The Lowy Institute is an independent think tank founded in April 2003 by Frank Lowy to conduct original, policy-relevant research regarding international political, strategic and economic issues from an Australian perspective. It is based in Sydney, Australia.

Lowy Institute
AbbreviationLowy Institute
TypeForeign policy think tank
Executive Director
Michael Fullilove

The institute has been described as "neoliberal",[1] "centre-right" leaning[2] and "reactionary".[3] It states that its research and analysis aim to be non-partisan, and its programme of conferences, seminars and other events are designed to inform and deepen the debate about international policy in Australia and to help shape the broader international discussion of these issues.[4]

History and activity edit

Founding edit

Based in Sydney, the Lowy Institute was founded in 2003 by Slovakian-born, Australian-Israeli billionaire businessman Sir Frank Lowy.[2] Lowy, a veteran of the 1947–1949 Palestine war,[2] and close associate of two former Israeli prime ministers,[2] emigrated to Australia and founded Westfield Corporation, a global shopping centre company; he retains a key role in various shopping centres in Australia and New Zealand.[5][6]

Funding edit

The institute receives funds from the Australian government through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Department of Defence, and the Department of Home Affairs. Companies which provide funding include BHP, Capital Group, Rio Tinto, and Rothschild & Co.[7]

In 2003, Lowy endowed the institute with a donation sufficient to fund the first eight years of its operation.[2] His family continues to play a key role in the institute, with at least four "Lowy"-named people on the Board of Directors.

The institute has also been funded by donations from the investment management firm, Manikay Partners; from a global accounting and professional services firm: Ernst & Young; and from a former Australian diplomat and cabinet secretary, Michael Thawley (with his wife Deborah).[2]

The institute registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, in 2012, as the "Lowy Institute For International Policy", and by 2019 was reporting over $12 million in revenues (including over $2 million from government), and over $9 million in expenses.[8]

Activity edit

Overview edit

The institute publishes polls, white papers and rankings on various international affairs subjects—particularly regarding Australia and the Asia-Pacific region—and advocates for a proactive and globally engaged Australian foreign policy. It hosts conferences, seminars and other events. Its annual Lowy Lecture is the institute's "signature event", where a "prominent individual", from Australia or abroad, comments on Australia's global role and on global influences on Australia.[4]

The institute has hosted presentations by every Australian prime minister since 2003, as well as the NATO Secretary General, U.S, Vice-President Joe Biden, United Kingdom prime minister Boris Johnson, and various other Australian and foreign leaders.[4][9]

The institute commonly meets and interacts with Australian officials, and with visiting international leaders, and is a source of influence on Australian government. The resulting internal and external computer activity, including email traffic, which could be of interest to foreign powers, is credited with attracting information-harvesting cyber attacks on the institute, during and before 2012—comparable to similar attacks against U.S. think tanks. The attacks were generally attributed to China.[10]

A cable dated 17 December 2010 sent from the US embassy in Australia was released to Italian investigative journalist Stefania Maurizi in December 2023 under freedom of information. The US cable concerned reactions in Australia to the United States diplomatic cables leak. The cable revealed that US officials monitored pro-Assange protests in Australia for "anti-US sentiment" and warned that there was "increasing sympathy, particularly on the left" for Assange. It described the institute's Michael Fullilove as a "moderating voice" who, "while calling the leaks 'fascinating', also termed WikiLeaks' conduct reckless in a blog post. But for the most part, sensationalist headlines are drowning out Fullilove and other reasonable observers."[11]

Research programs edit

  • East Asia
  • International Security
  • Pacific Islands
  • West Asia
  • International Economy
  • Diplomacy and Public Opinion

Website edit

The institute's website offers publications for free download. In 2006 the regular talks began to be recorded and made available on the website.[12]

The Lowy Institute launched a blog The Interpreter in November 2007. According to former Executive Director Allan Gyngell: "it aims to provide you with fresh insights into international events and a new way to engage with the Institute." Lowy Institute also developed analytical tool Asia Power Index. This tool allows changes in the global distribution of power. Countries can be compared on the basis of which measures eight types of power: military capability, defence networks, economic resources, economic relationships, diplomatic influence, cultural influence, resilience and future resources.[13][14]

Lowy Poll edit

The annual Lowy Poll surveys a nationally representative sample of the adult Australian population on foreign policy issues and is the Lowy Institute's flagship publication. It is wholly funded by the Lowy Institute and its results are widely cited in the Australian and international media. The Lowy Institute has also conducted opinion polling in Indonesia, New Zealand and China. The first Lowy Poll was in 2005.

In April 2023, the Lowy Institute poll indicated that one in five Chinese-Australians were called offensive names in 2022, down 10 points from 31% in 2020, highlighting that Chinese-Australians face fewer racist insults than at height of diplomatic tensions with Beijing.[15]

Leadership and staff edit

Board of directors edit

The institute's board comprises Australian policy makers and business people.[16]

Notable staff edit

Former staff edit

Criticism edit

The format of the 2011 Lowy Institute Poll[17] was considered inadequate for formulating Australian policy compared to studies undertaken by CSIRO, Ipsos-Eureka, Cardiff University, Stanford University, and Yale University.[18]

In 2012, the institute was criticised by Jim Green, national nuclear campaigner of Friends of the Earth Australia, alleging that the institute ran "a disgraceful propaganda campaign" to advocate for Australian uranium sales to India, in contravention of Australia's longstanding policy of refusing to sell uranium to nations who did not join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).[3]

References edit

  1. ^ "Lowy Institute," Archived 26 December 2019 at the Wayback Machine SourceWatch. Retrieved 26 December 2019
  2. ^ a b c d e f Barro, Christiane, "The think tanks shaping Australia The Lowy Institute," Archived 26 December 2019 at the Wayback Machine The New Daily, retrieved 26 December 2019
  3. ^ a b Green, Jim, "The Lowy Institute's dangerous nuclear propaganda," Archived 26 December 2019 at the Wayback Machine 28 December 2012, "Online Opinion" Friends of the Earth Australia. Retrieved 26 December 2019
  4. ^ a b c "What We Do," Archived 26 December 2019 at the Wayback Machine Lowy Institute. Retrieved 26 December 2019
  5. ^ "Scentre Group Board of Directors". Archived from the original on 22 April 2016. Retrieved 14 May 2020.
  6. ^ Danckert, Sarah (23 October 2015). "Frank Lowy to retire as chairman of Scentre Group". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 10 August 2016. Retrieved 7 June 2016.
  7. ^ "Funding & Support". Retrieved 14 August 2021.
  8. ^ "Lowy Institute For International Policy," Archived 26 December 2019 at the Wayback Machine Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission. Retrieved 26 December 2019
  9. ^ Stoltenberg, Jens (NATO Secretary General: "Remarks by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Lowy Institute (Sydney)," Archived 26 December 2019 at the Wayback Machine, 7 August 2019, North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Retrieved 26 December 2019
  10. ^ Grigg, Angus and Nick McKenzie, "Lowy Institute hit by Chinese hackers," Archived 26 December 2019 at the Wayback Machine 3 December 2018, Australian Financial Review, retrieved 26 December 2019
  11. ^ Knaus, Christopher (19 December 2023). "US officials monitored pro-Assange protests in Australia for 'anti-US sentiment', documents reveal". The Guardian.
  12. ^ "Lowy Institute". Archived from the original on 28 October 2012. Retrieved 22 October 2012.
  13. ^ "China Closing in on U.S. In 'Asia Power Index': Lowy Institute". Bloomberg News. Archived from the original on 29 May 2019. Retrieved 15 November 2019.
  14. ^ "China ranks 2nd in Asia Power Index - World". China Daily (in Chinese). Archived from the original on 15 November 2019. Retrieved 14 May 2020.
  15. ^ "Chinese-Australians face fewer racist insults than at height of diplomatic tensions with Beijing, survey finds". The Guardian. 18 April 2023. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 5 May 2023.
  16. ^ Lowy Institute (2014). [1] Archived 5 November 2017 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  17. ^ "The 2011 Lowy Institute Poll". Archived from the original on 18 June 2012. Retrieved 5 June 2012.
  18. ^ "Polls, framings and public understandings: climate change and opinion polls". Archived from the original on 23 October 2012. Retrieved 5 June 2012.

External links edit