Australian think-tanks and the tobacco industry

The IPA and its Sydney subsidiaries

    There are two sections to this document:
    1. Gerard Henderson who worked for the tobacco industry both through the nstitute of Public Affairs (IPA) and also his own Sydney Institute.
    2. The front organisation known as "Australians for Commonsense, Freedom and Responsibility" which involved Henderson and ran a tobacco operation over the Carroll Cancer Case.


Gerard Henderson

Gerard Henderson was a member of the National Civic Council (working for BA Santamaria) until 1976. He then joined the staff of MP Kevin Newman during the Fraser Government, and later became a special advisor and chief-of-staff to opposition leader John Howard until 1986.

He left Howard to become the Director of the Institute of Public Affairs (NSW) which lasted until late 1988 or early 1989 when the territorial and collaboration agreement was signed between the Melbourne-based IPA and the Sydney-based CIS. In August 1989 he created his own "Sydney Institute" essentially as a business run by himself and his wife Anne (they are the sole directors) -- which, according to newspaper reports, continued to receive $8,000 per year from the tobacco industry.


The Sydney Institute is a forum/lunch club combined with an Henderson op-ed/column generation factory. However it has a Chairman, Deputy Chairman, Treasurer and [advisory] Board members — all from the Sydney business community. What they do is anyone's guess.

Apart from his columns in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald, Henderson also has a regular spot on the ABC TV's 'Insiders' program. [My original FOI on the ABC was also intended to discover whether he receives compensation for this]

His puff piece at the ABC Radio National Breakfast web-site says that the Sydney Institute:

    ... has links with similar institutes around the world, including the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, the Manhattan Institute in New York, the European Policy Forum in London, Keidanren in Tokyo and the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Jakarta. [See]
    [Four of these are members of the Atlas Group and are linked to tobacco money.]

As Director of the NSW branch of the IPA, Henderson mounted a fierce attack on the South Australian Labor Government when it introduced legislation to ban tobacco advertising on billboards and broadcasting, and also attempted to ban the tobacco sponsorship of sports and the arts.

Director of the Institute of Public Relations

After leaving John Howards service (at a time when Howard was generally thought to be at a dead end in Liberal Politics) Henderson joined the Institute of Public Affairs as Director. At this time the IPA operated in Perth and Melbourne, and it also had a competitive operation with Greg Lindsay's Centre for Independent Studies in Sydney and was making attempts to move into New Zealand.

BACKGROUND: The South Australian advertising and sponsorship bans

South Australia made a major move against the tobacco industry's sponsorship of sports in late 1987 following similar legislation in Victoria. The Australian Democrats held the balance of power in South Australia's Legislative Council which meant that such legislation could be passed, provided only the Minister for Health could gain Cabinet support.

The Labor Government in South Australia planned to restrict tobacco advertising in every media other than newspapers and magazines, and they found a clever to defeat the public support for tobacco which had resulted from industry's strangle-hold over the funding of sporting and arts administrations, by:

  1. banning sports and arts sponsorship and
  2. establishing a SA Sports Promotion, Cultural and Health Advancement Trust to provide compensating sponsorship.
  3. funding this body by an increase in the State Licence Fee on tobacco products.

    It was a zero-sum game. The same amount of funding could be given to the same organisations, but without them needing to parade the tobacco company logos, or pay homage to the merchants of death.

    [This funding-substitution ploy was a stroke of genius, later described by Geoff Bible the CEO of Philip Morris International as the "greatest threat to sports sponsorship the tobacco industry has ever faced."]

In the following six months (until July 1 1988) the tobacco industry turned out all its guns to try to reverse or stall the decision. They had Roy Morgan Research conduct a study to 'prove' that 68% of the community considered tobacco companies should be allowed to sponsor sports and the arts. But the Anti-Cancer Foundation then mounted a rival study which showed that 59% of South Australians supported the sports sponsorship ban and that 82% would approve a ban on cigarette advertising in theatres and cinemas, and that 76% approved bans of cigarett advertising on billboards.

It then became a battle of opinion polls.

Murdoch's newspaper, The Advertiser ran a backstop campaign for tobacco by conducting its own public opinion poll which showed 64.1% of readers disagreed with the prohibition. The SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry (always a reliable partner with tobacco) then did one of their own ... as an own 'independent survey' ... which showed a 64% support for tobacco sponsorship of sports.

The Tobacco Institute of Australia's public opinion poll showed tobacco sponsorship had 57% support, and they mounted a major television and press advertising campaign against the government to prove their point.

Despite this barrage of public opinion polls, advertising, and media complicity, the South Australian Labor Government proceeded with the legislation and introducing it on March 3. It passed through the parliament on April 14th with a slightly widened exemption (Grand Prix, Test Cricket and Sheffield Shield) to come into effect July 1 1988.

Rather amusingly, the TIA then attacked the South Australian government on the grounds of irrationality and inconsistency, with advertising headlined (Mar 25 1988) "Tobacco advertising could be banned at local race meetings but not at the Grand Prix" which preached

    "There is only one word that adequately describes such legislation. — Hypocrisy!"
[See - also page 23]

Despite receiving guaranteed matching funds, this supposedly generated such fury in the local sporting bodies that they established a new sports lobby. And the Institute of Public Affairs was there to provide leadership.

    Meanwhile, the Institute of Public Affairs says the tobacco legislation will be followed by restrictions on alcohol and take-away food. Institute director, Dr Gerard Henderson, said the Government was willing to "strike at small business but would leave high profile sport extravaganzas alone".

Gerald Henderson's momentary interest in SA sports.

In April 7 1988 The Adelaide newspaper, The News, carried an article "The Wowsers are on the rampage" attacking the Bannon government's tobacco legislation. The article contained every conceivable tobacco catch-phrase counched in breathless "Nanny State / Neo-Puritanical" prose, all packed into a couple of sentences:

      ANYONE with an interest in the future of SA should heed and be alarmed by a warning from the Institute of Public Affairs today. Its director, Dr Gerard Henderson, warns that legislation against tobacco advertising will be followed by restrictive laws against alcohol and take-away food.

      That is not a fanciful stretch of the imagination.

      The New Wowsers are already raising their voices. The push is on.

      Futhermore, the puritanical fringe groups who seek to impose their prejudices on the community have an easy mark in the present Bannon Government.

      The Health Minister, Mr Cornwall, has a taste for Nanny State laws. Nanny knows best and, if you do not behave, the law must make you behave. That is the attitude.

      This puritanical drive, unless met head on now, will have a particularly pernicious impact on SA. [See]

    [Clearly Gerard was on the rampage. But he didn't start the Adelaide Institute ... just in case you were wondering!]

The increase in cigarette tax to fund the sponsorship operation was 10 cents per pack (the average for previous sponsorship funding). But the companies siezed the opportunity to also raise the pack price by up to 11 cents, both to massively increase their profit margins, and to bring approbation down on the government's head -- since, it now appeared that the changes had cost the smoker 21 cents a pack, when in fact it was a zero-sum move.

Only a few weeks later, in August 1988, Gerard Henderson began publishing his " Media Watch" bi-monthly journal [now the Media Watch Dog blog] which set him up as an independent critic of the liberal control of the media (according to the IPA).

He was filling a niche left vacant when Tony McAdam resigned from his post writing the Media Watch column in Quadrant. [McAdam then joined the IPA and later Philip Morris]. It is widely believed that Henderson's creation of this special journal was timed to coincide with the ABC launch of its Media Watch program.

At this time Gerard was still the director of the Institute of Public Affairs (NSW) and the industry in New South Wales was believed to be paying over $10,000 a year to the IPA for these services.

He also wrote an 'anti-socialist' column in the Sydney Morning Herald headed "Fear and loathing and ..."(second page missing) defending the tobacco industry against the Marxis Victorian Government which had used tobacco excises taxes to finance a Health Promotion Foundation, and the HPF's subsequent attack on tobacco's sports sponsorship [See Page 1] and also the joint State Health Ministers attempts to introduce rotating health warnings on packets.

InfoTopics, the newsletter of the tobacco industry in the UK reported that another Henderson article on the "Nanny state" had appeared in the Weekend Australian in the April 9-10 issue (not available on-line) attacking the "hypocrisy of the Government in targeting some sponsored sports and advertising media and not others."

Henderson was speaking at this time as the representative of the Institute of Public Affairs (NSW) at a conference "supported by the Australian Chamber of Commerce" on "The Rise of the Nanny State" (page 37) [Funded by tobacco] with:

  • celebrity UK columnist, Auberon Waugh, a key member of LIBERTAD (which probably ran this conference) and FOREST the Smoker's Rights organisation in the UK.
  • David Fearnley, chairman of the Advertising Federation of Australia
  • Ron Conway, a clinical psychologist who wrote pro-tobacco articles and contributed to other tobacco projects.


Philip Morris Donations

The January 1995 document, Philip Morris's Key Message Points — Industry Issues lists its Australian Corporate Affairs division as being involved in funding the following political operations: [See Page 44]

  • Committee for Economic Development in Australia (CEDA)
  • The Sydney Institute [separated now for 7 years from the IPA]
  • Committee for Melbourne
  • 500 Club in Melbourne (Liberal Parry fund-raiser)
  • The Sydney '94 Summit (ALP fund-raiser)

A Philip Morris document in 1993, detailing the company's donations, listed two payments to Gerard Henderson's Sydney Institute totalling $16,700. When asked to comment by the SMH:

    The Sydney Institute's executive director, Mr Gerard Henderson, said he had "no authority" to discuss corporate contributions,

    [Yet the Hendersons ran the Sydney Institute as a private fiefdom] [See] and also [See]

Note also the reference to the Australian Hotel's Association.

BACKGROUND The Australian Hotels Association and Worksafe bans
Richard Mulcahy, the CEO of the Tobacco Institute of Australia (from May 1989 to late 1993) upset Health Minister Graham Richrdson and left abruptly to become the Executive Director of the Australian Hotels Association. The AHA then joined forces with the TIA to battle against State and Federal smoking bans. In addition to working for the AHA, Mulcahy continued to act as a lobbyist for the tobacco industry, which led to the natural conclusion that the AHA operation was being funded by tobacco.

For his services to industry (tobacco and hotels), Mulcahy was given a place on the Experts Working Group (EWP) of Worksafe Australia, which, because of the problems hotel staff were having, came under pressure to ban smoking in bars without adequate ventillation.

British-American Tobacco Co's 1993 report on the subsidiaries which constitute its Far East/Australian operations says: [See BAT report]

    "Roughly half the companies conduct corporate sponsorship of sporting events. In addition, Australia supports local business community groups such as the Botany Enterprise Development Agency and contributes financially to prominent think tanks such as the Institute for Public Affairs and the Sydney Institute."

To boost their Corporate Image, BAT (Aust) planned on:

    Introducing a community relations programme in 1993. Wills is one of the largest donors towards the local Business in the Community group (BEDA - Botany Enterprise Development Agency) and sponsors prominent think tanks such as the Institute of Public Affairs and Sydney Institute.

    Through Benson & Hedges, sponsor cricket, bocce and car racing. In 1993 Wills will also re-establish a Donations Committee which will focus on the local community.

So despite the Hendersons having hived their own think-tank off from the IPA, they still fed at the same nicotine-stained teat. One can only wonder what services were being rendered.

Australians for Commonsense, Freedom and Responsibility.

The IPA also attacked the tobacco sports-sponsorship bills through a new front organisation called Australians for Commonsense, Freedom and Responsibility (ACFR), which was run by Associate Professor Mark Cooray in Sydney who was also a member of the IPA subsidiary, the Samuel Griffiths Society. Cooray's organisation promoted the views of a number of tobacco industry employees and contractors.

In May 1980 Mark Cooray and his ACFR published "Smoking in a Free Society" which had essays by:

  • Professor LJ Mark Cooray — Associate Prof. of Law/Samuel Griffith Soc.
  • Charles Kemp — founder of IPA
  • Bernard Levin — BBC/News Ltd; Auberon Waugh's fellow-curmudgeon; also President of PM's LIBERTAD operation in the UK
  • John Hyde — Senior Fellow at the IPA and founder of the AIPP
  • TE Utley — Editorial Director of the IPA and co-author of tobacco documents with Johnstone
  • JR Johnstone — Uni of WA, fellow of the IPA, and ex editor at Hyde's AIPP
  • Paddy McGuinness — Quadrant and IPA/CIS
  • Walter Jona — Victorian Liberal in the Legislative Assembly.
  • Ron Conway — a Catholic psychiatrist
  • Ron Brunton — fellow at the IPA and later ABC board member
  • Professor Robert Tollison — George Mason University economist who ran the cash-for-comments network in the USA for the Tobacco Institute. [See Page 36]
[The only two without known strong links to the IPA or tobacco industry are Ron Conway and Walter Jona.]

In case there is any lingering doubts about the ACFR organisation, The FOREST [UK Smoker's Rights organisation] catalogue for 1989 lists: Smoking in a Free Society by L. J. M. COORAY

    An anthology of essays on the anti-smoking movement, in the context of governments' role in an open democratic society. 1988, £3.00 Australians for Common Sense, Freedom and Responsibility, Community Education Centre, Australia [See]
God knows what the "Community Education Centre" actually was!

The ACFR claimed to be

    "a non-profit organization concerned with democracy, freedom and responsibility and the values and institutions which have contributed to the rise of western civilisation."
In fact it was clearly handled as a subsidiary of the IPA although it had been founded (or used) by Professor Mark Cooray a law professor at Macquarie University in Sydney, almost certainly at the request of Richard Travers, the key litigation lawyer for the Tobacco Institute of Australia at Clayton Utz

The Carroll Cancer Case.

Sean Carroll was a Melbourne bus driver who contracted lung cancer and sued his employer, on the ground that he had contracted it either from diesel fumes, or from passive smoke (then permitted in a bus) or both. He was terminally ill, and finally settled out of court -- indirectly with the tobacco industry which had taken control of the case from the insurance company.

This is known as the Carroll Case and it was difficult for the tobacco industry to handle because Carroll had not sued them direct.

Eventually Carroll, both exhausted financially and terminally ill, was forced to settle for $65,000, with the amount being paid by the Victorian State Insurance Office. [Remember: Carroll had only sued the insurance company, not the cigarette manufacturers.] But in August 1988 the ACFR set up an extraordinary press conference for the tobacco industry to counter media suggestions that the settlement of a bus driver's terminal lung-cancer case had, in effect, been an admission that the cancer had been caused by passive smoke.

Clayton Utz, working for the tobacco industry, had had included in the settlement agreement a demand that Carroll's only complaint was that he'd been exposed to diesel smoke — not to cigarette smoke — to get the pay-out he had to go along with abandoning the cigarette smoke claim. The settlement agreement also required him to appear as a prize witness to this fact at a press conference where he was to pose alongside a smoking diesel-bus.

This was a most disgusting episode, and Gerard Henderson was intimately involved as part of the support team of IPA executive and tobacco lobbyists.

The conference was held at a top Melbourne restaurant [Le Chateau] and it loaded with speakers from most unlikely backgrounds (if this hadn't been a tobacco industry operation):

  • Professor Mark Cooray - a Sydney law professor.
  • Gerard Henderson from the IPA,
  • Des Moore from the IPA and CIS
  • Dr Allan Crawford a long-term tobacco industry contractor on medical matters
  • Richard Travers the Clayton Utz lawyer
    [Each will speak for 5 minutes and then receive questions.]
The release they put out says [See release]
    " It now appears, however, that neither claim is justified. Mr. Carroll's original claim made no mention of environmental tobacco smoke and the Tribunal made no judgement. The settlement was purely a commercial one. On the evidence, the cause of Mr. Carroll's medical condition remains a matter of speculation."

There is actually a video of August 8 1986 press briefing called "The Carroll settlement 'passive smoking' and public policy" which was created by Australians for Common Sense, Freedom and Responsibility and widely circulated. This consists of the ACSF's panel of speakers attacking the suggestion that a causal link had been established between "passive smoking" and lung cancer in the Carroll Case (I haven't seen it - my computer won't decode it.) [Try to watch Video]

A later Tobacco Institute of Australia press release says

    "For those with an academic interest in the fallibility of the media, please refer to the September 1988 issue of Media Watch from the Institute of Public Affairs [ie. Gerard Henderson] which details how the media mislead the public and created the "myth" that this [Carroll] case was about ETS." [ETS = Environmental Tobacco Smoke]
It then complemented Mr Paddy McGuiness as "one of the few journalists who had understood the complexities."

This claimed exoneration of passive smoking became part of the tobacco industry mythology and was included in their booklet "Clearing the Air." to show that the media mis-reported and manipulated evidence against smoking.

In the The Age (Melbourne), on the 9 August 1988 Australians for Common Sense, Freedom and Responsibility called for a review of accident insurance legislation in the wake of the Sean Carroll case. The spokesman for the group, Prof. Mark Cooray, said that it had not been established that Sean Carroll's lung cancer was caused by environmental tobacco smoke. [Which was perfectly true — but also misleading.]

ACFR and the Ruth Scanlon case:

In another case involving a terminally ill patient and an unknown out-of-court settlement, Ruth Scanlon was threatened with exposure of her past sexual history if she continued to pursue the case. It is widely believed (and reported openly) that she dropped the case with only a nominal settlement because the tobacco industry lawyers had evidence of her past abortion (at a time when she was extremely ill). Ben Hills at The Age commented about the role in this affair of Richard Travers from Clayton Utz acting for the Tobacco Institute. He says:

    "The partner who acts as spokesman on tobacco litigation is Richard Travers. who recently emerged as a leader of a new pro-smoking group. Australians for Common Sense Freedom and Responablility which called a press conference to denounce what It called mis-reporting of the Carroll case.

    Sitting In his office on the 32nd floor of the Rialto tower Mr Travers was unapologetic about the tactics his firm adopted in the Scanlon case although he couldn't say whether or not it had cost the tobacco companies industry $1 million to fight."

[See Hill report]

It is difficult to know whether the IPA, Clayton Utz, the Sydney Institute or Professor Mark Cooray actually runs the ACFR — but all of them are obviously implicated. Gerard Henderson, Des Moore and other 'fellows' and executives are also clearly involved in these activities.