Think-tank with a sting in its tail

By DAWN COHEN

A STING Ray, a local philanthropist and a feisty new Byron Bay Institute could dislodge John Howard from the Lodge.

And it's all thanks to that other Byron Bay institution: the daily constitutional at Main Beach.

The Byron Bay Institute, a think-tank founded by local swimmer, Ken Porter, is launching a national anti-Liberal push with an advertising blitz funded by property magnate and beach walker, Trevor King.

"Byron Bay is the first to see the light, but the rest of Australia soon gets it. We want to shed some light on damage the John Howard has done to Australia," said Mr Porter, a member of the Sting Rays, who swim the bay each day.

"I was discussing politics at the Beach Hotel with the swimmers over coffee," the former school teacher said.

"John Howard has mastered the art of spin so much, marshalled by conservative journalist commentators. I got so offended by his fraudulent ideas about how the Liberals have improved the economy, when actually the government has got bugger-all to do with keeping interest rates low."

Mr Porter noticed how commentator Gerard Henderson's ideas got more credence after forming right-wing think-tank, the Sydney Institute, so he decided it was time for a Byron Institute, to provide independent critique from a left-wing perspective.

A few weeks ago, Mr Porter met up with Mullumbimby-born success story, Trevor King after each had completed their morning recreation.

He inspired the former owner of the Lord Byron Resort to advertise the think-tank's website in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian.

Mr Porter is adamant the Byron Institute is not a Labor Party mouthpiece.

"Labor was once Left, but is not necessarily so now. We incorporate Green and Democrat information. I will be prepared to criticise Kevin Rudd, if he gets in," he said.

The Byron Bay Institute is looking for writers to investigate the Federal Government's track record in areas such as health and the economy. For further information contact kenporter@byronbayinstitute.net or call 0421 838 897.



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