Sunday, August 22, 2004

More on Clive Hamilton

Ken Parish is giving the guy some kudos, so it’s time to turn the knife once more . . .

Clive’s recent tenth anniversary of the Australia Institute speech (PDF) contains a few choice nuggets. One is that the think-tank’s funding – described on its website as deriving from “grants from philanthropic trusts, memberships and commissioned research” – is not nearly as fiscally diverse (and so “independent”) as might be imagined.

After waxing lyrical about the Institute’s early days, Clive writes:

But it was a struggle. After three or so years it become clear that then even [sic] fumes from the oily rag were drying up and I wrote to the Board saying we were in trouble. It was then out of the blue and with perfect timing that the Poola Foundation came to the rescue.

It is as a result of the philanthropy of the Poola and associated foundations that the Australia Institute has thrived and had the impact it has. Mark [Wootton] and Eve [Kantor] and the other Kantors are truly unique amongst Australian philanthropists.

While it’s no secret that I’ve got it in for Clive, and so also the Australia Institute, anyway, surely a think-tank’s being so reliant on funding from just one source severely undermines the claimed independence of its output?* Conversely, the “unique[ness]” of the Kantors amongst Australian philanthropists is not in the measure of their wealth – at $300 m or so, it is middle-of-the-road, as far as these things go – but in the exceptionalism of its funding the Australia Institute, a plenary (non-specialist) issue think-tank: only environmental and human-rights causes (admittedly including the Australian Conservation Foundation, an entity now infamous as a career sabbatical for right-wing boomers) appear to otherwise show up on the Kantor foundations’ cheque-butts.

With the Kantor family money coming years ago straight from sibling Rupert Murdoch, there may or may not be good reasons why the Kantors should now disburse chunks of it in tacit support of Clive’s anti-porn crusade. Less ambiguous, though, is Mark Wootton’s status as that rare (or so you might think) combination, a “green” property developer. Clive’s grand plan for everyone to do the downshift/sea-change thing is thus revealed for what it presumably is – a soft-sell property play, serving the eco/“green”-development industry.

Also scoring a fond, if passing, mention in Clive's speech is HECS architect Bruce Chapman – a boomer economist who has never satisfactorily explained why boomers should not also have been required to pay up for their tertiary education. (Translation: a hypocritical, GenX-hating fucktard).

* Adele Horin suggested – without making anything of it – that Poola was the Australia Institute’s only financier two years ago.

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