Donations Day: Labor beats Coalition in corporate payments for the election year

by Stephanie Tran and Callum Foote | Feb 1, 2023 | Business, Latest Posts

Labor won the political donations race in the Election year 2022 picking up $6m more in political payments than the Coalition. This was the first time Labor has surpassed the Coalition in political funding since the 2007 election won by Kevin Rudd. Stephanie Tran and Callum Foote report.

Payments to Australia’s political parties are only revealed once a year. The big donors were there again in force during the election year which was 2022. Again, payments by gambling and fossil fuel industries were large, as well as from the Big 4 consultancy firms which pick up around $850m in government advisory work.

Clive Palmer once again topped the lists with his company Mineralogy the largest political donor contributing $117m to his United Australia Party. This surpasses his 2019 record of $80m.

Tobacco giant Phillip Morris is still paying the National Party, gas juggernaut Santos gave a total of $95,662 to Labor and Labor related entities, and $52,000 to the Coalition, enhancing its political protection as it fights with NSW farmers over the Narrabri fracking project. 

Beetaloo Basin fracking company Tamboran Resources – controlled by US investors – gave $62,000 to Labor, $25,000 to the Liberals and a staggering $100,000 to the Nationals.

The big 4 consultancy firms donated almost $860,000 to political parties during the last election: PwC paid $246,532, KPMG $242,455, Deloitte $240,432 and EY $130,236.

political donations

Source: Centre for Public Integrity

Overall, 2022 election total receipts were $124m for Labor, $118m for the Coalition and  $22m for the Greens. 

Gold mining magnate Sally Zou donated $445,783 to the SA Liberal Party through her company “Australian Romance Pty Ltd” and a further $232,544 to the Federal Liberal Party through her company “Transcendent Australia Pty Ltd”.

Although highly critical of gambling industry payments, the veteran donations observer and journalist Stephen Mayne commended Labor for improving its transparency:

“Full credit to Federal Labor for voluntarily disclosing every receipt above $1000 in 2021-22 when the law only required transparency on receipts > $14,500. This is why across a chunky 82 page return we see the detail on $54.7m of the $58.3m it received

“If you’re wondering why Federal ALP is doing diddly squat about deluge of TV gambling ads, check out the 400k+ of gambling cash it received in 2021-22. Tabcorp, Star Entertainment, [Stephen] Conroy’s “Responsible Wagering Australia”, Clubs NSW are all in there.”

Billionaire Anthony Pratt gave $1.94m to the ALP and $1.95m to the Coalition. Atlassian billionaire Scott Farquhar paid $1.5m to Simon Holmes a Court’s Climate 200 group which financed the successful Teal incursion into federal politics and Mike Cannon-Brookes paid $1.12m to renewable energy lobby group Boundless Earth. 

The gas industry donated a total of $2.74m to political parties in 2021-22, $2.4 million of which went to the Coalition and just over $300,00 to Labor. APPEA, the gas peak body, gave $30,000 to the Liberals and $56,00 to Labor

The gambling companies were large donors, paying almost $1.7 million to Australian political parties during the 2022 election period. ClubsNSW gave $294,977, Sportsbet $278,447, Tabcorp $216,160, Star Entertainment Group $212,738, Australian Hotels Association (N.S.W.) $183,851, Australian Hotels Association (Federal) $169,389 and the Australian Hotels Association (SA) $155,085.

Peter Costello’s Nine Entertainment group is no longer a major party donor but Network Ten donated $33,000 to Liberal and $27,800 to Labor. Seven West Media gave $13,000 to Liberal and $11,000 to Labor.


State Capture: top corporations identified as members of both Liberal and Labor parties

Stephanie is the editor of the Revolving Doors series. She is studying a Bachelor of Communication (Journalism)/Bachelor of Laws at the University of Technology Sydney. She was a finalist for the 2021 Walkley Student Journalist of the Year Award and the winner of the 2021 Democracy's Watchdogs Award for Student Investigative Reporting.

Callum Foote was a reporter for Michael West Media for four years.

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