Other Group

Institute of Public Affairs

Website:

ipa.org.au/

Type:

Public Policy Think Tank

Formation:

1943

Executive Director:

Scott Hargreaves

Location:

Melbourne, Australia

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The Institute of Public Affairs is an Australian right-of-center public policy think tank. Its research primarily focuses on protecting freedom of speech, securing Australia’s borders, protecting property rights, and supporting a free marketplace of ideas. The organization also supports evidence-based public policy, the free flow of capital, and limited government. 1

The Institute of Public Affairs was accused of attempting to “indoctrinate students” by providing a classroom lesson plan that taught students how to make arguments against the Indigenous Voice to Parliament referendum on October 14, 2023. 2 IPA stated on X/Twitter, that the free guide was to help students participate in discussions on citizenship and national civics, learn facts and arguments from both sides, and assist the students in developing a “balanced and informed judgment.” 3

Background

The Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) was founded in 1943 as an educational research organization. 4

The organization states that it does not receive nor look for funding from the Australian government and, though it used to be “financed entirely by large businesses,” is instead funded by donations and membership fees from more than 9,000 members. 5 6 7

IPA established five main points of focus for its research, including a focus on protecting freedom of speech, securing Australia’s borders and protecting property rights, and supporting a free marketplace of ideas. 8

The organization holds conferences and lectures across Australia and publishes the IPA Review, the longest-running political magazine in the country. IPA also publishes research papers on issues such as energy and the environment, the “realities of socialism,” criminal justice, and the national curriculum. IPA has also published books on topics relating to climate science and policy, political philosophy, and economic liberalization. 9

Voice to Parliament

The Institute of Public Affairs was accused of attempting to “indoctrinate students” by providing a classroom lesson plan that taught students how to make arguments against the Indigenous Voice to Parliament referendum on October 14, 2023. 10

The Voice to Parliament began when 250 Indigenous community leaders called for a constitutionally enshrined “voice” in Australian parliament, a treaty, and a commission to oversee the process. They also said they would not accept a statement of acknowledgment but would only accept “substantive constitutional change and structural reform.” 11

IPA distributed a 34-page teaching guide and workbook on Australian history, English, and civics, and Indigenous studies. IPA stated on X/Twitter, that the guide was to help students participate in discussions on citizenship and national civics, learn facts and arguments from both sides, and assist the students in developing a “balanced and informed judgment.” 12

The Australian Education Union (AEU) claimed that the resource was a “shallow attempt to inflict their conservative views on students in schools,” adding that it would “fiercely oppose any such moves by private and political organizations that seek to indoctrinate students.” The Australian Education Union, which had pledged its support for the Indigenous Voice to Parliament campaign, claimed that the IPA’s actions were “a cynical attempt to influence and interfere in Australia’s democratic processes via the education system.” 13

IPA deputy executive director Daniel Wild stated that AEU was “on the record as explicitly supporting the Voice to Parliament, which completely undermines the AEU’s capacity to provide students and teachers with a balanced view on this critical matter.” He also said that it was “deeply concerning” that AEU tried “to prevent open and balanced analysis occurring in classrooms ahead of this vital referendum.” 14

According to ABC Investigations, IPA said it “does not support or oppose the Voice to Parliament” but did list itself in the teaching guide as a resource for information on the “no” argument. 15 The 2023 referendum on the Voice to Parliament was defeated, with over 60 percent of Australian voters opposed and no Australian state providing majority support. 16

Financial Information

According to its annual report in 2023, the Institute of Public Affairs’ total income amounted to a total of A$11.6 million (approximately $7.6 million) while its expenses amounted to A$8.56 million (around $5.6 million). 17

According to the annual report, IPA received 3,682 donations of up to A$999, 519 donations ranging from A$1,000 to A$99,000, 21 donations ranging from A$100,000 to A$199,000, and nine donations of A$200,000 and above. 18

References

  1. “About Us.” Institute of Public Affairs. Accessed June 17, 2024. https://ipa.org.au/about.
  2. McGrath, Pat. “Conservative think tank IPA accused of indoctrinating school children with Voice to Parliament lesson plan.” ABC News. September 8, 2023. Accessed June 17, 2024. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-09-09/ipa-criticised-for-voice-parliament-classroom-plan/102833626.
  3. McGrath, Pat. “Conservative think tank IPA accused of indoctrinating school children with Voice to Parliament lesson plan.” ABC News. September 8, 2023. Accessed June 17, 2024. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-09-09/ipa-criticised-for-voice-parliament-classroom-plan/102833626.
  4. “About Us.” Institute of Public Affairs. Accessed June 17, 2024. https://ipa.org.au/about.
  5. “About Us.” Institute of Public Affairs. Accessed June 17, 2024. https://ipa.org.au/about.
  6. “Join – 2024.” Institute of Public Affairs. Accessed June 17, 2024. https://members.ipa.org.au/join/.
  7. “2023 Annual Report.” Institute of Public Affairs. Accessed June 17, 2024. https://ipa.org.au/publications-ipa/annual-report/2023-annual-report.
  8. “About Us.” Institute of Public Affairs. Accessed June 17, 2024. https://ipa.org.au/about.
  9. “Programs.” Institute of Public Affairs. Accessed June 17, 2024. https://ipa.org.au/programs.
  10. McGrath, Pat. “Conservative think tank IPA accused of indoctrinating school children with Voice to Parliament lesson plan.” ABC News. September 8, 2023. Accessed June 17, 2024. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-09-09/ipa-criticised-for-voice-parliament-classroom-plan/102833626
  11. News, BBC. “Australian indigenous leaders call for formal ‘voice’, path to treaty.” BBC News. May 26, 2017. Accessed June 17, 2024. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-australia-40040145
  12. McGrath, Pat. “Conservative think tank IPA accused of indoctrinating school children with Voice to Parliament lesson plan.” ABC News. September 8, 2023. Accessed June 17, 2024. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-09-09/ipa-criticised-for-voice-parliament-classroom-plan/102833626.
  13. McGrath, Pat. “Conservative think tank IPA accused of indoctrinating school children with Voice to Parliament lesson plan.” ABC News. September 8, 2023. Accessed June 17, 2024. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-09-09/ipa-criticised-for-voice-parliament-classroom-plan/102833626.
  14. McGrath, Pat. “Conservative think tank IPA accused of indoctrinating school children with Voice to Parliament lesson plan.” ABC News. September 8, 2023. Accessed June 17, 2024. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-09-09/ipa-criticised-for-voice-parliament-classroom-plan/102833626.
  15. McGrath, Pat. “Conservative think tank IPA accused of indoctrinating school children with Voice to Parliament lesson plan.” ABC News. September 8, 2023. Accessed June 17, 2024. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-09-09/ipa-criticised-for-voice-parliament-classroom-plan/102833626.
  16. Australian Electoral Commission. “National Results for the 2023 Federal Referendum.” Australian Electoral Commission, November 7, 2023. https://results.aec.gov.au/29581/Website/ReferendumNationalResults-29581.htm.
  17. “2023 Annual Report.” Institute of Public Affairs. Accessed June 17, 2024. https://ipa.org.au/publications-ipa/annual-report/2023-annual-report.
  18. “2023 Annual Report.” Institute of Public Affairs. Accessed June 17, 2024. https://ipa.org.au/publications-ipa/annual-report/2023-annual-report.
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