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Michael Nahan

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Mike Nahan is an American who is has become the Treasurer for the Liberal Party of Australia in the Western Australian parliament. Prior to being elected to parliament in September 2008 he was a Senior Fellow with the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA). Between 1995 and July 2005 he was the Executive Director of the IPA, and before that he headed their State Policy unit.[1]

Prior to this Mike Nahan had been an administrator and lobbyist with John Hyde's Perth-based Australian Institute of Public Policy in Western Australia, and then as the Director of the State Policy Unit after it merge with the Kemp Family's Institute of Public Affairs in Melbourne, Victoria. More recently he has returned to Western Australia, entered Liberal Party politics and ended up as the WA Treasurer.

He is most famous among Australian health researchers and journalists for a document he wrote to Robert Deards, who ran of the Australian Tobacco Information Centre, outlining a proposed deal with the tobacco industry to run a program which includes bringing Steve Milloy]] the notorious 'junk-science' king of TASSC to Australia, and promoting him to the media as a scientific guru.

Biographical Details

The Institute of Public Affairs website says that Nahan "is an experienced commentator on resource economics, economic development, State finances and inter-governmental relations. Born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Mike Nahan attended the University of Michigan where he graduated with a degree in Economics. Although, after coming to Australia in 1978, he went on to complete a Ph.D. in Economics at the Australian National University, along the way he managed to fit in a degree in Zoology, giving him a breadth of knowledge that many economists lack," his biographical note stated.[2]

"That breadth was enhanced by the experience of owning and running a small trucking company in the United States, five years working and travelling in Asia and, later, working for the Western Australian Ministry of Economic Development as Director of Policy. Mike Nahan joined the IPA as Director of the States' Policy Unit in 1990 and became Executive Director in September 1995. He writes a fortnightly column for Melbourne's Herald-Sun and has a weekly spot on Melbourne ABC Radio 3LO, which is widely broadcast," it stated.[3]

In August 2006 WA Business News reported that, a year after John Roskam took over as Executive Director of the IPA, Nahan was returning to Perth. ABC News also reported that Nahan had been appointed by the Western Australian Liberal Party to chair an inquiry into housing affordability. The report stated that Nahan is a member of the party. [2]

In September 2008 Nahan narrowly won a seat in the Western Australian state parliament seat of Riverton.[4] Shortly after being elected Nahan proposed that compulsory voting should be abolished. "Going through the last election, I came to the conclusion that forcing people to vote will mean there is a large number of people who were just going through the motions," he said.[5] Donald Trump has proved the value of non-compulsory voting.


Documents & Timeline

Owned and ran a small trucking company in the USA.


1973-78 five years working and travelling in Asia


1978 Arrived in Australia from the US.


1979-84 /E He went on to complete a Ph.D. in Economics at the Australian National University, and a PhD in Zoology (???)


1986-87/E working for the Western Australian Ministry of Economic Development as Director of Policy. ???


1990 Nahan joined the Institute for Public Affairs as Director of the State's Policy Unit in Perth.

Due to a territorial agreement between the IPA had and the Centre for Independent Studies (CIS) in Sydney, this gave him sway only over Western Australia and Singapore (an office created to service the Palm Oil industry). The Victorian 'State Policy' office covered also South Australia and Tasmania. The CIS territory covered the Pacific seaboard states of NSW and Queensland, the Northern Territory, the Pacific Islands, and New Guinea. The territory of New Zealand appears to have been handled by the Tasman Institute, which may have been a joint economic unit of the CIS and IPA. (these two Libertarian think-tanks also shared the services of lobbyist Chris DeMuth and a CIS/IPA Publications unit.)

Later the IPA established its own editorial and publications office in Jolimont, Vic. under Ken Baker


1990 Oct 25 The smokers-rights conference known as Smokepeace '90 was organised in Helsinki. Attending (certainly funded by the tobacco industry) were three Australians from the IPA JR Johnstone (Perth), Dr John Hyde (Perth), Paddy McGuiness (newspaper columnist)


1995 Sep Nahan has moved to Melbourne and become Executive Director of the IPA (replacing John Hyde who moved back to Perth) "He writes a fortnightly column for Melbourne's Herald-Sun and has a weekly spot on Melbourne ABC Radio 3LO, which is widely broadcast."


1996 July John Luik's "Smokescreen: Passive Smoking & Public Policy" is published by the IPA. It credits

  • J Ray Johnstone for the work on the previous "1986 NHMRC Report",
  • Dr Gio Batta Gori for enhancing his understanding of epidemiology. (US tobacco scientist/lobbyist)
  • Chris Ulyatt as the Editorial Director
  • Mike Nahan (currently IPA Executive Director) for supporting the project.

Almost as an after-thought, it has a small-print footnote that "This is a revised version of a paper submitted to the NHMRC and commissioned by the Tobacco Institute of Australia." [3]

NHMRC = National Health & Medical Research Committee. The Australian premier grant-making body on medical research which had published in 1995 "The Health Effects of Passive Smoking" which attacked ETS.

Luik sees the NHMRC Report as "incompetent science", and quotes as his authorities,


1996 July 10ABC radio 3LO in Melbourne Australia is interviewing John Luik (lecture tour with IPA). His line is that Canada the US and Australia is increasingly seeing "medical patronisation" in " diet, exercise, using alcohol, smoking, all all these sorts of things ..."

So it's a highly interventionist to impose one group of people - the medical professions' preferences about eating chocolate or having a drink after dinner, or even drinking tea and coffee, for instance using cola drinks ... one group of people's preferences on all the rest of us, without good scientific evidence that this particular set of practices is correct .[5]




1997 Nov Mike Nahan at the Institute of Public Affairs was writing to Bob Deards of the Tobacco Information Centre. The TIC was the hurried replacement for the Tobacco Institute of Australia when its activities were exposed by the signing in the USA of the Master Settlement Agreement. Nahan is spelling out the IPA;s current services to the tobacco industry with an implicit request for more money. (See letter

Both the IPA in Melbourne and its associated Centre for Independent Studies in Sydney were getting annual retainers and special grants for specific lobbying projects from the tobacco companies, until this year.

We are planning a number of things that will be of interest to your members.

Deards 'members' were the main tobacco companies in Australia who were under attack.
  • We are in the process of publishing a monograph by Peter Finch with a working title of "The Smoking Epidemic: Death and Sickness Among Australian Smokers". The monograph uses the anti-smoking lobby's own research to attack the conclusions they draw from the research. The monograph is currently with referees and, subject to successful passage of our review process -- which is expected -- we plan to publish June 1994.See Draft Copy
Peter D Finch (A statistics lecturer at Monash University - not a "Professor" - although he used the title) was a serial supporter of the cigarette companies (as was the Institute of Public Affairs). He published pro-tobacco articles through a series of think-tanks which laundered tobacco money: Social Affairs Unit in the UK, the Manhattan Institute in New York, and the Melbourne Institute of Public Affairs. His associates were Christopher E Ulyatt and J. Raymond Johnstone - both with the WA Uni and John Hyde's Australian Institute of Public Affairs. They were collaborators with John C Luik from Canada who was brought out to Australia by the IPA to help the local tobacco industry obstruct (unsuccessfully) the first international 'plain packaging laws' for cigarettes.
  • Secondly, we will be publishing an Australian version of a book by Steven Milloy entitled "Science Without Sense: The Risky Business of Public Health Research". This book is a lighthearted but hard hitting critique of junk science in public health. Mr Milloy is an American public health specialist and a lawyer. We will organise a national lecture tour to accompany the release of the book. This should be released in March 1998.
Milloy was neither a lawyer or a public health specialist: he was a professional lobbyist hired to run a very successful (for a time) "junk science" operation known as The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition (TASSC). This had been set up by Philip Morris through their private PR firm, APCO. In the early days of the internet it became the source of anti-science propaganda: claiming that global warming, the toxicity of dioxins and DDT, and the claimed dangers of cigarettes, were all the results of "junk-science" conducted by biased researchers. Nathan and Deards would both have known of this connection by this date.
  • Third, Alan Moran (IPA staff executive) is writing a feature article for the December 1997 Edition of IPA Review. It draws from three contemporary pieces of work: the revamped 'blue book' prepared by ACIL on the costs & benefits of smoking; a recent article of Robert Bork defending people's choice to smoke,; and the Alan's analyses in "Soaking the Poor". The article will address the issues from the viewpoints of the economics and morality of individual choice.
ACIL was actually the cosmetic front of an 'Economic Consultancy" that had been retrofitted to the Tasman Institute. This was an associated (to IPA) libertarian advocacy operation which transformed itself into a semi-legitmate research organisation for right-wing governments wanting to justify privatisation of public assets. This Institute ran Project Victoria" for the Kennett Liberal government's privatisation program.
  • Fourth, next year we plan to prepare a Special Lift-out in the IPA Review on the nanny state. The lift-out will be published and distributed separately from the IPA Review with a circulation in the vicinity of 8,000 [copies].
The term "Nanny State"" to characterise the UK welfare system was invented for Margaret Thatcher by Keith Joseph and Ralph Harris of the London Institute of Economic Affairs and used very successfully by her in her campaign to become the UK Prime Minister. Harris then established two operations for the tobacco industry: FOREST, the Smoker's Rights organisation, and the European Science & Environment Forum (ESEF) which was the European version of the American TASSC (initially known by the US tobacco companies as "Euro-TASSC). It was run by Harris's assistant at the IEA, Roger Bate, but he didn't have the skills of Steve Milloy and the ESEF was only marginally successful in becoming the arbiter of what was 'sound science' and what was 'junk science'. It's most effective propaganda was the spread of the derogatory term "Nanny State" to suggest regulatory interference in personal choice -- and the organisation that spread this message so successfully in Australia was the Institute for Public Affairs.
  • Fifth, staff of the IPA Review write a large number of op-ed pieces (over 200 last year) and are otherwise active in the media. In the ast we have written on a variety of issues of interest to you and we no doubt will continue to do so.
Op-ed writing for the newspapers is still the main activity of the IPA, and the newspaper editors know that they will be well written (the IPA has a multiple input and review process) and they don't need to pay for the copy. They can always claim to justify the opinion as the need to balance views against those of most journalists.

Of course other things may arise during the year, [6]


1999 Jan - Oct John Luik and Gio B Gori have joined forces to write a book published by the Fraser Institute "Passive Smoke: The EPA's Betrayal of Science and Policy" The foreword claims:

The authors of this study, Dr Gio Batta Gori and Dr. John Luik have independently produced this research. Therefore, while The Fraser Institute is happy to publish their research, the views expressed may not conform to those of the Members and the Trustees of the Fraser Institute. [7]

This is disingenuous crap. The Fraser Institute would publish anything that the tobacco industry paid them to publish.

2005 John Roskam replaced Nahan as Executive Director at the IPA.


2006 Aug WA Business News reported that, a year after John Roskam took over as Executive Director of the IPA, Nahan was returning to Perth. ABC News also reported that Nahan had been appointed by the Western Australian Liberal Party to chair an inquiry into housing affordability.


2008 Sep Nahan narrowly won a seat in the Western Australian state parliament seat of Riverton.[6] Shortly after being elected Nahan proposed that compulsory voting should be abolished. "Going through the last election, I came to the conclusion that forcing people to vote will mean there is a large number of people who were just going through the motions," he said.<ref>Yasmine Phillips, "Libs open debate on voluntary voting", West Australian, October 19, 2008.


Articles and Resources

Related SourceWatch Articles

References

  1. "People & Associates: Mike Nahan", Institute of Public Affairs website, accessed January 2008.
  2. "The Tasmanian Devil is in Equalization’s Details", Frontier Center for Public Policy, April 16, 2004. (This bio note is a truncated version of what appeared on the IPA website).
  3. "Mike Nahan Executive Director", Institute of Public Affairs website, April 2001.
  4. "Labor wants WA marginal seat recount", The Australian, September 23, 2008.
  5. Yasmine Phillips, "Libs open debate on voluntary voting", West Australian, October 19, 2008.
  6. "Labor wants WA marginal seat recount", The Australian, September 23, 2008.

External links

Articles By Nahan

General Articles