The Australia Institute

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The Australia Institute
TAI with tagline blue.jpg
Abbreviation TAI
Formation 1994
Type Public policy think tank
Director
Richard Denniss
Website tai.org.au

The Australia Institute is an Australian think tank conducting public policy research, funded by grants from philanthropic trusts, memberships and commissioned research.

The institute began in 1994 in order to construct and commission research and policy analysis on public debates and political and social issues and trends. The Institute seeks government, business or union grants to conduct research and analysis. The Institute is based in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory.

The current Executive Director is economist Richard Denniss. Denniss's immediate predecessor was Clive Hamilton.

Philosophy[edit]

The institute is considered left leaning [1] and describes itself as "the country’s most influential progressive think tank"[2] as well as saying that:

"The Institute is determined to push public debate beyond the simplistic question of whether markets or governments have all the answers to more important questions: When does government need to intervene in the market? When should it stand back? And when regulation is needed, what form should it take?"[2]

Research[edit]

The institute's researchers are prominent commentators on public policy issues, including work on climate change and emissions trading, taxation policy, paid parental leave and unemployment. The institute is also known for its work on health, consumer affairs and trade practices.[citation needed]

Climate change[edit]

The institute is active in promoting global warming mitigation measures, and has been critical of the Australian federal government's perceived lack of action on climate change. The institute was critical of the Howard Government's decision to refuse to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. It claims that the former Prime Minister and some senior ministers deny the scientific evidence for global warming and that the resources sector drives government energy policy. Leaked minutes of a meeting between the Energy Minister, the Prime Minister and fossil fuel lobbyists provide evidence for these claims.[3][4]

The institute has been active in promoting renewable energy development, and other mitigation measures, and it has campaigned strongly against developing a nuclear industry in Australia.[5]

More recently, the institute has provided a critique of the proposed Australian emissions trading scheme (or Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme), based on concerns that the proposed scheme failed to adequately take into account voluntary action.[6]

Media regulation[edit]

The Australia Institute was sued by retail department store David Jones for allegedly engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct: David Jones Ltd v The Australia Institute Ltd [2007] FCA 962.[7] David Jones objected to a media release by the Australia Institute entitled "Corporate paedophilia – Sexualising children by advertising and marketing". The press release contained the statements: "It is particularly disturbing that this exploitation of young children appears to be becoming accepted or mainstream. Major retail chains such as David Jones and Myer have jumped on the bandwagon. When family department stores show no conscience on these issues, or are inured to the effects of their behaviour, the situation is very unhealthy." David Jones claimed that this statement contained a number of misleading and deceptive representations - including that "David Jones eroticises children in order to obtain profits". The matter was later settled.[citation needed]

Mandatory internet filter[edit]

Electronic Frontiers Australia criticised the Australia Institute for its proposal for mandatory filtering of Internet Access by Internet service providers, which in 2008 become policy of the Federal Government: "The proposed implementation of [this] system... would block innocuous and educational information and infringe Internet users' privacy."[8][9]

Funding[edit]

The Australia Institute is funded by memberships, donations from philanthropic trusts and individuals, and commissioned research. It has no formal political or commercial ties. The Institute states that it "is in a position to maintain its independence while advancing a vision for a fair and progressive Australia."[2]

The institute has been largely funded by the Poola Foundation and the Treepot Foundation - philanthropic organisations run by the Kantors, an offshoot of Rupert Murdoch's family[1]

Directors[edit]

  • Lin Hatfield Dodds, National Director, UnitingCare Australia (Chair)
  • Richard Denniss (Executive Director)
  • Elizabeth Cham, Former CEO of Philanthropy Australia (96-06) national umbrella body grantmaking trusts and foundations
  • Geraldine (Ged) Kearney, President, Australian Council of Trade Unions
  • Samantha Hardy, Philanthropy Advisor, Callum Hardy Consulting
  • Ben Oquist, Former Chief of Staff, Senator Christine Milne
  • David Morawetz, Clinical/Counseling Psychologist, Founder/Director of the Social Justice Fund
  • Hugh Saddler, Managing Director, Energy Strategies Limited
  • Barbara Pocock, Director, Centre for Work and Life, University of South Australia
  • Spencer Zifcak, Allan Myers Professor of Law, ACU and Barrister and Solicitor, Supreme Court of Victoria

Former board members include:

References[edit]

External links[edit]