Oct 24, 2017

Documents show libertarian lobby gets a helping hand from big government

While the Institute of Public Affairs likes government kept small, it's happy to use its research services where it can take them.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

The Institute of Public Affairs famously likes its government as it likes its coffee -- small, white and bitter. But not so much that it's not prepared to use government as a research arm.

In documents unearthed via freedom of information laws and discussed at Monday's Finance and Public Administration Senate estimates hearings, Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) head and industrial relations hardliner John Lloyd used his work email account to chat with his erstwhile colleagues at the Institute of Public Affairs in 2015. He exchanges what passes for cheeky badinage among the libertarian set, asking an unnamed IPA interlocutor if he's upset about losing his mantle of "IPA pin up boy" to Lloyd (we can only assume he's emailing the passably handsome Simon Breheny, not now-Senator James Paterson).

Free Trial

You've hit members-only content.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

14 thoughts on “Documents show libertarian lobby gets a helping hand from big government

  1. Saugoof

    “The Institute of Public Affairs famously likes its government as it likes its coffee — small, white and bitter.” – That’s perfect!

  2. CML

    This is outrageous…I’d like to see what would happen to a Labor MP who leaked info to a union.

  3. ken chapman

    This isn’t acceptable for a public servant to provide information to a lobbyist unless cleared by public service PMC. Seems both sides are assisting their respective think tanks or lobbying wing. RW Conservatives for IPA, LW socialists (alleged Bill Shorten gave lots of union funds) for GetUp.

    Bernard why don’t you do a comparison for “independent” political organisations like GetUp, Grattan Institute & IPA for their funding and if AEC agrees they are independent?

    1. Mike Smith

      Getup are funded by individuals.

      1. ken chapman

        Seems that GetUp’s funding came from individuals via their unions.

    2. Charlie Chaplin

      Well, this article addresses the IPA’s independence and I can’t comment on the Grattan Institute, but it seems the AEC have investigated Get Up’s independence twice – first in 2005 and again in 2010- and both times found Get Up to be independent. It seems Crikey took note of your comment, Ken, because here’s the article:


    1. Saugoof

      I’m not sure what the issue is. Looking at that compass, it is quite possible for a libertarian to be right wing, left wing or in the centre. “Right Wing Libertarian” describes the IPA quite well really.

      1. Mike Smith

        True, Left wing libertarians would be Green, rw would be Leyonjholm. (and the IPA I guess)
        The sigh is that being Libertarian is more being anti-Authoritarian. Something we all ought to be, no?

  4. AR

    I look forward to the AFP going mob handed into the IPA to ascertain its very lavish funding as today they raided the AWU over a donation to GetUp.
    Oh look, Porcus Avitrix.

  5. klewso

    Meanwhile the AFP have raided the AWU offices (re “donations”) in a highly publicised (media there before) operation (reminiscent of MT’s NBNgate, May 2016?) – a nice distraction from their raid on that cotton farm (National Party donor?) on the Darling, involving $millions?

  6. Paul Munro

    Bernard Keane’s article illustrates the way in which Australian Public Service Commissioner John Lloyd sees it as consistent with his role to feed research material and commentary to a neo-conservative politically partisan lobbyist think-tank, the Institute of Public Affairs. Lloyd seems to bask in the attribution of being the ” IPA pin up boy”. He provided the IPA unilaterally with a paper “Examples of generous arrangements in Cth enterprise agreements.”
    I am among many still sufficiently conservative in outlook to cherish the concept of an independent well resourced and fairly remunerated Australian Public Service. Part of that conception is that the statutory officeholder who occupies the position held by Lloyd will act in the tradition of Sir Frederick Wheeler and uphold the values central to maintaining the ethos and functional capacity of the APS.
    Lloyd’s conduct in servicing a lobby group hostile to public service roles and conditions should be publicly deplored. Partisanship in public office shreds the integrity and trustworthiness of public institutions.
    An erstwhile colleague of Lloyd at the ABCC, Nigel Hadgkiss was forced to resign a few weeks back because the Federal Court found that he suppressed material accurately stating the effect of the legislation he was administering on union rights of entry. Hadgkiss’ Deputy, a QC , resigned yesterday, ostensibly because he had been kept in ignorance of the Hadgkiss affair by Hadgkiss and the Minister until the FCA decision. Last night, another statutory body, the Registered Organisations Commission, played a part in a Keystone Cops like abuse of power to send 32 able-bodied AFP police to search out AWU premises in Sydney and Melbourne for what? For material about donations made 10 years ago by the AWU to GetUp and Bill Shorten as an ALP candidate in the 2007 election; in other words, in the campaign against WorkChoices. Think of it, another gulah holding high public office, with better superannuation expectations than those exaggerated by Lloyd, thinks it a worthwhile exercise to sool teams of police after union governance rectitude in the campaigns against WorkChoices. The partisanship is self-evident.
    Will whatever elements of the old liberal conservative tradition remain in Australia ever call for a stop to appointments of this kind and the damage being done to institutional probity and the checks and balances vital to our democracy?

  7. klewso

    Lineage to “Mild” Mick Keelty – when he contradicted Howard over the threat of terrorism from joing the “Coalition of the Shilling” (by saying it would be increased) – for which he was neutered and made “Honest John” Howard and “Ghoulie” Andrews’ Limited News Party lap-dog?
    ….. What he could have done given Haneef a chance?

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details