AEC donations data 2021-22

Big business splashed cash

The data released highlighted the big industries who splashed cash at our politicians during an election year. Hefty donations and membership fees to exclusive party forums give wealthy interests easy access to our elected representatives. Over time, access translates to influence.

Image description: A picture of a pokies den followed by text that reads “ALP and Coalition received $2.16million from alcohol and gambling industry”
Image description: A picture of two people in suits shaking hands followed by text that reads “ALP and Coalition received $1.1million from third party lobbyists”
Image description: A picture of a coal-fired power plant followed by text that reads “ALP and Coalition received $1.88million from fossil fuel industry”
Image description: A picture of two people in suits shaking hands followed by text that reads “ALP and Coalition received $3.33million from developers and property industry”

Our national parliament is being treated like the stock exchange trading floor. Business people shouldn’t be able to trade political meetings and favours for financial gain – politicians are supposed to represent all of us, not just the wealthy few.

Take action to fix this mess

Australia’s campaign finance laws are woefully inadequate. At a federal level, we have no limits to the amount of money one can give and donations below $14,500 need not be declared at all. On top of that, donations data comes out only once a year – meaning some of the donations published above are almost 18 months old.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. We have solutions to stop the pervasive problem of big money in our democracy.

Our decision makers can act now to change the rules so that:

  • We have real-time disclosure of all donations over $2,500
  • Big political donations are banned altogether
  • Electoral spending by parties and corporations is limited

These reforms could be implemented this year to bring us in line with almost every other state in Australia. 

The Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters is currently considering what recommendations it will make to reform our campaign finance rules before the next election.

Use our handy tool to email your MP and Senators and ask them to include these reforms in the recommendations, to stop the influence of big money in our democracy.

We’ve prepared a template you can use, but personal emails are the most powerful.

You can have maximum impact and get your MP’s attention by:

Adding a little introduction at the beginning of the email, sharing who you are (eg the area you live in, your connection to the local community etc).

Explaining why this issue is important to you – why were you moved to write an email?

If you know your representative or party have a position on political donations, refer to that – thank them for previous leadership or make it clear you expect them to do better.

On Feb 1, the Australian Electoral Commission released its annual donations and spending data for politicians and parties over the previous financial year (2021-22). Using the information published on their Transparency Register, we found that big corporate donations and dark money are still dominating the Australian political landscape.

Dark Money

In the year of the 2022 federal election, ‘dark money’ (money with no disclosed source) reached a record breaking $119,385,655

Our analysis found that between Labor, Liberal, National and Greens parties, 40% of the money they reported receiving was hidden as dark money.

Party groupTotal receiptsAmount disclosedAmount undisclosed% dark money
Australian Labor Party$124,297,769$90,536,922$33,760,84727%
The Greens$22,201,267$12,074,517$10,126,75046%
The Nationals$11,509,108$7,232,540$4,276,56837%

This adds to over one billion dollars in undeclared income that has gone to political parties in the past two decades.

Every year, the major parties line their pockets with millions of dollars in donations under the cover of darkness with no transparency as to the source of this ‘dark money’. This cabal of secrecy creates an uneven playing field and has a corrupting influence on our democracy.