Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Coal lobby ads biggest third-party political expenditure in Australia

AEC disclosures for last year also confirm Malcolm Turnbull was nation’s biggest political donor, giving $1.75m to the Liberals

Advertisements spruiking the benefits of coal and mining were the biggest political expenditure by third-party groups in Australia last year, dwarfing public contributions from unions and GetUp, new data reveals.

The Australian Electoral Commission disclosures for the 2016-17 financial year were released on Thursday showing both major parties at the federal level declare more than $30m in donations and other receipts including public election funding.

The AEC disclosures confirm that Malcolm Turnbull was the biggest single donor to his own party, making a $1.75m contribution to the Liberal coffers just before the 2 July 2016 election.

Political donations 2016-17: search the declarations by Australian parties

Other large donations to the Liberal party included $500,000 from regular contributor Roslyn Packer, the widow of the late Kerry Packer; $200,000 from the Burnewang Pastoral Company; and $150,000 from each of ANZ, the National Automotive Leasing and Salary Packaging Association and supermarket giant Wesfarmers.

ANZ gave the same amount to federal Labor while the party declared other receipts totalling $128,100 from the National Automotive Leasing and Salary Packaging Association, $110,000 from Woodside Energy and $55,000 from Responsible Wagering Australia.

The biggest political expenditure was $3.6m by ACA Low Emissions Technologies Ltd, which manages a fund established by the coal industry to invest in clean coal. Its largest outlay was on political ads to pay for a campaign called Coal - It’s an Amazing Thing.

The Minerals Council spent a further $1.3m, including the Making the Future Possible campaign which spruiks coal and prompted a backlash from BHP.

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