Tag Archives: IPA policies

Some Coalition members want voter suppression here


Many of us in Australia are now mightily impressed with the state of our nation, especially when we compare it with our rich and powerful ally, the USA.

We have managed to somehow avoid the utter chaos and devastation, which they have endured now, for close to a year, during a once in a century pandemic. Our Government(s) made plenty of mistakes in handling the pandemic, but nothing on the scale of the criminal negligence President Trump and his Republican Party allies were guilty of.

But there are gathering signs that we have a particularly malicious set of parliamentarians, and their fellow travellers, who are keen to import some really bad American ideas.

The reason the American system has faltered recently is that the traditions and the myths of their origin story have been hi-jacked, and politicised, and the myths have won out, over common sense.

Some examples include the notion of personal liberty outweighing the public good, the flawed view that public health systems are socialist, the idea that education is not a human right, but something to be purchased.

Other caustic ideas include the notion that regulations on the private sector are always bad, that global warming is rubbish, that welfare paid is money wasted, that citizens should have the right to bear arms, that any relationship, or family, based on anything other than the classic nuclear family is immoral, that reducing taxes on the rich does anything other than increase inequality, and that poverty is a sign that a vengeful god is punishing the poor, because they deserve to be punished.

There are many other areas to examine, but I want to highlight the matter of voter suppression, which is definitely on the radar for our very own Trumpist government.

Voter suppression is a first step to authoritarianism

Voter suppression is an ancient, and honoured tradition in America, and it continues today. Since 1870, when the Fifteenth Amendment was passed, all men (later broadened to include women) were guaranteed the right to vote. This included men of all races, and specifically former slaves. Southern states, still smarting from their loss in the Civil War, set about limiting black access to the vote.

These methods included a poll tax, which charged a fee to lodge a vote. Poor whites could gain an exemption from paying the fee, but not poor blacks.

Literacy tests were also routinely applied, with many more black Americans being excluded than white Americans. This often related to the education available to black Americans, which was in most cases inferior, if it was even available. But in other cases, the tests applied were selective, with African-Americans often receiving more difficult tests. These measures were gradually phased out during the 1960s, but not before they had disenfranchised generations of otherwise entitled voters.

More recently the Republican Party has refined its methods, to suit the times. In Florida, for example, until recently convicted felons were ineligible to vote. Many with similar names to felons were wrongly purged from the electoral rolls.

That law was reversed in 2018, but the Republican State Government managed to circumvent the intention of the statute, known as Amendment 4, by making restoration of the right to vote almost impossible. Do not forget the election of George W Bush in 2000 was decided by less than a thousand votes, while convicted felons, and those with similar names, were purged from the electoral rolls. Convicted felons were, by a huge margin, more likely to be black, and to vote Democrat.

Although the election last year was not decided by a tiny number of votes, Florida voted for Trump. As many as 1.4 million voters were eligible to be restored to the rolls, but only 300,000 were allowed to register. That is 1.1 million voters disenfranchised. That would make a difference to the result.

That couldn’t happen here

Of course that could never happen here, could it? We have no voter fraud here, so there could be no reason to change the voting rules. Well, yes it could, As Caitlin Fitzsimmons recently reported in the Herald Sun, of all newspapers, the (Australian) federal government’s joint standing committee on electoral matters recently included a recommendation to require ID to vote, and another recommendation to require ID to enrol or change address.

Liberal members of the committee made similar recommendations in their reports on the 2013 and 2016 elections as well. They quoted several submissions in support, from the Institute of Public Affairs, and others. Labor and the Greens opposed the recommendations, but were outvoted.

There is a cynical reason for such a simple rule. The more disadvantaged you are, the more difficult it is to conform to what look like petty requirements. And the ID of choice for the majority of Australians is the driver’s licence. Petty for you, and me, but not if you have insecure housing, or are forced to live on the starvation line, or if you are fleeing domestic violence. And many disadvantaged people do not own, or drive, a car. That means they do not necessarily own a licence, and yet they may need to buy a licence, in order simply to vote.

The Liberals think that the disadvantaged are more inclined to vote for Labor, so any measure which makes voting or registering to vote more difficult, is a good thing. There is a reason why most Australians despise the IPA and its ilk. They appear to be staffed by weird and strangely cruel people, who desperately want to be characters in Atlas Shrugged. Strange, but true.

The IPA fears the ABC, because we trust it


During the neoliberal boom of the 1970s and 1980s, it became fashionable to sell many valuable state-owned enterprises, often for a song, and usually to friends of the regime. Later on this would become something of a blueprint for the Russians, who created a whole class of thieving kleptocrats, who then went on to pillage Russia’s wealth, and waste it on buying fripperies, like English soccer clubs and Faberge eggs.

They justified the sales by stating that ‘the market’ would run things a whole lot better than career bureaucrats, and that the profit motive would cause the new owners to utilise every trick of modern management principle, to strip down waste, and to maximise service, and customer satisfaction. They would make loads of lovely profit as well, because of their inherent efficiency.

Have a look at your latest electricity bill, or your water bill. That shows you what ‘the market’ will do, when let loose. The misfortune we all suffer is that the same class of idiots are still in charge of government policy, and contrary to all evidence, they maintain their absurd faith. As the late, great Maynard Keynes said so clearly, “Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone.”

No matter how often energy companies, or public transport, or toll-road operators make huge and stupid losses, they bring the begging bowl along, demanding more state subsidies, and the neoliberals continue to deliver. Of course, many of these same true believers pick up a post-career job, often working for the very same outfit to which they gave taxpayer subsidies.

As my old Uncle Jeff remarked many years ago, quoting Jack Lang, “always bet on Self Interest if it’s running, because you know it will always do its best.”

Is Rupert Murdoch just a big, old socialist?

You can see this magical farce playing out, in real time, right now. Rupert Murdoch cannot run his media organisation at all well, and so he has an army of ‘servants’ pushing for one of his competitors to be closed down, and also getting lovely, un-tied, taxpayer-funded subsidies. I think it has been $40 million so far this year, but you never know where our money is going, with this Government.

That inability to thrive seems to prove that he is not very good at running media companies, and that he is just a big, old socialist. He wants to close down his competitor, and he wants taxpayers’ funds, presumably so that he can rule the world. And he wants his ex-countrymen’s Government to pay for it.

If you listen carefully to the frenzied attacks on our national broadcaster, you will notice that there is a constant theme, repeated loud and long, that the ABC is left leaning, and biased. This comes from many different voices, most of whom spend time at Sky News. If you want an example of an unhinged set of ‘journalists’ look no further. Alan Jones, Peta Credlin, Paul Murray and the legendary Andrew Bolt are names to consider when looking for bias.

Alan Jones probably felt he was doing Mr Trump a favour, by personally not conceding the election, but he did not do himself, or his tattered reputation, any favours. Is it any wonder that almost no-one watches it?

Let us look at that scary ABC

Firstly, they argue that the ABC is now an anachronism, past its use by date. How they came to this position is peculiar. They state that when the ABC was founded, in 1932, there was a shortage of media available, and so the ABC was designed as a stop-gap measure. It would ‘fulfil a need for information’, until the real thing came along.

As the local commercial media matured, and evolved into something able to adequately serve the Australian public, the ABC, having served its purpose, would pack up its tent, and slip away.

Secondly, they argue that the ABC is not past its use by date, but rather it is cannibalising media opportunities, by competing too well with the media professionals, and shrinking their market. Global monopolies like the Murdoch empire cannot compete, and feel that the government funding gives the ABC an unfair advantage. This is the actual position put forward by the free marketeers, with access to seemingly unlimited funds, being unable to compete with ‘the luvvies’ of the ABC.

So on one hand the ABC has become redundant, as their charter is now being performed adequately by the corporate media; on the other hand they are too good at their job. Thirdly, the people like, and trust, the ABC.

They acknowledge that the ABC is popular, but in remaining true to their neo-liberal beliefs, they argue that there is no value in something merely because it is popular. It is a drain on the public purse, and must be divested. Another reason they don’t do well managing anything. Perhaps trying to please their audience would be a starting point.

What does the ABC do?

In Australia, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is legally required to ‘encourage and promote the musical, dramatic and other performing arts in Australia’ and ‘broadcasting programs that contribute to a sense of national identity’ with specific emphasis on regional and rural Australia’. Wikipedia

The ABC Charter, set down by Parliament, requires the Corporation to provide informative, entertaining and educational services that reflect the breadth of our nation. That summary is taken from the ABC’s own website. https://about.abc.net.au/abc-history/

This year they have covered the bush-fires, peerlessly. Their staff were spectacularly committed, professional and pushed to their limits. Of course there were some who accused the ABC of committing too many resources to the coverage. That is easy to say, after the fire-storm, but I live in regional Victoria, and there is no other place I would trust to provide me with accurate, up-to-date information.

Take a look at their coronavirus coverage. During the darkest days of April they provided us all with straight, professional, uninterrupted coverage of a once-in-a-century pandemic situation. They did not drop the ball when the second wave arrived.

When researching this article I went back in time. They were there in the 1930s, broadcasting by wireless about the death of Prime Minister Joseph Lyons, and the declaration of war, by Robert Menzies, in 1939. Cricket broadcasts began.

During the 1940s the ABC provided war reports from various overseas offices. It also attempted to provide an independent news service. In a precursor to today’s problems, it encountered some early government interference and censorship, by way of the newly formed Department of Information, run in 1940 by newspaper proprietor Sir Keith Murdoch. He was Rupert Murdoch’s father. So it seems that the Murdochs have always had a problem with public broadcasting. And they clearly don’t like competition.

The list of disasters, triumphs, royal weddings, funerals, bush-fires and floods is too long to recount, but there is not a time when Australians did not know where to look, if they wanted fearless honest reporting. We remember that the ABC is always there, and it is not swayed by the views of their advertisers, because there are none.

And if the ABC continues to outshine the so-called ‘professionals’, then the professionals need to lift their game. Stop asking the umpire for favours, and get on with it. The ABC does.

Why does the ABC use people like this?

My only complaint about the ABC is its regular use of right wing people whose stated aim in life is to eviscerate the ABC. Why have Amanda Vanstone? Tom Switzer? John Roskam? Tim Wilson? James Paterson? They are not ‘talent’. They are ‘assassins’, waiting to slip the knife in. I reckon they would all look great over on Sky News.

What we need on the ABC are people who are interested in the contest of ideas, rather than the mindless parroting of partisan rubbish. So disagree with me, but bring your brain along.

The IPA has captured our government


The name of the organisation is preposterous in itself. The Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) was originally set up in 1943, as a response to the rise of Social Democratic parties in general, and the Australian Labor Party in particular. The founders included Rupert Murdoch’s father, and G.J. Coles. There is a reason it is so against the interests of ordinary citizens.

The history of the IPA is curious. Many of the key players in its early years are either still around, or their children are. Its ideas haven’t really evolved much, but if you want to characterise them, they are crudely elitist, ideologically stunted, narrow minded, science-phobic, greedy and in most cases, fully imported. For a charity which pays no tax, they have very few clients in need.

The only reason they are of any interest to anyone is that they have captured the Federal Government, by stealth, and their inane policies are the reason this country is so conspicuously under-achieving.

There is not one thinker of note amongst its membership. Some of the current members appear to be the offspring of former members; a sort of self-replicating supply of not-so-bright apparatchiks. If you are searching for the reason behind the diminishing sense of pride attached to being Australian, the IPA is to blame.

Current or ex-members in Parliament

For a roll-call, these are some of the current members of the IPA, or their affiliates; Institute for Progress (AIP), Australian Taxation Alliance (ATA), who are current, or recent members of the current Parliament: Abetz, Birmingham, Cash, Christensen, Cormann, Evans, Fletcher, Frydenberg, Hawke, Hunt, McGrath, Morrison, Paterson, Porter, Roberts, Ryan, Stoker, Dean Smith, Tony Smith, Tehan, Tudge, and Tim Wilson.

All part of the Global Atlas Network. That would be where we get the passion for no minimum wage, and no health care. Past members include Abbott, Howard, and let usnever forget that our current PM is a fervent member.

They have been effectively bought by a handful of robber barons, who pay no taxes, and have no commitment to what was, twenty years ago, a democracy to be proud of.

They gaslight the entire community, with double-speak which would make George Orwell blush. As an example, in 2003 John Howard hired a conservative think tank (the IPA) to investigate NGO influence on some government agencies. The circularity of that sentence is dazzling.

“NGOs are becoming very influential today – they sit on various committees and are seen to influence governments and big business. As global players they need to be more transparent,” says Mike Nahan, executive director of the IPA. The lack of self-awareness in that statement is also noteworthy. Like appointing Mr Fox to investigate security at the chicken coop. 

“IPA is unfit to conduct the study due to its demonstrated bias and ongoing vilification of organisations that campaign for human rights, corporate social responsibility and environmental protection,” Oxfam said in a media release.

Who better than an NGO on the lunatic right (IPA) to investigate the NGOs represented by such bodies as Oxfam and Catholic Health Australia?

When dealing with the IPA one is assailed by the extreme seriousness with which they promote their truly stupid, and truly callous policies.

Some of their policies

They do not like welfare. They have a history of being supported by Big Tobacco. They want to sell the ABC, possibly to Rupert, at a discount. They want to lower the tax rate to companies and millionaires, as they starve the unemployed, and continue to dismantle the NDIS.

They caused the destruction of the Aged Care System, and they continue to support the fossil fuel industry while paying lip service to climate change action. They wanted us to abandon the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, but were momentarily shamed into making some concessions in Glasgow. Matt Canavan might be the most honest member of the coalition, in that even he admits their commitment to saving the planet is nonsense.

They want the Racial Discrimination Act to remove the ban on offensive speech. They want the Fair Work Act repealed, which means the ten minimum employment standards will disappear. Who knows, maybe we can get to see adult Australians working for $7 per hour, plus tips.

They also have absolutely no plans for a national integrity commission. There is a lot of speculation about the reasons for this position, but the history of rorts and inappropriate ‘jobs for the boys’, the slipping of millions of our dollars into dodgy land and water deals, all add up. A proper integrity commission could send many government members either into retirement, or even jail.

What does this ragbag of policies remind you of? Donald Trump’s America is the right answer. Of course they also want to abolish Medicare, probably because it reminds them of Obamacare. Their policies are imported. Considering most of the current Cabinet are members, how sincere can they be in governing for the good of all Australians?

So why would Australia want such policies?

The people in the IPA, and their affiliates, all think in Social Darwinism terms. So they think society is not meant to be inclusive, and caring for the least among us, but a contest.

The Tim Wilsons and James Patersons of this world actually think that if we were all transported to an unruly savannah, crawling with sabre-toothed tigers and snarling hyenas, that they would prosper. Reflecting on the personnel, my money is on the sabre-toothed tigers.

IPA types are secretly longing for the Call of the Wild. It is an adolescent fantasy, where if the going gets tough, the tough get going. Many of these intellectual giants wield real power in our federal parliament. All I can say is, be afraid. Be very afraid!

As John Roskam recently said: To control a virus that as yet has infected 5000 Australians, the response of doctors and politicians to this serious health crisis was to create also a humanitarian and an economic crisis. In the years to come Australians will quite rightly question whether there could have been a better way.” Sometimes you need to let libertarians speak freely. They do a better job of exposing themselves as empty vessels than any commentator could.

Lincoln Steffens studied corruption and malfeasance in American states in the 1890s. His unwavering opinion was that it was not the fault of the crooked politicians, nor the business people who corrupted them, but the apathy and the supine nature of the citizens.

As citizens of a once great democracy, we need to be vigilant, and to take care of what they are trying to unravel – our unique, caring society, free of Christian right wing nut jobs, with no knowledge of something known as social justice. Exercise your rights, before you lose them. Vote them out.