The Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) is a conservative, corporate-funded Australian think tank. It opposes environmental regulations, downplays environmental problems and attacks environmentalists.
Its most recent campaigns have involved defending the use of palm oil, exaggerating the costs of renewable energy, opposing the proposed emissions trading scheme, supporting the concept of a sustainable whaling industry and promoting genetic engineering. The IPA has also played a key role in promoting climate change skepticism in Australia (see Global Warming section of this website ) and has promoted uranium mining and nuclear power for Australia. It also advocates the siting of a nuclear waste dump in Australia.
The IPA has led the attacks in Australia against NGOs including environmental groups.
The IPA has frequently made wild and sneering accusations about NGOs, employing terms such as 'cashed up NGO's', a 'dictatorship of the articulate' and a 'tyranny of the minorities', 'mail-order memberships of the wealthy left, content to buy their activism, and get on with their consumer lifestyle' and so on.
The IPA's NGO Watch project is described here.
Funders of the IPA have included various mining and manufacturing companies such as ExxonMobil, Visyboard, Rio Tinto, Western Mining Corporation and BHP Billiton as well as Monsanto, Philip Morris, British American Tobacco, Telstra, Caltex and Shell. Its board has included executives from companies such as Rio Tinto, Western Mining Corporation, Shell, and Philip Morris.
John Roskam (pictured), had been Manager of Government and Corporate Affairs for Rio Tinto (the company name has since been removed from his IPA profile page) as well as chief of staff to David Kemp, the Federal Minister for Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs in the Howard liberal government.
In 2004 the IPA ran a forum "Reclaiming the Environment" (program available here) and in advertisements for the event which aimed to form an anti-environmentalist movement it claimed:
Environmental fundamentalism is denying farmers, foresters, fishermen, prospectors, miners, beekeepers, 4WD enthusiasts and others access rights, property rights, water rights.
It is also generating excessive red tape and harming the environment. The wrong-headed "hands off, leave it to nature" approach is destroying our National Parks.
These are national issues requiring national, grass-roots action. Be a part of the Inaugural Eureka Forum and help build a strong national network.
The IPA played a role in the subsequent 2005 establishment of the corporate front group, the Australian Environment Foundation (AEF). Jennifer Marohasy of the IPA has stood in as temporary chair as well as being a director. Michael Nahan, then executive director of IPA was also a founding director of AEF.