Last Thursday night, the Institute of Public Affairs had their fundraising dinner at the National Gallery of Victoria. Given that the absolute minimum ticket price was $500 a head, and that Tony Abbott, Andrew Bolt, Gina Rinehart and plenty of other really rich people were there, attending that dinner (in any form) was more or less the least appealing thing I could think of. So I didn’t.
Interestingly, though, a bunch of young Melbourne people who sit considerably further left on the political spectrum to me (that’s right, apparently they actually do exist) decided they’d head along anyways, to try to convince those members of the lunar right that they were really bad people. Sounds like a good plan, right?
I was actually invited to join the protest at one stage, and being a hip young Fine Arts student, I probably would have, if I’d actually seen any point in this not-overly-noteworthy endeavor.
Now, the IPA are in my opinion pretty bad dudes. I’m not a huge fan of Gina Rinehart and what she’s doing to the environment, or Tony Abbott and what he’s doing to Australian politics, or Andrew Bolt and what he’s doing to the definition of the word ‘journalist,’ and I’m definitely not a big fan of their 75 radical (read: selfish) proposals to ‘transform’ Australia (seriously, who thought making the Northern Territory a state would be a good idea? Disgraceful).
I wouldn’t describe myself as particularly pleased that Tony Abbott, a man who’s well on his way to becoming Australia’s next Prime Minister, is highly influenced by this group. I’m not overly excited by the fact that the future of our country is more or less in the hands of a very small, very select, very rich group of people. But one thing with which I don’t really have a problem is all of those people having dinner together.
I mean, yeah, the organisation is evil, and they have in the past attacked both the concept of climate change and the dangers of passive smoking. So yes, they’re arrogant, rich, and selfish. But we kind of already knew that. They’re still allowed to get together for a nice meal and to look at some paintings.
Protesting the IPA Gala Dinner wasn’t only ineffective (as my friend commented, they’re hardly likely to make Gina Rinehart realise she’s having a major negative impact on the environment with the supremely witty slogan ‘IPA GO AWAY!’). It was also kinda rude and lame. If you don’t want these people influencing policy, that’s cool. Write a letter, start your own think tank, vote for members of the centre left. Whatever. Holding up signs at a dinner is both silly and immature.
And with that, I’m off to eat some icecream with sprinkles.