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The Institute of Public Affairs (IPA)

Updated: Jul 18, 2023

The Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) is a conservative free market public policy think tank based in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, which describes itself as an"independent, non-profit public policy think tank, dedicated to preserving and strengthening the foundations of economic and political freedom."

The Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) Logo.

It was founded in 1943 and is funded by individual memberships, as well as individual and corporate donors. It is known for advocating free-market policies, limited government intervention, and individual freedoms as well as deregulation of state-owned enterprises, trade liberalisation, and repeal of Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975. The organisation conducts research, publishes reports, and engages in lobbying activities to promote its policy positions.

The Minimum Wage

In 2014 the IPA advocated for the minimum wage to be abolished. Aaron Lane, a writer for the IPA, stated there was ‘‘moral case’’ to abolish minimum wages to allow people to experience the ‘‘dignity of work,’ and that the current industrial relations system had both forced employers to cut back staff hours and priced thousands of Australians out of employment:

‘‘Our position is an ideological one and we don’t shy away from that...This position can be seen as heartless and wanting people to work for a low wage. But it’s about empowering individuals in being able to choose their own employment...I’m not so concerned about the working poor, I’m more concerned about the unemployed poor...Continuing to increase the minimum wage is a threat to the dignity of the unemployed.’’

Plain-Packaged Tobacco Products

Former-fellow and policy director for the IPA, Chris Berg, argued in 2011 that the introduction of plain-packaged tobacco products in Australia was a case of "the nanny state running rampant." The IPA released follow-up articles written by Mr. Berg in 2016, one claiming that the policy on plain-packaged cigarettes "is one of the most stark examples of how Nanny State regulations treat individuals as childish automatons," and another questioning the success of the policy.

Climate Change

In 2010 The Sydney Morning Herald reported that roughly a quarter of the IPA's $2 million in annual funding was contributed by organisations with "a direct stake in the climate change debate." The article went on to the report that this money is used:

"...to pay for sceptic research and extend patronage to prominent sceptics by giving them a platform for publication and media exposure. The IPA is a key part of Australia's small labyrinth of think tanks, foundations and internet-based communities attempting to undermine public confidence in climate science."

John Roskam, who formerly served as the executive director of the IPA, was quoted by The Sydney Morning Herald that ''Of all the serious [climate] sceptics in Australia, we have helped and supported just about all of them in their work one way or another.''

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