According to the Institute of Public Affairs, there has been no "debate" about the relationship between climate change and the bushfire crisis. Investigations editor Ross Jones reports.
THREE-POINT-EIGHT-SEVEN MILLION. That’s how many dollars the Institute of Public Affairs had in cash reserves as at 1 July 2019.
As IA has previously reported, it's murky as to where a lot of this came from. The IPA’s published numbers are so vague as to be meaningless.
We know Gina Rinehart used to kick the can for around $2.25 million a year and probably still does, just more privately than the last unfortunate family spat unearthed.
We know 21 individuals in total each chipped in more than $50K to the cause of "freedom" and "Western civilisation", but we have no idea who they were.
We also know that this largesse all fuels a Nescafe-sipping inner-Melbourne intellectual elite dedicated to all things good.
According to Wikipedia:
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.
Back in December 2019, when Australia’s fires were really starting to get going, IPA boss, executive director John Roskam, wrote a Christmas newsletter to members. In it, John shared his agony at writing this letter.
Somewhere or another – he is not specific regarding the source, possibly a right-wing desk calendar – John read a quote that struck him as a 'wonderful insight, so obvious and true'.
This gem was:
'Dr Martin Luther King Jr didn’t say "I have a nightmare".'
Although he could well have.
Because I wasn’t sure whether other people would find it as powerful as I did and whether it was the right way to start my 2019 Christmas letter to IPA members, I asked my 14-year-old so about it. I told him what I proposed to do and he said he liked it. And then he said something really interesting — he said nightmares don’t offer solutions. And he said that’s the problem with Greta Thunberg.
Nice one. Drop your 14-year-old kid in as anti-Thunberg — that’ll set him up socially.
But John’s kid might have bigger problems. Like getting a job that pays more than a subsistence pittance.
The IPA’s November 2019 newsletter touts some recent so-called research.
One paper is titled, all in caps, ‘THE FIRST RUNG: THE ROLE OF LOW-PAID WORK IN BUILDING SUCCESS'.
Or trying to preserve the Great Barrier Reef because – according to Dr Jennifer Marohasy, who was addressing a Climate Change Concern Forum in Maroochydore – "sea-level fall is the greatest threat to the Great Barrier Reef".
There is so much intellectually rigorous stuff coming out of the IPA it’ll make your head spin.
On 10 January 2020, while Australian cities were shrouded in eucalypt smoke, Roskam again picked up his pontificating pen in his Collins Street office and knocked out an opinion piece entitled, ‘Don’t Tie Recovery in Red Tape’.
According to John:
‘The best way of getting fire-devastated communities back on their feet would be to create special economic zones exempt from taxes, charges and regulations.’
John does not spell out exactly what exemption from regulations would entail, but NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons doesn’t seem to agree it’s such a good idea.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported
Those who lost homes during the state’s ravaging bushfires may face higher than expected re-building costs because of the need to comply with tougher standards, Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons has warned.
“It’s not going to be the same as it was before, there is going to be a new normality,” Mr Fitzsimmons told the Herald.
John’s letter to IPA members explained:
As much as the Greens might wish otherwise, the ability to analyse and discuss the causes and consequences of the fires must not be curtailed. According to Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, Australia is now experiencing “climate fires” and “the time for debate is over”.
Such a statement is misconceived, because it wrongly assumes there has been a debate about the relationship between climate change, land management and the bushfires.
No, I’m not sure what John means either.
According to the SMH, neither does Shane:
‘Mr Fitzsimmons said despite the “very noisy space” of the climate change debate, his agency had been factoring in the science for more than a decade.’
Note the word, "science".
John reckons more active land management is the go and, in an unusual move for the IPA, holds up First Australians as the gold standard in this regard:
Active management of public land through measures such as controlled burning and hazard reduction is essential to manage the risk of bushfires. None of this is new.
Bill Gammage’s 2011 book, 'The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines made Australia', describes how Indigenous Australians managed the land for thousands of years.
That would be before Western civilisation arrived, chained up/shot/poisoned Australia’s inhabitants, trashed the joint, gouged its earth, sent innumerable species extinct and then, like a mad rooster, crowed its triumphalism and dominion over all things.
Our most recent bushfire tragedy has caused businesses, individuals, sports teams, clubs and other bodies to open their wallets, in an attempt to help those affected.
As the least suspenseful question so far this year, how much do you reckon the IPA has donated?
You got it.
Investigations editor Ross Jones is a licensed private enquiry agent and the author of 'Ashbygate: The Plot to Destroy Australia's Speaker'. You can follow Ross on Twitter @RPZJones.
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