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Chris Berg (left) details his expertise as being "a published commentator on all sorts of things".

The IPA tries to pass itself as a venerable research “Institute”, but it is really nothing of the sort, as Senator Doug Cameron showed in a Senate Committee in March.

FORMER “research fellow” for the Institute of Public Affairs Tim Wilson has been in the news this week over his controversial appointment to the Australian Human Rights Commission — despite the IPA this year vocally lobbying for the AHRC’s disbandment. But as has been pointed out, Tim Wilson has no significant academic ‒ or other ‒ credentials to justify him taking on this important Government role.

This is unsurprising, because although the IPA tries to pass itself off as a venerable research “Institute”, in fact it is really nothing more than a lobby group for hire whose grandly titled “research fellows” are almost all ‒ like Wilson ‒ relatively young and callow ideologues with few, if any, true qualifications in their supposed fields of expertise.

This was demonstrated in excruciating ‒ yet rather hilarious ‒ fashion in March this year, at a Senate Committee Inquiry into the Finkelstein Review chaired by Doug Cameron, in questions put by him to IPA "research fellow" Chris Berg and "director" Simon Breheny.

Excerpt from Environment and Communications Legislation Committee — 19/03/2013 (from Hansard):

CHAIR: Mr Berg and Mr Breheny, why should we give more weight to your evidence than to Mr Finkelstein's and Professor Ricketson's?

Mr Berg: The IPA has strong views; I think it is backed by research evidence. I do not think that the Finkelstein review was as intellectually coherent as some have claimed it was, and I do not think it is the be-all and end-all of media discussion in this country. I do not know why we would raise that up to being the definitive statement on the free press.

CHAIR: But strong views are not the basis on which to make deliberations; strong views are strong views.

Mr Berg: Absolutely; and I would be happy to send you a copy of my book, which details at great length the evidence that we bring to bear on this discussion, which is a historical and philosophical grounding on the importance of the free press and the historical and current threats to it.

CHAIR: Do you have a PhD in the media or something like that?

Mr Berg: No, I do not.

CHAIR: What are your qualifications?

Simon Breheny: Director of the IPA's Rule of Law project and Arts/Law student (Image via danbymp.com)

Mr Berg: I have a Bachelor of Arts and I am doing a PhD at the moment at RMIT university.

CHAIR: In what?

Mr Berg: In economics.

CHAIR: So you have no qualifications in the media?

Mr Berg: In the media in general?

CHAIR: Yes.

Mr Berg: I am a published commentator on all sorts of things.

CHAIR: A commentator—

Mr Berg: No, I understand—

CHAIR: I am asking about your professional base. I am not asking whether you are a commentator; we know you are a commentator. Mr Breheny, what about you? What are your qualifications?

Mr Breheny: I am currently a university student; I am studying arts and law at the University of Melbourne.

CHAIR: Arts and law—good on you; that is great….

Editor’s note: As stated, this excerpt comes from Hansard, however the same extract was earlier published on Trevor Cook’s blog, whom we sincerely thank for the inspiration for this piece.

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