Queensland country side.

In these free speech debates I am always amused to hear the bootless cries to heaven raised when people who hold powerful, privileged positions in society feel they are being restrained in their campaign of peddling misinformation. One these crying groups which make me chuckle is the IPA. I am equally amused to hear old white men such as Andrew Bolt, or Alan Jones, who work for influential media outlets, crying like aggrieved anarchists at the Stalinist regulations the government attempts to use to counteract the more egregious examples of rhetorical abuse.

Bolt is seen as a common sense hero in this one sided windmill tilting. He is romanticised to such an extent that he is seen by some as a martyr to free speech (a martyr who has not spent years in prison, who has not been blacklisted in his profession or denied work, who is free to travel around the country speaking at any time he wants). Thus the IPA’s Chris Berg compares Bolt with Socrates, the ugly, shoeless, poverty stricken, despiser of money and fame stone mason of Ancient Athens.

Socrates was famous for his humility and for his firm belief that he did not have wisdom. He can not be in any honest way be compared to Andrew Bolt. Andrew Bolt mixes with the richest, dresses in the height of fashion, seeks out new ways to make even more money, writes a regular column for the Murdoch press empire and has a weekly television show to broadcast his views. Read the rest of this entry »

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Missing an IPA transparency moment

In Ideology, IPA, Liberal Party, Margo Kingston on May 6, 2013 at 12:14 AM
IPA is conducting scientific research which is, or may prove to be, of value to Australia, Philip Morris, British American Tobacco, BHP Billiton, Western Mining, Caltex, Esso Australia (a subsidiary of Exxon), Shell, Woodside Petroleum, Murray Irrigation Ltd. Telstra, Clough engineering, Visy and News Ltd.

The IPA is an Approved Research Institute (ARI) and therefore eligible for endorsement as a deductible gift recipient (DGR). Donations from secret donors are tax deductible.

Jon Faine’s Friday Wrap. with John Roskam from the IPA and Sally Warhaft from the Wheeler Centre.

Broadcast Friday 26 April 2013.

FAINE: I’d like a pet plebiscite on disclosing the funding sources of the IPA says Belinda in McLeod.
ROSKAM: We’ll do a deal Belinda, we’ll disclose our sources one we know how much Jon Faine is paid.
FAINE: Sixteen minutes to eleven on 7…
WARHAFT: I wouldn’t have put that, oh Faine.
FAINE: Sixteen minutes to eleven on 774 ABC Melbourne, ABC Victoria.
WARHAFT: Fess up now.
WARHAFT: Now is your big opportunity. It’s finally come…
ROSKAM: Now is your chance Jon to find the IPA’s funding sources.
WARHAFT: …after what a decade of trying, you just, you’re five seconds away or perhaps two.
FAINE: Insofar as the AB…I haven’t as I said before, I haven’t been asked, I haven’t been asked how I feel but I tell you now how I’m feeling about it…
WARHAFT: Can I just say I am sitting in a studio with 2 men blushing right now.
FAINE: No, I tell you how I feel..
WARHAFT: Absolutely terrifying.
FAINE: I tell you how I feel about it right now which is that if the ABC is going release details of everybody’s pay that’s fine, I have no problem with mine being released,…
WARHAFT: I agree with that. I agree with that.
FAINE: but i’m certainly not releasing mine whilst the rest are kept secret.
WARHAFT: And totally fair enough too.
FAINE: Yeah and you know, I think when people find out how little we’re paid compared to …
WARHAFT: Thar’s the embarrassment
FAINE: … the amounts paid to commercial broadcasters who do the same, ‘the’ sort of same sort of jobs…they go…
WARHAFT: Forget broadcasters, this is general people.
FAINE: Did you see Olivia Wirth the spin doctor from Qantas, in that magazine article last week.
ROSKAM: I did see that article, how much was she reputedly on?
FAINE: Eight hundred housand dollars to do spinning for Qantas.
WARHAFT: I think we are talking a bit more about these young advisors that Julia Gillard is trying to hang on to, aren’t we? it’s a, I think it’s a vicarious claim Jon
and I fully support…
FAINE: I can tell you the range we’re paid in, we’re paid like academics at universities.
ROSKAM: Does that include Kerry O’Brien?
FAINE: I have no idea what Kerry O’Brien’s paid. I know what I’m paid and I know what some of the other people who work and salaries around here are paid.
WARHAFT: And that sounds about right.
FAINE: I don’t know what my other colleague presenters are paid.
WARHAFT: That sounds about right to me.
FAINE: Yeah. Anyway. which is a fraction of what people get to the commercial talkback. So the re you go. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. 14 minutes to Eleven.
WARHAFT: Although your hours are more (inaudible) than your average academic.
ROSKAM: You are paid for by taxpayers.
FAINE: Go away.
WARHAFT: So are academics.
ROSKAM: Precisely.
FAINE: The conversation coming up shortly. That was Sally Warhaft and John Roskamn. John is from the IPA. Sally does work with the Wheeler Centre and they’ve been doing the Friday Wrap.


Footnote:
For the IPA’s broken promise to disclose donors in 2004, Howard’s blueprint for Abbott to stifle dissent

Read More:

IPA Archive

The shadowy world of IPA finances

My people’s petition for Abbott to reveal his other IPA policies

In Federal Election, Ideology, IPA, Liberal Party, Tom Cummings on April 15, 2013 at 12:14 PM

Petition   Tony Abbott  Leader of the Opposition  Clarify which of the IPA s 75 policies the Coalition plans to implement.   Change.org

By Tom Cummings (@cyenne40)
April 15, 2013

The Australian Labor Party is often accused of being at the beck and call of the unions. Of course there is a decent element of truth in this, in so far as they both tend to focus on workers rather than corporations, and the historical links between Australia’s unions and the ALP are many. However, in recent years those links have weakened (although never broken) and the dynamic of today is different than it was 20 or 30 years ago.

But what about the Liberal Party? What of their affiliations, their preferences? They have always come across as friends of industry and big business rather than the workers; their focus on ‘getting what you pay for’ is well in keeping with their conservative ideology and reputation.

The difference between the ALP and the Liberal Party in this respect is that, while the former is vilified for their union associations, the latter is largely forgiven for their industry bias. This may well be because the corporations they support are largely responsible for helping to shape and drive the public perception of such things, although that is a situation that is rapidly changing as non-traditional news outlets gain popularity and credibility.

But the Liberal Party of today has stronger, more visible links to the conservative side of town through its leader. Tony Abbott makes no secret of his relationships and associations with certain individuals within the Catholic church, the media and big business; and his fondness for sound-bites ahead of policy has left a vacuum that his friends seem only too happy to fill.

Nowhere was this more obvious than at the recent 70th anniversary dinner of the Institute of Public Affairs. The IPA is not well known to the majority of the public, yet this ‘independent libertarian think tank’ had News Ltd boss and IPA member Rupert Murdoch as their guest of honour. Right-wing commentator Andrew Bolt was the MC. Cardinal George Pell and mining magnate Gina Rinehart were in attendance. And Tony Abbott himself gave the speech welcoming Murdoch to the occasion (Murdoch’s ‘class war’ speech is published here).

One of the most frightening things about that night is that Abbott joked about a list of 75 policies that the IPA had published and encouraged him and his party to adopt. He listed which policies his Coalition had already taken on board: abolishing the carbon tax and the mining tax, privatising Medibank and slashing the public service were just a few.

“So, ladies and gentlemen, that is a big ‘yes’ to many of the 75 specific policies you urged upon me in that particular issue of the magazine….but Gough Whitlam I will never be!”

 – Tony Abbott

The question here is this: where will Tony Abbott stop? How many more of the IPA’s radical policy suggestions entitled ‘Be like Gough’ will he adopt as party policy, before or after the election? We all saw last week what happens when Abbott tries to be creative with policy; the alternative NBN announcement with Malcolm Turnbull was an unmitigated disaster. How likely then that he will resist any further policy announcements for as long as possible, only to cherry-pick from the list the IPA has so kindly put together for him?

Because that list, and the 25 additional policies that the IPA subsequently released to make it an even 100, make for truly terrifying reading. It is a libertarian vision for the future, one without safety nets, one without protections, and one without regard for the individual.

That’s why I started a petition, calling on Tony Abbott to clarify which of the IPA’s 75 policies the Coalition plans to implement. Of course I have no illusions that this petition will ever reach Abbott, or that even if it did, that it would make an iota of difference to his actions. A friend of mine called it their “favourite useless waste of time” petition, and I can honestly see why!

But some people are reading it.  Some people are seeing the list of 75 IPA policies, are seeing that Tony Abbott is already committed to implementing a number of these policies, and are concerned. Already the petition has attracted more than a thousand signatures… far more than I thought it ever would.

Because the common wisdom is that Tony Abbott will be prime minister before the end of the year. We need to think about that, and scrutinise what it will mean. It’s not good enough for him to hold all his cards close to his chest and promise that life will be better under his government. We deserve better than that; we deserve to be told.


Sign the petition now:

ABBOTT says yes to 10 of the IPA’s 75 radical ideas, so far

In Federal Election, Freedom of Speech, Ideology, IPA, Liberal Party on April 8, 2013 at 12:24 AM

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Be like Gough: 75 radical ideas to transform Australia

IPA REVIEW ARTICLE

by John RoskamChris Berg and James Paterson

If Tony Abbott wants to leave a lasting impact – and secure his place in history – he needs to take his inspiration from Australia’s most left-wing prime minister.

No prime minister changed Australia more than Gough Whitlam. The key is that he did it in less than three years. In a flurry of frantic activity, Whitlam established universal healthcare, effectively nationalised higher education with free tuition, and massively increased public sector salaries. He more than doubled the size of cabinet from 12 ministers to 27.

He enacted an ambitious cultural agenda that continues to shape Australia to this day. In just three years, Australia was given a new national anthem, ditched the British honours system, and abolished the death penalty and national service. He was the first Australian prime minister to visit communist China and he granted independence to Papua New Guinea. Whitlam also passed the Racial Discrimination Act. He introduced no-fault divorce.

Perhaps his most lasting legacy has been the increase in the size of government he bequeathed to Australia. When Whitlam took office in 1972, government spending as a percentage of GDP was just 19 per cent. When he left office it had soared to almost 24 per cent.

Virtually none of Whitlam’s signature reforms were repealed by the Fraser government. The size of the federal government never fell back to what it was before Whitlam. Medicare remains. The Racial Discrimination Act – rightly described by the Liberal Senator Ivor Greenwood in 1975 as ‘repugnant to the rule of law and to freedom of speech’ – remains.

It wasn’t as if this was because they were uncontroversial. The Liberal opposition bitterly fought many of Whitlam’s proposals. And it wasn’t as if the Fraser government lacked a mandate or a majority to repeal them. After the 1975 election, in which he earned a 7.4 per cent two-party preferred swing, Fraser held 91 seats out of 127 in the House of Representatives and a Senate majority.

When Mark Steyn visited Australia recently he described political culture as a pendulum. Left-wing governments swing the pendulum to the left. Right of centre governments swing the pendulum to the right. But left-wing governments do so with greater force. The pendulum always pushes further left.

And the public’s bias towards the status quo has a habit of making even the most radical policy (like Medicare, or restrictions on freedom of speech) seem normal over time. Despite the many obvious problems of socialised health care, no government now would challenge the foundations of Medicare as the Coalition did before it was implemented.

Every single opinion poll says that Tony Abbott will be Australia’s next prime minister. He might not even have to wait until the current term of parliament expires in late 2013. The Gillard government threatens to collapse at any moment. Abbott could well be in the Lodge before Christmas this year.

Abbott could also have a Fraser-esque majority after the next election. Even if he doesn’t control the Senate, the new prime minister is likely to have an intimidating mandate from the Australian people. The conditions will suit a reformer: although Australia’s economy has proven remarkably resilient, global events demonstrate how fragile it is. The global financial crisis, far from proving to be a crisis of capitalism, has instead demonstrated the limits of the state. Europe’s bloated and debt-ridden governments provide ample evidence of the dangers of big government.

Australia’s ageing population means the generous welfare safety net provided to current generations will be simply unsustainable in the future. As the Intergenerational Report produced by the federal Treasury shows, there were 7.5 workers in the economy for every non-worker aged over 65 in 1970. In 2010 that figure was 5. In 2050 it will be 2.7. Government spending that might have made sense in 1970 would cripple the economy in 2050. Change is inevitable. Read the rest of this entry »

IPA and Murdoch are freedom’s discerning friends: Abbott

In Federal Election, Ideology, IPA, Liberal Party on April 7, 2013 at 9:37 PM
IPA 70th Anniversary dinner attended by Murdoch, Rinehart, Pell, Abbott, Bolt,

IPA 70th Anniversary dinner attended by Murdoch, Rinehart, Pell, Abbott, Bolt,

By Tony Abbott
April 4. 2013
Source: tonyabbott.com.au

Andrew, thank you so much for that truly lovely introduction. All I can say is: I prefer your judgments to your reminiscences!

Mr Premier, Mr Lord Mayor, Your Eminence, parliamentary colleagues, I don’t want to single anyone out because there are so many of them here but I should particularly mention the Shadow Attorney-General George Brandis who did such magnificent work in opposing the current government’s attacks on free speech, family members of the founder of the IPA, CD Kemp, Gina Rinehart, who has given what I’m sure is the best speech that any one will give tonight, ladies and gentlemen.
At one level, tonight we celebrate the 70th birthday of the Institute of Public Affairs; but at a deeper level we celebrate things that are timeless – the freedom that our civilisation has nurtured and the faith that has nurtured our civilisation. In celebrating the IPA, we celebrate its calling which is to support and sustain the public culture which has shaped our country and influenced so well the wider world.

In the Garden of Eden that Adam and Eve could do almost as they pleased but freedom turned out to have its limits and its abuses, as this foundational story makes only too clear. Yet without freedom we can hardly be human; hardly be worthy of creation in the image of God. From the Garden of Eden, to the Exodus, Athenian democracy, the Roman Senate, Magna Carta, the glorious revolution and American independence, the story of our civilisation has been the story of freedom and our struggles to achieve it.

Freedom, ladies and gentlemen, is what we yearn for but it can only exist within a framework of law so that every person’s freedom is consistent with the same freedom for everyone else. This is what the poet Tennyson meant when he described England as “a land of just and old renown, a land of settled government where freedom broadens slowly down from precedent to precedent”. At least in the English speaking tradition, liberalism and conservatism, love of freedom and respect for due process, have been easy allies.

The IPA, I want to say, has been freedom’s discerning friend. It has supported capitalism, but capitalism with a conscience. Not for the IPA, a single-minded dogmatism or opposition to all restraint; rather a sophisticated appreciation that freedom requires a social context and that much is expected from those to whom so much has been given. You’ve understood that freedom is both an end and a means; a good in itself, as well as necessary for full human flourishing.

I particularly congratulate the IPA and its marvelous director, John Roskam, for your work in defence of Western civilisation. Contemporary Australia has well and truly – and rightly – left behind the old cult of forgetfulness about our indigenous heritage. Alas, there is a new version of the great Australian silence – this time about the Western canon, the literature, the poetry, the music, the history and above all the faith without which our culture and our civilisation are unimaginable.

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is the foundation of our justice. “Love your neighbour as you love yourself” is the foundation of our mercy. Faith has weakened but not, I’m pleased to say, this high mindedness which faith helped to spawn and which the IPA now helps to protect and to promote.

I want to say of the IPA that, unlike some other bodies dedicated to the promotion of an ideal, the IPA has never been too proud or too pure to campaign for its beliefs or to take sides in a good cause. Your campaign against the bill of rights caused a bad government to capitulate. You campaigned against the bill of rights because you understood that a democratic parliament, an incorruptible judiciary and a free press, rather than mere law itself, were the best guarantors of human rights. Read the rest of this entry »

Howard’s blueprint for Abbott to stifle dissent

In Brandis Remember This Freedom, Freedom of Speech, IPA, JWH & NGOs, Margo Kingston on March 12, 2013 at 2:19 PM
Artist Martin Davies.  More works and info on Martin at: www.daviesart.com

Artist Martin Davies.

By Margo Kingston
March 12, 2013

This chapter from Still Not Happy, John! (Pengiun, 2007) is required reading for activists and people in non-government organisations which advocate for change. John Howard’s government systematically sought to stifle democratic dissent with the help of the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA).

Believe it or not, the Howard government funded the secretly funded IPA to produce a report saying groups who did not reveal their funding should not get government funding. Pressed to justify this hypocrisy, the IPA promised to disclose its donors but it never did.

As the likelihood of a government led by Howard’s political son grows, I feel citizens need to ask detailed questions of the Coalition on their intentions this time round. None of the dissent stifling measures discussed here were ever revealed prior to election.

I commissioned journalist Paddy Manning (@gpaddymanning) to write this chapter and he did a fine job.



‘Still Not Happy, John!’ is published by Penguin. You can download it as an ebook here:

Still Not Happy, John!