Maxim Institute

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The Maxim Institute is a research and public policy think tank based in Auckland, New Zealand. The Institute's work is oriented toward a conservative perspective on its issues of primary concern, which are now education policy, tax and welfare policy. Although initially identifiable as a social conservative organisation, its policy statements have emphasised fiscal restraint within tax and welfare policy since its former director, Bruce Logan, left in 2005.[1]

The Institute has been involved in public debate in a number of educational policy issues. These include private school funding, teacher registration and training options, bulk funding and related concerns. As it originally arose from the "Education Development Foundation" as its precursor organisation before it rebranded, this is not illogical, although educational policy issues have been a diminished focus since 2001. During the Logan era, free speech, social justice, democracy and constitutional issues were emphasised. The Institute produces research and publications, and advocates for fiscal conservative public policy. It regularly organises a series of political forums and has developed websites in the lead up to New Zealand general elections for the sake of educating voters about the electoral process.

Maxim Institute's mission statement is "to foster ideas and leadership that enable freedom, justice and compassion to flourish in New Zealand."

Work[edit]

Since its founding in 2001, Maxim Institute has supported a greater role for "civil society" and community in New Zealand life, notably in education, welfare and social service provision. Mild controversy has hinged on what the Institute considers to be 'civil society' in this context, and concern has been expressed by some small segments of the population about harms contingent on what left-leaning critics view as 'welfare privatisation' and outsourcing to 'questionable' religious conservative social service providers.

The Institute has undertaken extensive research in a number of areas. Most notable amongst their reports are a series on the role of government as expressed through the taxation system, a literature report on father involvement - Going Further with Fathers - and a modelling project looking at school choice - Roll Play.

It has published a wide range of op-eds and analysis on these and other subjects in newspapers, and also produces research and submissions on law and policy (See publications). Since its inception, Maxim Institute has also run an internship programme.

Social Conservative Era: CEO Bruce Logan: 2001-2005[edit]

Maxim Institute first gained public recognition in 2003 when it opposed the Prostitution Reform Bill. The Institute stated that the Bill would legitimise and increase the exploitation of women in New Zealand. It also opposed the Civil Union and Relationships Statutory References Bills in the following year, and argued that such moves would make "marriage meaningless." The act was passed, and lesbian and gay New Zealanders acquired secular ceremonial and ritual recognition of their relationships and substantive equal relationship-related rights and responsibilities within most areas of New Zealand law.

Fiscal Conservative Era: CEO Greg Fleming: 2005-[edit]

After the retirement of Bruce Logan, the Institute moved to emphasise fiscal conservatism above its previous focus on the aforementioned social conservative 'core' issues. Thus, it has also supported other measures which "empower parents," localising decision making. Maxim Institute has also endorsed restorative justice, parental choice of schools, democratic involvement, performance related pay for teachers, strong communities, limited government, low taxes and personal responsibility.

The Institute holds regular forums, including one held at the Auckland Town Hall and centred on the theme of "social justice". Speakers have included Youth Court Judge Andrew Becroft, University of Canterbury Professor David Fergusson and Researcher Professor Peter Saunders.[2]

In 2008, it held the first of its Annual John Graham Lectures. This was delivered by Professor Jeremy Waldron of NYU Law School and titled "Parliamentary Recklessness: Why we need to legislate more carefully".

The Institute also holds regular public lectures on topics such as tax and "social justice". However, as with its adoption of 'civil society' rhetoric, there have been minor criticisms of its concept of 'social justice', which rules encourages public participation through renewed emphasis on privatisation policies, as well as redistributive taxation policies to insure equality of opportunity.

History[edit]

Maxim Institute was founded on 12 November 2001 by Managing Director Greg Fleming (formerly general manager of Parenting with Confidence) and Director Bruce Logan a former Headmaster, and former Director of the New Zealand Education Development Foundation (NZEDF) in Christchurch. John Graham (then University of Auckland Chancellor, also played a role in the Institute's founding.

After serving four years as the Institute's Director, Bruce Logan retired in 2005. Maxim Institute's Christchurch office closed in early 2006. Currently, the Institute has fourteen staff based in their Auckland office, and Greg Fleming has been their current CEO since that time.

Publications[edit]

Maxim Institute has published various books and reports on issues including political correctness, curriculum, and marriage law [1]. These books include Silent Legacy: The unseen ways great thinkers have shaped our culture, which considers the history of western philosophy. Pursuing Social Justice in New Zealand, a collection of essays from prominent New Zealanders looking at creating strong communities. From Innocents to Agents, which looks at the politicisation of children in New Zealand. Vying for our Children, which examines various education philosophies. It also formerly published a quarterly journal entitled Evidence. According to Maxim Institute Evidence "explore[d] the critical issues facing New Zealand society today, including education, family and welfare. Evidence provided commentaries and analyses that were heavily relied on Anglo-American and Australian religious and social conservative pressure groups. As of Issue 15 (Spring 2005), Evidence ceased publication, as Bruce Logan was its former editor.

The Institute produces a monthly email called Real Issues, which focuses on "provoking analysis of developments in policy and culture in New Zealand and around the world".

As well as Real Issues, Maxim also published an ongoing series of educational research reports based on research by Colmar Brunton, called The Parent Factor, related to parental choice in education access, government funding and opposition to centralisation.

The Institute also drafts submissions on a range of public policy issues. The issues have included sedition law reform, electoral finance, victims' rights, democratic reform, prostitution, civil unions, hate speech and section 59. However, it has primarily emphasised fiscal conservative positions on tax and welfare policy since 2005.

Awards[edit]

In 2005, Managing Director Greg Fleming was one of six New Zealanders to receive an Emerging Leader Award from the Sir Peter Blake (yachtsman) Trust.[3]

Maxim Institute has received several international think tank awards from the Atlas Economic Research Foundation. The Templeton Freedom Prizes were awarded for: Institute Excellence (first place), Social Entrepreneurship (second place) and Initiative in Public Relations (second place).[4][5]

In April 2006, Atlas Foundation awarded Maxim Institute's Parent Factor publications as the winner of the Innovative Projects category of the Sir Antony Fisher International Memorial Award.The Atlas Foundation is a centre-right US think-tank [6]

Controversies[edit]

Plagiarism[edit]

On 17 October 2005, Paul Litterick of the New Zealand Association of Rationalists and Humanists used Copyscape [2], a web-based plagiarism detection service, to analyse Logan's published newspaper work. He alleged plagiarism in Logan's work, and published the results in the Fundy Post (Issues 18 and 19), an online chronicle of the alleged excesses of New Zealand conservative Christians and other faith-based elements. Litterick found that some of Logan's work was taken (in most cases with permission) from Anglo-American sources, which include the Heritage Foundation, Institute for American Values and National Fatherhood Institute, Maggie Gallagher (a US social conservative journalist), Melanie Phillips (UK), Conservative Christian Fellowship (UK) and Digby Anderson, Social Affairs Unit (UK). Later that year, Logan resigned from the Maxim Institute.

"NZ Votes"[edit]

In 2005 the Maxim Institute ran a project leading up to the New Zealand general election, 2005 called "NZ Votes." The campaign featured a website and 30 debates between electorate candidates around the country. On its website, the NZ Votes project described itself as a "non profit and non partisan" [7] and as a "community service" designed to inform voters about MMP. However, Nicky Hager criticised the Institute's candidate database in his book The Hollow Men (2006), and also alleged that there had been close ties between the New Zealand National Party and a series of educational policy booklets that attacked New Zealand Labour Party government stances on such issues.[8] However another book, The Baubles of Office, by Stephen Levine and Nigel Roberts,[9] makes a point of highlighting the political neutrality of nzvotes.org.

In June 2011, the Institute advertised that it had invited Iain Duncan-Smith, United Kingdom Secretary of State for Welfare and Pensions, head of the Centre for Social Justice and former leader of the Conservative Party of the United Kingdom and the Opposition (2001—2003). This has raised some questions about whether the Institute's days of social conservative emphasis are as far behind it as its recent public policy statements and analyses suggest. Duncan-Smith is an outspoken social conservative on issues like abortion, civil partnerships and inclusive adoption reform in the United Kingdom [10][unreliable source?]

Frank Ellis visit[edit]

In 2004, Dr Frank Ellis, a University of Leeds lecturer, spoke at a conference hosted by the Maxim Institute on political correctness and its reputed origins in Soviet Communism.[11] Ellis was later suspended from his post when it emerged he had endorsed the British National Party, and for his ties to white nationalist groups.[12][13][14][15][16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Maxim Institute: Beyond the Christian Right?". gaynz.com. Retrieved February 28, 2010. 
  2. ^ petersaunders.org.uk
  3. ^ "Sir Peter Blake Trust". sirpeterblaketrust.org. Retrieved April 19, 2006. 
  4. ^ "Templeton Freedom Prizes". atlasusa.org. Retrieved April 19, 2006. 
  5. ^ "Templeton Freedom Prizes". atlasusa.org. Retrieved April 19, 2006. 
  6. ^ "Sir Antony Fisher International Memorial Award". atlasusa.org. Retrieved May 5, 2006. 
  7. ^ NZvotes.org - connecting you with democracy
  8. ^ Nicky, Hager (2006). The Hollow Men : A study in the politics of deception. Craig Potton Publishing. pp. 206–211. ISBN 1-877333-62-X. 
  9. ^ Stephen Levine and Nigel Roberts, ed. (2007). The baubles of office: the New Zealand general election of 2005. Wellington [N.Z.]: Victoria University Press. ISBN 9780864735393. 
  10. ^ http://www.maxim.org.nz
  11. ^ Maxim Institute Forum 2004 - via Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Matthew Taylor (2006-03-24). "University suspends lecturer in racism row who praised BNP". The Guardian. 
  13. ^ "Racism row lecturer is suspended". BBC News. 23 March 2006. Retrieved 7 May 2010. 
  14. ^ Fundy Post: From Lake Geneva to the Finland Station
  15. ^ Jim Peron (2005-11-05). "The New antiPC Problem". Institute for Liberal Values. 
  16. ^ Public Address - Patrick Crewdson: The Men of Destiny

External links[edit]