24 May 2019
Dear IPA Members
“This is a really important time in Australia and without the IPA I don’t know where we’d be. I’d say we need the IPA now more than ever.”
An IPA member said this to me last week. I think she’s absolutely right and in this letter to you I’m going to share with you why I think so. I’m also going to share with you why your financial support of the IPA is so vital to our future success.
That is why I’m writing to you today to ask you to make a tax deductible donation to the 2019 End of Financial Year Appeal of the Institute of Public Affairs.
As you know, the IPA’s only source of funding is from voluntary membership fees and donations. The IPA doesn’t seek or receive any government funding.
Around 85% of the IPA’s revenue is from donations and the other 15% comes from membership fees from the IPA’s 5,000 members. 98% of all donations to the IPA come from individuals and foundations. The remaining donations come from companies, most of which are small and medium-sized businesses.
(In Australia today the corporate sector has retreated from its historic role arguing for the benefits of wealth-creation and entrepreneurship. Today, company bosses are more likely to attack free enterprise and embrace the divisiveness of identity politics. The voice for free enterprise in this country is more likely to be found in a motor mechanic’s workshop in the outer suburbs than in Sydney and Melbourne’s corporate boardrooms.)
As you can see, donations from our members are the lifeblood of the IPA and that’s why things like the IPA’s 2019 End of Financial Year Appeal are so crucial to our success.
The IPA is growing because people care about what we do and they care about the future of our great country. People know the IPA is having an impact and making a difference.
Here are some other things IPA members have said to me lately about our work:
“It feels as if these days the IPA is pretty much the lone voice for freedom of speech.”
“The IPA researchers I see on TV talking about tax and red tape always know what they’re talking about.”
“I love your Generation Liberty work with young people. It’s so positive about the future compared to what they usually get.”
“Thank you to the IPA for supporting Peter Ridd. We had a fantastic victory for freedom of speech on climate change.”
When I get off the phone from talking to an IPA member who tells me this I truly appreciate how lucky I am to work at the IPA and to have the support of a fantastic team of staff at the IPA and our wonderful IPA members.
The IPA has more than doubled in size in the last five years. The team of IPA staff is now more than 35 people. The reason for the IPA’s success is easy to explain. When the IPA was founded 75 years ago (we’re the oldest free market think tank in the world) the following words were enshrined in the IPA’s Constitution:
The objective of the Institute of Public Affairs is to further the individual, social, political, and economic freedom of the Australian people.
That objective is as important to Australia now as it was in 1943. Every day, whether in a university lecture theatre talking to young people, or on ABC TV in front of half-a-million viewers, or in Parliament House in Canberra in a meeting with a politician, the IPA is arguing for freedom and for the dignity that comes with freedom. Human flourishing can ultimately only come from freedom.
Today in 2019 four principles guide the work of the IPA to meet that objective:
Future – Our work is for the future. We have a responsibility to pass on to future generations the legacy of freedom.
Freedom – Human flourishing can only be achieved when individuals have the dignity and responsibility to make their own decisions.
Opportunity – Every person should have the opportunity for a better life.
Prosperity – A free society ensures prosperous communities.
What I’d like to do now is first tell you why I believe it’s so important you make a donation to the IPA’s 2019 End of Financial Year Appeal and then I’ll share with you how the IPA will use your donation and the impact your donation will have on the future of Australia.
Why your donation to the IPA is so important
I’m incredibly optimistic about Australia’s future. Australia is still the best country in the world to live in. And Australians are the best people in the world. As much as government might try and knock it out of us, I believe there’s still a kernel of freedom in the Australian people that cannot be dissolved.
The vast majority of Australians are proud of their country, want to take responsibility for their own lives, and believe in fundamental human rights like freedom of speech – and I can demonstrate it.
For example, in January this year when the IPA commissioned a survey of 1,000 Australians, 88% said they were proud to be Australian and only 3% disagreed. 92% of Australians said ‘freedom of speech is an important Australian value’. This IPA survey received huge publicity and was mentioned in the national media over 500 times. I think the reason the survey got such coverage is because these sorts of mainstream opinions are not often heard in the media. I also think a big part of the IPA’s role is to communicate how strongly Australians feel about these issues – because if the IPA isn’t talking about it, no-one else will.
Many other polls show the same thing. By and large Australians believe we should ‘live and let live’. The Australian newspaper conducted a survey of 21,000 people asking whether the rugby player Israel Folau should be sacked from his contract with Rugby Australia for some controversial comments he made on social media. A majority of people disagreed with what he said but 89% of people said he shouldn’t be sacked for saying it.
You don’t need polls and surveys though to see the common sense of the Australian people. You can see it all around us. Our whole way of life is built on ideals such as: you can disagree with what I say but you’ll still allow me to say it; we’re all equal in the eyes of the law; we all have an equal right to participate in the government regardless of our skin colour or gender or religion or background or wealth; and we have the right to seek the dignity of work and gain reward for what we do without the government imposing taxes and regulations and red tape on ourselves and our businesses to such an extent that the burden of that effort is discouraged.
But Australian values are changing – and as a result Australia is changing too. So for example:
- Freedom of speech has been replaced with the idea that people shouldn’t be offended. What people say is being judged not according to the quality of the argument but according to the race or gender or class of the person saying it.
- The idea that the economy should grow so that everyone is better off has been overcome by envy of success and policies of income redistribution that discourage those who save and plan for the future.
- In schools and universities our young people aren’t learning about the legacy of Western Civilisation that has given us our freedoms or that since 1990 capitalism has lifted one billion people out of poverty. Instead young people are being inculcated with political doctrines of complaint, grievance, and victimhood.
The nature of Australian democracy is also changing.
- Nearly half of all Australian families now receive more in government cash benefits than they pay in tax, while the top 10% of taxpayers pay 45% of all personal income tax. The top 1% of taxpayers pay 17% of all personal income tax.
- Trade unions, through their dominance of industry superannuation funds, control $1.4 trillion worth of assets. To put this into perspective that’s nearly as much as the total value of every company on the Australian stock exchange.
- The cost of red tape to the Australian economy is $176 billion each year, which makes red tape Australia’s biggest industry. The cost of all government regulation is much more than this amount. The cost of red tape is only the cost of unnecessary regulation.
As the constituency for bigger government, higher taxes, and more public spending grows the constituency arguing for lower taxes shrinks. The principle that individuals and families are best placed to make decisions affecting their lives has been replaced by the motto ‘government knows best’.
Just last month one of America’s most prestigious public policy publications, City Journal from The Manhattan Institute in New York featured a story about Australia’s declining middle class and the lessons for the United States. It was written by Joel Kotkin, America’s leading urban planning researcher. His perspective on Australia as an outsider is insightful. This is some of what he wrote:
Few places on earth are better suited for middle-class prosperity than Australia. From early in its history, when it was a refuge for British convicts, the vast, resource-rich country has provided an ideal environment for upward mobility, from the pioneering ranches of the nineteenth century to the middle-class suburbs of the late twentieth. [You can tell this was written by an American. Here in Australia we wouldn’t say ‘ranches’ – we’d say farms or stations.]
Over the last decade, though, Australia’s luck has changed, as the country develops many of the pathologies of crowded, socially divided societies like the United Kingdom or the United States. Despite being highly dependent on resource sales to China – largely coal, gas, oil, and iron ore – Australia has embraced green domestic politics more associated with the Manhattan liberals or Silicon Valley oligarchs than the prototypical unpretentious Aussie, often someone dependent on resource-based industries.
In Australia, according to the OECD, the portion of households considered middle class – that is, earning between three-quarter and double the average income – has been dropping by more than a percentage point per decade since the 1980s.
The size of the country’s middle class now ranks below the OECD average, and Australia’s middle-class millennials are likelier to sink into poverty than are those of all other advanced nations, except Greece and Latvia.
Between 1981 and 2016, property-ownership rates in Australia – a country with a strong tradition of middle and working-class homeownership – fell among 25 to 34-year-olds from more than 60% to 45%.
It’s sobering to watch the transformation of the socially democratic ‘lucky country’ into yet another nation advancing towards feudalism and social division.
But the process may not be inexorable, since it reflects policy decisions, not economic or social fundamentals.
I’ve underlined the last sentence of that passage because that’s the part that gives me cause for hope. Our future is not inexorable, or inevitable, or unstoppable. Our future is the result of the choices we make. Australia’s economic and social fundamentals can help lay the foundations for our freedom and our prosperity. But for this to happen Australians are going to have to want freedom and want prosperity.
All of this raises the key question:
Why are we losing freedom when freedom has made Australia the wonderful country we’re lucky enough to live in?
No doubt everyone has their own explanation, but I’ll give you mine. There’s many reasons, but I’ll give you three factors in particular that I think are important to help us make sense of what’s going on.
To begin with, I think we’re paying the price of success.
Australia has had 27 years of uninterrupted annual economic growth. We now hold the record for the longest length of time of recession-free growth for any developed country in the world. In recent years though the driver of economic growth in Australia hasn’t been improved productivity or efficiency – it’s because of population growth as a result of immigration. Australia’s population growth rate is double that of the United States or United Kingdom.
Uninterrupted economic growth has made us complacent and we’ve convinced ourselves that any government policy is affordable, regardless of the cost. It spoke volumes for the attitude of Australia’s political class that when Labor leader Bill Shorten was asked how much his climate change policies were going to cost he refused to answer and said it was a ‘dumb’ question. A few years ago such a response from a politician from one of the major parties would have been unthinkable.
In 2007 when Kevin Rudd claimed climate change was ‘the great moral challenge of our generation’ he was basically saying that anyone who questioned the science of climate change was immoral. Now in 2019 Bill Shorten claims anyone who questions the cost of his climate change policies is dumb. It’s clear that debate about climate change has long-since moved on from a discussion about science and economics and entered the realm of belief, not evidence.
The price of electricity for households in South Australia, New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria are all among the top ten most expensive prices in the world. Electricity for households in Australia costs 60% more than it does in Europe and is more than double what American families pay. Likewise, we think we can afford ever-increasing red tape.
In the United States while Donald Trump is slashing red tape to improve America’s international competitiveness, in Australia successive governments show no sign of slowing the growth of unnecessary regulation.
Our relatively low unemployment rate hides two things. The first is that the rate of underemployment has been steadily increasing with more than one million Australians looking for more work than they have. The second is that youth unemployment is nearly 12%. Politicians have long ceased telling the public the fundamental truth that ‘the best form of welfare is a job’.
The hope that the economics of the next 27 years will be like the last 27 years has meant that policymakers haven’t been forced to confront government debt. The gross debt of the federal government is approximately $560 billion. This year the government will spend $17.8 billion on interest on that debt which is more than is spent on either income support for people with disabilities or unemployment benefits. And remember this level of debt has nearly all been incurred in the last ten years and while the economy has been growing. If there’s a global economic downturn Australia will be in a very difficult situation indeed.
Next, there’s the failure of the major political parties to defend either economic or political freedom.
It’s certainly true that Labor, for nearly all of its history, has been the party of high taxes and big government, there once was a time when at least some of its MPs believed in freedom of speech. That time has long since passed.
Under Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard the Labor government attempted to impose government censorship of the press and tried to extend Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act to make it unlawful to offend someone because of their political beliefs which would have shut down political debate in Australia entirely. More recently Labor has said it will give more power to the Australian Human Rights Commission to prosecute cases of ‘hate speech’ that break that law under Section 18C. Of course what’s never acknowledged by Labor is that the power of the Australian Human Rights Commission to prosecute so-called ‘hate speech’ has been used against Andrew Bolt when he wrote a person’s skin colour shouldn’t be the basis on which to allocate government grants, against students at the Queensland University of Technology who wrote on Facebook that student classrooms shouldn’t be segregated according to race, and against Bill Leak for a cartoon he drew highlighting the plight of some Aboriginal families. There’s absolutely no grounds whatsoever on which any of these three cases could be regarded as ‘hate speech’ yet somehow this is what Australia has come to.
Unfortunately, the Liberals have not been much better.
The Liberal Party increased the top marginal rate of personal income tax, introduced a special tax on the banks, and attempted to retrospectively change the tax rules on superannuation. Some people have argued the Liberal Party should only focus on economic issues because topics like our culture, the condition of the education system, and freedom of religion are too controversial. I disagree. Such an argument underestimates the Australian people and accepts the view that the Liberal Party should only follow public opinion, not attempt to lead it.
Tony Abbott broke his promise to repeal Section 18C and Malcolm Turnbull made a half-hearted effort to make some minor amendments to the way the law was administered. And of course in 2017 Scott Morrison said about freedom of speech – ‘I know this issue doesn’t create one job, doesn’t open one business, doesn’t give anyone one extra hour. It doesn’t make housing more affordable or energy more affordable’. This was an incredible comment. It’s even more incredible given that the Liberal Party Statement of Beliefs says – ‘We believe in those most basic freedoms of parliamentary democracy – the freedom of thought, worship, speech and association.’ It shouldn’t be forgotten that the prosecution by the Australian Human Rights Commission of the QUT students and of Bill Leak happened under a Coalition government.
Why Labor and the Liberals have turned into what they’ve become is a topic for another day. Perhaps it’s because of the rise of career politicians who have more in common with each other than the people they’re supposed to represent. For the moment though it’s sufficient to simply say on present indications, that for as long as our major political parties proceed down the path they’re going, freedom in Australia is going to have to be advanced outside of the current political process. Politicians can’t be relied upon to lead public opinion, especially when it comes to something as fundamental as our basic human rights.
When the great Mark Steyn visited Australia a few years ago as a guest of the IPA, he quoted what Milton Friedman said about politicians:
“I do not believe that the solution to our problem is simply to elect the right people. The important thing is to establish a political climate of opinion which will make it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing. Unless it is politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing, the right people will not do the right thing either, or if they try, they will shortly be out of office.”
My final point on this is that we’ve forgotten one of the essential truths from history about freedom. You don’t only have to fight to get freedom. You have to fight to keep freedom.
The fact that you can’t set and forget freedom was brought home to me dramatically in 2012 when the Labor government appointed a committee that recommended introducing laws to censor the press in Australia. At the time I was in disbelief. Press censorship in Britain had been abolished in 1695. It was an absolutely outrageous proposal which, in large part because of the work of the IPA, Labor ultimately abandoned.
This is some of what I wrote at the time in my column in The Australian Financial Review:
A FAILURE TO DEFEND LIBERTY
This time last week the Gillard government released the report of the Independent Inquiry into Media and Media Regulation.
To make the media more ‘accountable’ and impose ‘professional standards’, Finkelstein recommended the creation of a News Media Council to licence the press and censor news reporting and political commentary. The Council could order offending articles to be altered or permanently censored. There would be no appeal. Disobeying the Council could result in a fine or imprisonment.
The jurisdiction of the News Media Council would extend to practically any opinion on current affairs expressed in print or online. A blog site visited by literally one or two people a day would fall within the ambit of the Council.
Finkelstein’s recommendations are profoundly illiberal and undemocratic.
Finkelstein’s ideological position is not hard to find. It’s in paragraph 4.10 of his report. He thinks a Council should control speech in Australia because most people are too dumb or ignorant to decide for themselves about what they see and hear and read in the media. Finkelstein writes, ‘often, however, readers are not in a position to make an appropriately informed judgment’.
This is intellectual arrogance at its most breathtaking. This is the totalitarian fallacy: don’t let the people decide (because the people are too stupid), let judges and academics decide for them. The left no longer demands ‘free’ speech – it wants ‘balanced and responsible’ speech.
[In response to the report, Malcolm] Turnbull issued a meandering and mealy-mouthed statement that left open the possibility of the Coalition supporting some or all of Finkelstein’s recommendations. [Malcolm Turnbull was then the Coalition shadow minister for communications.] Turnbull said the report ‘deserves careful study and community discussion’.
No it does not. The report is bad from beginning to end and should be completely and unambiguously rejected by the Coalition.
The reason I’m quoting what I wrote in March 2012 is not so I could talk about Malcolm Turnbull’s bad judgment.
I mention this to demonstrate two things. The first is to remind ourselves of our success in defeating something so dangerous as a government-appointed and operated ‘News Media Council’.
The second reason I mention it is to show that dangerous ideas never go away. Today, more than seven years later, the Greens are still pushing for the establishment of something very similar to a ‘News Media Council’, while the Labor Party says it wants to control ‘hate’ speech. In 2012 the justification from the left for government control over what we can say, and by implication therefore what we’re allowed to think, was that the media needed to be ‘balanced and responsible’. In 2019 the justification is that ‘hate’ speech must be eliminated. In a few years’ time no doubt the left will have some new justification for the censorship of the press and restricting freedom of speech. But while the justification might change, the ultimate purpose doesn’t. Opponents of freedom of speech and freedom of thought always want to give themselves the power to decide what other people can say and think.
The battle for freedom is never over because someone is always trying to take that freedom away.
When we talk about institutions we tend to think in terms of things and processes. So for example we think about the family, or organised religion, or parliament, or the free market economy. We probably don’t tend to think about freedom which is both an idea and a human institution we’ve created that must be nurtured and cared for.
The British writer G.K. Chesterton made this profound observation about institutions:
If you leave a thing along you leave it to a torrent of change. If you leave a white post alone it will soon be a black post. If you particularly want it to be white you must be always painting it again; that is, you must be always having a revolution. Briefly, if you want the old white post you must have a new white post.
One of my heroes, Ronald Reagan, in his inauguration speech after he was elected the governor of California in 1967 spoke about the obligation upon us that arises from the ‘torrent of change’:
Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance, it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. Those who have known freedom and then lost it have never known it again.
Here in this country, just a few weeks ago in an article in The Australian newspaper that same sentiment was expressed about the cases of Peter Ridd and Israel Folau. The piece was written by Tor Hundloe, a professor at the University of Queensland, and talks in particular about freedom of intellectual inquiry at universities. Hundloe didn’t grow up in Australia, he grew up in Europe. This is some of what he wrote:
I read Norman Mailer’s World War II tome The Naked and the Dead when I was a youngster and could not help noticing that, when things went wrong, soldiers exclaimed ‘fug!’
I came to understand the notion of self-censorship. I was somewhat troubled because I had been taught at school that censorship was wrong and only Hitler burned books, which was the extreme form of censorship.
I subsequently was to discover many other countries, including my own, banned books. Where am I going with this? A sacred place, if you will – free speech.
Until I retired from Bond University in 2016, I was president of the Bond University staff association. During my time in the association we had to negotiate the right of free speech for academics. I had taken free speech to be a given before discovering it has to be argued for and defended time and time again. I believed the battle had been fought and won in the late 1960s.
I have believed all my life that academics, and I would hope all citizens in a democratic society, live and act in accordance with the famous edit: ‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.’ This is often attributed to Voltaire; however it does not matter if they are not his words.
John Stuart Mill in On Liberty explains the concept: ‘If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that person than he, if he had the power, would be in silencing mankind.’
Mill’s ethic applies to all subject matter, scientific views, moral arguments and theological matters.
Here, I think of Ridd. He is not the only one with his views but would appear to have very few scientists as supporters. Let him have his say – it does no harm if it is wrong and, unlikely that it be, only good if he is right.
I am not of the same mind as either of these two. In the case of Ridd, I am concerned with climate change and chair a specialist climate change section of the professional body for environmental practitioners, the Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand.
And, with regard to Folau, I do not share his religious beliefs any more than I share those of others who do not treat all humans as equal.
I spent 40 years as a university-based scholar, following 13 years in outback shearing sheds. I left school at 14 and had to take four years of night school to gain entry to university. I am afraid the university I entered – in a generic sense – is becoming a different place, and this is to the detriment of society.
I’ve underlined those two sentences that struck me as especially powerful. The only thing that I’d disagree with Hundloe on is where he says that Peter Ridd has very few scientists as supporters. In fact, many scientists agree with Peter – it’s just that they’re afraid to say so publicly for fear of what it might do to their careers.
Hundloe was President of the Queensland Conservation Council, Councillor of the Australian Conservation Foundation and Chair of Keep Australia Beautiful. In the 1970s he was a radical environmentalist and in the 1974 federal election he ran for the Australian Senate on a left-wing green platform. (He didn’t win.) What Hundloe wrote is significant because as he says he doesn’t agree with Peter when it comes to the science of climate change.
(On the day his article appeared I emailed Hundloe and asked him whether he’d be willing to write about freedom of speech for the IPA Review. I was thrilled when he said yes.)
This gives me the opportunity to say something about the Peter Ridd case.
As you know Peter was Professor of Physics at James Cook University in Townsville. Peter had worked and been involved with the university for more than thirty years. In 2017 Peter
wrote a chapter for the IPA’s Climate Change: The Facts 2017 in which he argued that there is very little scientific evidence to support the claim that climate change is destroying the Great Barrier Reef.
Furthermore, climate change is only one of many claimed stressors causing damage to the Great Barrier Reef; others include sediments, nutrients and pesticides from agriculture. I have investigated these supposed threats and they are even less convincing and more contrived than the claimed effects of climate change.
But challenges to the conventional wisdom are typically ignored, largely drowned out and sidelined by the majority. There is now an industry that employs thousands of people whose job is it to ‘save the Great Barrier Reef’. As a scientist, to question the proposition that the reef is damaged is a potentially career-ending move.
So what is the solution? The fundamental problem is that we can no longer rely on ‘the science’, or for that matter our major scientific institutions.
In 2018 Peter was sacked from his job by the university. The university claimed that Peter had breached its code of conduct because he had criticised his colleagues in what he wrote in Climate Change: The Facts 2017 and said in subsequent media interviews about the book, particularly in one interview Peter did with Alan Jones on Sky News.
Peter decided to fight his sacking on the basis that the enterprise agreement between the university and its staff protected his intellectual freedom.
To fund his legal case Peter raised $260,000 in four days from 2,405 donations. That was an incredible result and revealed the public depth of feeling about the case. The IPA helped pay Peter’s legal fees and has supported him over these last two years.
On 16 April this year, Peter won his case in the Federal Circuit Court of Australia after a three-day trial. Judge Vasta ruled that the termination of his employment by the university was unlawful. Despite Peter’s victory the case is still ongoing because there will be court hearings as to whether Peter will be able to return to the university – which is all that Peter has ever wanted from his case.
In his judgment Judge Vasta said this about why intellectual freedom is so important:
It allows the human race to question conventional wisdom in the never-ending search for knowledge and truth. And that, at its core, is what higher learning is about. To suggest otherwise is to ignore why universities were created and why critically focussed academics remain central to all that university teaching claims to offer.
Peter’s victory isn’t only a personal victory for him. Peter had the courage of his convictions to stand up and be counted because he believed that he should have the right to exercise his freedom of speech on climate change.
The foundation of the IPA’s commitment to Peter Ridd isn’t just because his court case arose from a chapter he wrote in a book for the IPA, and it isn’t just because the topic of that book was climate change which is a policy issue the IPA has been deeply engaged in for twenty . years. Nor is it just because intellectual freedom is essential to scientific inquiry.
The IPA’s commitment to Peter Ridd and his case is because what lies at the heart of intellectual freedom, namely freedom of speech and freedom of thought, is fundamental to all human endeavour in every aspect of our lives. Without those freedoms we’re not truly human.
How the IPA will use your donation
Given I’ve just been talking about Peter Ridd, the first thing you need to know about your donation to the IPA’s 2019 End of Financial Year Appeal is that we’re going to keep on supporting Peter.
On 1 July I’ll have been the Executive Director for fourteen years. I started in 2005. Over my time at the IPA I’ve come to realise something that I think about every day. The policy research we do must always be centred on understanding how policy will impact on people’s lives. Good policy can make people’s lives better. Bad policy and the bad things that governments do make people’s lives worse. And when something makes a person’s life worse it’s not just a single person affected – as members of the same community we’re all affected too.
I’m proud of all of the IPA’s work. But what I’m most proud of is the IPA’s support for Andrew Bolt, Calum Thwaites (one of the QUT students) and Bill Leak. They were all prosecuted or threatened with prosecution for exercising their fundamental human right of freedom of speech. To that list of brave and incredible people I would now add Peter Ridd.
Without the financial support of the members of the IPA none of what the IPA did would have been possible.
The IPA will keep on researching and analysing the case and its consequences and we’ll keep on communicating to the Australian community why what’s happened to Peter and his victory is so important.
More broadly, we’ll devote your donation to the three strategic priorities of the IPA.
Those strategic priorities are:
- to produce policy research of outstanding quality;
- to communicate with young people about freedom;
- to utilise digital technology to communicate about the IPA’s research.
The IPA’s policy research is divided into specific programs such as the Foundations of Western Civilisation Program, Cut Red Tape to Unleash Prosperity, The Dignity of Work Project, Legal Rights Project, and Criminal Justice Project. All of these programs are going from strength to strength and continue to grow in importance for the future of Australia. I think in the next three years policy debates on economics, tax, and industrial relations will dominate public discussion and the IPA’s voice for free markets and lower taxes and smaller government will become particularly important.
You’ll notice the word ‘communicate’ features in two of those three strategic priorities. That’s not an accident. It doesn’t matter how deeply researched or how beautifully written or how persuasive a 100-page research report is if it sits in a filing cabinet somewhere and no-one knows about it. Similarly, you can’t complain that more than 50% of young people have a favourable opinion of socialism if they never hear about the benefits of capitalism and free markets.
That’s why we’re putting so much effort into what we call the IPA’s ‘Digital Transformation’, which involves the construction of a brand new media studio for the production of the IPA’s videos, films, and podcasts, and an active and vigorous use of social media. Five years ago the IPA produced ten minutes of original video content that was watched 100,000 times. Last year we produced 340 minutes of original content that was watched 900,000 times.
In any given week the IPA communicates directly with 65,000 people through social media including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. Through the regular appearances of IPA staff in the print and broadcast media our message reaches another 500,000 to 800,000 Australians.
Generation Liberty is the name of the IPA’s program for young people. Generation Liberty has a full-time manager and employs thirteen young people on a part-time basis as IPA Campus Coordinators to work at thirteen universities around Australia coordinating events and producing and distributing education materials to students. We’ve set two ambitious but achievable goals for Generation Liberty for the next three years. The first is for the IPA to have an IPA Campus Coordinator in all 43 universities in Australia. The second is to directly communicate at least once a week with 10% of all young Australians – that’s about 300,000 young people. At the moment the IPA is directly communicating with around 15,000 young Australians a week. Increasing 20-fold the IPA’s communication about freedom to young people is certainly an ambitious target, but it’s a completely necessary target.
If I was to sum up in a few words what we’ll do with your donation it would be – ‘to make a difference to the future of Australia’.
I realise this isn’t a short letter to you but given that I’m asking you for a financial donation to support the work of the IPA it was important to tell you not just what the IPA does, but why we do it.
The IPA exists because in 1943 in the midst of the Second World War the IPA was founded to further the individual, social, and political freedom of the Australian people.
The task of enabling human flourishing is as important today in 2019 as it was 75 years ago.
Thank you for your support.
PS – You can make your tax deductible donation to support the IPA’s research by returning the enclosed donation form or making a direct debit according to the details on the form or by ringing the IPA on 03 9600 4744 and talking with Fransisca Meiling to make a donation over the phone.