Sorry IPA

Australia is still having the discussion on the benefits of waste reduction and until recently it was considered economically rational to send semi-trailers full of household and business waste from New South Wales to Queensland to avoid disposal fees. In other parts of the world (even Trump’s deepest darkest America) there are companies that demonstrate that minimising the production of waste and developing alternate uses for waste products is not only helping the environment, it’s making money.

Subaru makes cars in the USA as well as Japan. There is probably a rational explanation for the American factory that would only partly be justified by the reduction in shipping costs for some 350,000 cars per annum. In 2002 (partly to address observations that Subaru ‘doesn’t do’ hybrid vehicles) they decided to look at how they address waste within and surrounding their plant at Lafayette in Indiana. A USA Today article reports that Subaru executive Tom Easterday claims on his seemingly frequent small group tours showing other companies how to make money by eliminating landfill
"I always like to say that if someone stops for a cup of coffee on their way into the plant," Easterday said, "then they have put more trash into the landfill than we have for the entire year."

Actually, that coffee cup would be more than the entire plant — with 5,600 employees producing 350,000 cars annually — has put in a landfill in nearly the last 15 years.
So, Subaru compost waste from their staff cafeteria, they retain and reuse plastic mouldings that are deemed not suitable for installation into cars, they even return cardboard boxes and Styrofoam to component manufacturers for reuse. Apparently, once Styrofoam packaging has made four return trips to the component maker, it is profitable to do so!

While it is probably a point of difference between Subaru in America and some other car plants, it’s not all done to generate a green tinged halo for Subaru either — since 2004 they have made $13 million through elimination of waste to landfill. The program is so successful, they are now looking at becoming carbon neutral, becoming more profitable in the process.

There have obviously been some costs in the conversion to landfill free status and the claim of $13 million is apparently the net profit, so it puts paid to the claim that ‘going the extra mile’ to reduce or eliminate waste used in production processes is costly or will reduce a competitive edge. Unfortunately, in Australia a lot of the pessimism around ‘the cost’ of reducing our impact on the earth we all have to share is spruiked by conservative politicians, business leaders and ‘think tanks’ to suit their own political agenda.

This also became a bit clearer in the past week or so when it was revealed (in unlikely circumstances to do with a family dispute that has reached the court system) that Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting donated around $5 million to the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) in the past couple of years. Ms Rinehart has every right in the world to donate her money to whatever cause she determines is worth her support, just as Graeme Wood has, however in their 2015-16 annual report
the IPA claimed 91 per cent of donations came from individuals, while foundations, companies and “other” sources each contributed 3 per cent. In 2016–17, it claimed 86 per cent of revenue was from individual donations and only 1 per cent from companies.

In words and colourful graphs, they give the impression of broad-based financial support from thousands of individuals, of an organisation not beholden to corporate supporters.

But Hancock Prospecting is clearly a company. By phone and email The Saturday Paper sought an explanation from the IPA for this but did not get one.
As The Saturday Paper also discloses,
The institute’s annual reports tell us its total revenues were $4.96 million in 2015–16 and $6.1 million in 2016-17. Thus Rinehart’s money, given through her company, Hancock Prospecting, made up almost half the IPA’s income in one year and well over a third in the other. She has, in effect, a controlling interest.
The problem here is that while most ‘think tanks’ in Australia will happily disclose their funding sources allowing us to determine intentional or unintentional bias, the IPA doesn’t. It does however contribute staff to provide opinions on television programs and in the media. And a lot of their ‘talent’, including recently failed Liberal Party candidate for Mayo Georgina Downer and current Liberal Party member for Goldstein Tim Wilson, go into politics trying to drag the ‘liberal’ party further to the conservative end of the spectrum.

They too are entitled to their opinions — but it’s a concern when the funding behind their policy position remains hidden.

What do you think?

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I think you're dead right, 2353NM.  But then, any organisation/project/activity endorsed and supported by Gina rings bells of dire warning to me!    The IPA has always had much influence with coalition governments but especially under Howard and Abbott.  Turnbull was seen as 'small L' until he got himself installed as PM when it soon became apparent he is nought but a wishy washy, do-anything, say-anything, untruthful lying piece of excrement.  

On waste management...I only a bit of a kid when I heard my mother talking to the chap who owned the cattle station that was 'home' in those days.  He would and did fire any worker he caught chopping down a tree or shooting a wild turkey.  I never forgot hearing him rant on about 'stupid @#**s - too many are out in this country digging it up, chopping it down or, if it moves, shooting it.'   This man never missed a chance with us kids to remind us to waste not - 'save a match and buy a station' he used to tell us.   It wasn't until we grew into adults that we realised Alf was a conservationist which was a rare species back then in outback Australia.



Thanks Janice.

Assuming the Malcolm Turnbull of 2009 is the *real* Malcolm Turnbull big assumption I know, his big mistake was not taking on the alt-right within the coalition as soon as he became PM. Its far more ly that the Malcolm Turnbull of 2009 was a strategy to try and get elected. 

One of the landfills in the article that takes waste from interstate is in Ipswich CIty and it is somewhat ironic that at the same time they are getting everyone else's crap the Council doesn't own the landfill, residents of Ipswich are being reeducated on what is allowed in Recycling bins as the contamination levels were too high. Conservation of resources is a mindset and not a progressive conspiracy. Why dig it up or cut it down if you don't need it. Or if most, you live in a city, why drive if a bus/train is going there anyway around the same time, take your own water bottle rather than buying one tap water is cheaper and tested to a higher standard and while you are conserving resources and doing the planet a favour, you're also saving money.

Ad Astra



Thank you for your fine piece.

The Institute of Public Affairs resembles right wing think tanks around the world. ‘Think Tank’ is a misnomer – the devotees don’t think. They are a narrow religious sect that has a fixed set of beliefs, from which their followers do not deviate. One has only to listen to them on TV or radio to hear the same catechism recited mindlessly over and again.

Calling itself ‘The Voice for Freedom’ the IPA espouses the following radical beliefs, published in 2012 by Executive Director John Roskam, Adjunct Fellow Chris Berg and Liberal Senator James Paterson:

1 Repeal the carbon tax, and don’t replace it. It will be one thing to remove the burden of the carbon tax from the Australian economy. But if it is just replaced by another costly scheme, most of the benefits will be undone.

2 Abolish the Department of Climate Change

3 Abolish the Clean Energy Fund

4 Repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act

5 Abandon Australia’s bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council

6 Repeal the renewable energy target

7 Return income taxing powers to the states

8 Abolish the Commonwealth Grants Commission

9 Abolish the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

10 Withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol

11 Introduce fee competition to Australian universities

12 Repeal the National Curriculum

13 Introduce competing private secondary school curriculums

14 Abolish the Australian Communications and Media Authority ACMA

15 Eliminate laws that require radio and television broadcasters to be ‘balanced’

16 Abolish television spectrum licensing and devolve spectrum management to the common law

17 End local content requirements for Australian television stations

18 Eliminate family tax benefits

19 Abandon the paid parental leave scheme

20 Means-test Medicare

21 End all corporate welfare and subsidies by closing the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education.

And that’s just the start! There are 75 in all! If you have the stomach to read the rest, go to the IPA site and click: Be Like Gough: 75 Radical Ideas To Transform Australia

The fact that Gina Rinehart is a major sponsor, if not the largest donor, is consistent with her objectives and that of the IPA.



Ad Astra,

I don't have the stomach to read the entire 75, the first 22 are enough. It goes to demonstrate that the alt-right position of "I'm alright Jack, bugger you" is alive and well. I wonder what the IPA's position is on the current funding for drought assistance to areas of the country that needed it? Most farmers do understand that they have to look after their property to gain any return -  would the recipients in the IPA's alternate universe have to prove they were environmental vandals prior to getting a razoo?, Its a similar question for natural disasters such as fire, flood or cyclone. Would the IPA's alternate universe only assist those with large businesses or similar political views, leaving the majority of the residents to hopefully argue it out with insurance companies or landlords?

As I suggested in the article, Ms Reinhart can donate whatever she s to whatever she s, however the secrecy and duplicity of the IPA's statements regarding funding are morally wrong. The facts are above - do the maths. The IPA is lying about it's own funding - so what else is it lying about?

How many Rabbits do I have if I have 3 Oranges?