Flags, white vans and dodgy shirts

November 27, 2014

From Peter Gregory

How do you know you’ve arrived as a social phenomenon? When you get more boos than Rupert Murdoch at a Save the ABC rally. That’s what happened to the IPA in Sydney last Saturday. And that’s even before James Paterson’s article about the ABC in the AFR yesterday.

Christine Milne also chimed in with this tweet saying the IPA runs the government. Her time would be better spent reading this excellent piece in The Times from IPA guest Matt Ridley explaining that Greens’ policies harm the world’s poorest people.

Who knew that flags and white vans could cause so much trouble? 

Click here to find out why this tweeted image cost British Shadow Attorney-General Emily Thornberry her job and made Labour leader Ed Miliband really, really mad. Boris Johnston wrote in The Telegraph on Monday that Miliband should get a ‘Darwin Award‘.

Boris has been busy recently. This week it was flags and white vans. Last week it was dodgy shirts.

This is terrible – a proposal to make speakers at British universities apply to the Home Secretary for a permit to give speeches to students (a permit for politicians to tweet images of white vans I could understand). But as Brendan O’Neill explains in The Spectator, there is a new breed of student that doesn’t want free speech – the Stepford student.

What do the NSW Labor Right and the Queensland Liberal National Party have in common? If you answered ‘Bitcoins’ I’m impressed. This is an interesting piece in yesterday’s Guardian by ALP Senator Sam Dastyari and Liberal National Senator Matthew Canavan about the benefits of competition in currency markets brought about by Bitcoins.

American economist Gary Becker died in May this year. This 3,427 word piece in the current edition of City Journal explains how his influence will grow after his death.

And IPA guest Dan Hannan pondered IPA guest Roger Scruton’s achievements and what it means to be conservative in The Telegraph on Monday.

The Menzies Research Centre is launching the inaugural essay in the RG Menzies Essays series, ‘Quiet Achievers: The New Zealand Path to Reform’ in early December. Here are the details for Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne.

Here’s what else the IPA said this week:

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Cuts to ABC, not to China’s emissions

November 20, 2014

From James Paterson

You’ve probably heard about the ‘gigantic’ and ‘extraordinary’ deal Barack Obama secured with China to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Except there’s just one problem. Only one country has actually promised to reduce emissions:

(Via the IPA’s professor Sinclair Davidson at the excellent Catallaxy Files blog.)

If you’re looking for analysis of the cuts to the ABC and SBS budgets, we’ve got you covered. In The Courier Mail on Wednesday the IPA’s Simon Breheny said the 5% cut is a good start. On ABC Radio National last night I said ultimately both the ABC and SBS should be privatised. And this morning on The Conversation IPA Adjunct Fellow and RMIT professor Jason Potts explained why economic theory proves taxpayers will be better off thanks to the reduced funding.

In America this week everyone’s been talking about the latest scandal to afflict Obamacare: Grubergate. Never heard of it? This is a great rundown from John Fund at the National Review on Monday, and this video compilation chronicles Democrats’ embarrassing efforts to distance themselves from it. In The Washington Post last week Charles Krauthammer outlined what it means for Obama’s presidency.

Billionaire libertarian Peter Thiel has an important new book Zero to One: Notes on Startups, Or How to Build the Future. Watch Thiel discuss the book, and his views on climate change, in this interview with Glenn Beck. And read this fascinating review in Forbes last week on what we can learn from Thiel about economics and why the higher education system is so broken.

Next June is the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. In the November edition of Standpoint, historian Andrew Roberts reviews two of the best new books examining the battle and its aftermath. Roberts was the keynote speaker at the IPA’s 2011 Foundations of Western Civilisation Symposium – watch his address on the legacy of the English-speaking peoples.

IPA member Peter Fenwick’s new book, published by Connor Court, The Fragility of Freedom: Why Subsidiarity Matters, will be launched in Melbourne on Monday 1 December by former federal health minister Jim Carlton. More details about the book and the launch are available here.

There are still some places available for the IPA’s Sydney event, ‘Liberty in the Digital Age’, on Thursday 11 December with LDP Senator David Leyonhjelm and Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson. Click here to secure your place.

Here’s what else the IPA said this week:

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Comparing oranges to lawnmowers

November 13, 2014

From Peter Gregory

You know how we’re always told Australia is a low-taxing nation? Even Treasury has fallen for the line that Australia has the 5th lowest tax rate in the OECD (this is the same Treasury that brought us ‘StimulusGate‘). Sure, Australia is a low-taxing nation if you compare oranges to lawnmowers. But if you compare oranges to oranges, as the IPA’s Dr Mikayla Novak has in forthcoming research, Australia has higher taxes than the OECD average.


When was the last time someone described climate change policies as ‘industrial scale rent-seeking‘ on Q&A? The answer is last Monday, when the IPA’s James Paterson was on the show.


If you thought that was unusual, at the end of this clip James even gets applauded by the audience! Q&A really is the IPA’s favourite TV show – an IPA member even sent us this video of their new intro for the program.

Last Sunday was the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. If you are pessimistic about the future of freedom read this post from Cato on Tuesday. Then watch this video from the Competitive Enterprise Institute from the 20th anniversary. It begins with Reagan’s famous ‘tear down this wall!’ speech. John Roskam wrote in 2009 in the IPA Review how Reagan had to fight with cautious officials to have the iconic line included. 

This excellent piece in Standpoint this month describes the end of communism as truth defeating falsehood. But it was just as much about the small things as the big things. For one Czech cab driver Mikayla Novak spoke to it meant a larger choice of yoghurt. For Boris Yeltsin, it meant frozen pudding pops.

Ever dreaded making a phone call to apologise? Check out how Reagan handled it in this recording released on Tuesday – he’s calling Margaret Thatcher to apologise for invading Grenada, a Commonwealth country, without her knowledge in 1983.

And what would Reagan say about this? A 90-year-old man in Florida who was arrested last week for feeding the homeless was arrested again a few days later for the same thing.

There are two great events in Melbourne coming up in the next couple of weeks. Connor Court Publishing and the Menzies Research Centre are launching a new book, A Better Class of Sunset: Collected Works of Christopher Pearson. Details here. And the HR Nicholls Society is holding its Annual Dinner. Details here.  

Here’s what else the IPA said this week:

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To be or not to be…in the National Curriculum

November 6, 2014

From Peter Gregory

Can you guess how many times Shakespeare is mentioned in Australia’s National Curriculum of English? If you said none, you’d be wrong. He’s mentioned once in an example sentence in the glossary. Unfortunately, the example sentence chosen is hardly likely to encourage 14-year-olds to rush out and get a copy of King Lear – ‘Because I am reading Shakespeare, my time is limited.’

On Tuesday, the IPA released a new research report, ‘Australia’s English Curriculum: A critique‘ by Stephanie Forrest and Carla Schodde. The IPA’s Hannah Pandel was on The Alan Jones Show on 2GB yesterday morning talking about the report and Stephanie had this piece in The Australian on Tuesday.


This piece in The Federalist also on Tuesday is spot-on when it says the US mid-term elections were about Obama’s failed presidency.

The great economist Gordon Tullock died on Monday. Tullock greatly enhanced our understanding of rent-seeking and the bureaucratic process. The IPA’s Mikayla Novak had this piece in today’s Financial Review on Tullock’s contribution to economics. This list of Tullock’s best insults in Marginal Revolution from Alex Tabarrok in 2006 is also very funny.

On Tuesday Boris Johnson made a speech at a Spectator event in London about his new Churchill biography. You can listen to it here.

And this is a brilliant piece that was in The Wall Street Journal last Saturday about how the right to be offended is threatening free speech in Britain and the US.

On Monday Christine Milne said ‘Coal is bad for humanity‘. Really? I’m not sure the 832 million people in developing countries who gained access to electricity because of coal between 1990 and 2010 would agree.

Milne was responding to the release of the latest IPCC report. James Delingpole had his own response in Breitbart on Monday. For all you need to know about global energy, re-live author Robert Bryce’s address to the IPA in September.

Here is your guilty pleasure for Thursday afternoon – Michael Moynihan in The Daily Beast on Monday on why Russell Brand’s new (new?) political manifesto Revolution is rubbish.

The November edition of Reason magazine has this long piece on why the free market is behind the current golden age of television. In October Reason also made this cool video of ‘The 5 best libertarian TV shows ever‘ (to go with their video from last week in Hey of the ‘The 5 most anti-libertarian shows ever‘). And remember when we told you in Hey what the IPA’s favourite TV show was?

Speaking of the free market making television better, the IPA’s James Paterson will be appearing on the IPA’s favourite TV show (the ABC’s Q&A) on Monday.

Here’s what else the IPA said this week:

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Institute of Public Affairs | Level 2 | 410 Collins Street | Melbourne | Victoria | 3000 | Australia

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