How quick is a day in politics and media? There was Andrew Bolt bragging about the influence he had with the powers to be in Australia. His “besties” were Tony Abbott and the Dutchman John Roskam head of the IPA. He even got his son James a “mini-me” job with the think tank podcasting among other things.
But like puffing on a Dandelion, all that good fortune, or some might call arse-licking, has blown away. So much for being Murdoch’s top “influencer”. A legend in his own lunchtime Bolt is a squeak in a world of talking heads. Lachlan is suing “Crikey” for its public opinion. Just a sentence that Bolt once insisted was everybody’s “free speech” right. His boss obviously doesn’t agree. In America, there wouldn’t even be a case to answer, but Bolt’s boss a historic loser here thinks otherwise. Bolt now has turned to the “right of free silence”. He knows on which side his bread is buttered.
There was a time, not so long ago, when corporate Australia lined up…
“Twenty or 30 years ago,” says John Roskam, whose 17-year tenure as executive director ended a couple of months ago, “we had dozens of ASX 100 companies supporting the IPA. Now, there’s not one.
“Not one,” he repeats, for emphasis. “Not one of the ASX 100 companies supports the IPA.”
No wonder Roskam sounds dispirited. Big business created the IPA. It was set up in 1943 following the collapse of Australia’s major conservative political party, the United Australia Party, in opposition to the perceived “socialism” of the Curtin Labor government.
Its founders included the chairmen of BHP and Coles, as well as the head of the Herald and Weekly Times newspaper group, Keith Murdoch, father of Rupert, among many other business leaders.
The fact that corporate Australia now has largely abandoned the IPA – although the Murdochs, whose business is listed offshore, are still supporters, as is mining magnate Gina Rinehart, whose interests are held privately – may be the clearest indication of the declining influence of not just the IPA but right-wing think tanks in general.
“Many people, including myself as a Liberal Party member, are frustrated with the direction of the Liberal Party. The libertarian alternative through the LDP is becoming more and more attractive.”
There are many other indicators, too.