The Institute of Public Affairs Eureka Forum

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On December 3-4 2004 the conservative Melbourne-based think tank, the Institute of Public Affairs hosted what it billed as the inaugural Eureka Forum, co-inciding with the 150th anniversay of the Eureka Stockade miners rebellion against the licence fees imposed by the colonial government.[1].

Promotional material for the IPA's Forum - titled "Reclaiming the Environment: It's time to be heard!" - made clear that the purpose of the event was to organise a rebellion against what it dubbed "environmental fundamentalism".

"Environmental fundamentalism is denying farmers, foresters, fishermen, prospectors, miners, beekeepers, 4WD enthusiasts and others access rights, property rights, water rights. It is also generating excessive red tape and harming the environment. The wrong-headed 'hands off, leave it to nature' approach is destroying our National Parks," the website proclaimed.[2]

"These are national issues requiring national, grass-roots action. Be a part of the Inaugural Eureka Forum and help build a strong national network," it stated.

While the IPA originally planned on having one-time Canadian Greenpeace activist Patrick Moore to deliver the keynote address he was unavailable. Instead the Brisbane-based head of the IPA's Environment Unit, Dr Jennifer Marohasy, got the slot for her addressed titled "Environmental Fundamentalism". It's a theme Marohasy rehearsed in a speech at the conservative Sydney-based think tank the Centre for Independent Studies (CIS).

In an abridged version of her speech published in the CIS journal, Policy, Marohasy argued that "A problem with fundamentalist creeds is that they are driven by adherence to predetermined agendas and teachings. The fundamentalist’s position is rarely tolerant of new information and is generally dismissive of evidence.Environmental fundamentalism is subversive in that it draws on science to give legitimacy to its beliefs—the same beliefs that, in many instances, have no basis in observation or tested theory."[3]

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