Latest Research

Shining light on political finance for the next federal election, 15th of February 2021
New research from the Centre for Public Integrity shows hidden money continues to fund our democracy. Analysis of the latest AEC figures shows:

  • The source of $49.55 million in party income was hidden from public view in 2019-2020
  • The total dark money since 1999 is $1.5 billion
  • More money is hidden in election years, with the 2019 election setting the record for hidden funding at $114.2 million
  • The Coalition has hidden the source of 39.22% of their party income since 1999, while the ALP has hidden 27.69%

“The source of almost $50 million in party income was hidden last year alone. This secrecy needs to stop,” said Anthony Whealy QC, the Chair of the Centre for Public Integrity.

“The last election set records for money raised and money hidden. Reform is needed now so that the funding of the coming election is transparent.”

“Most states have a disclosure threshold of $1000. The Commonwealth’s disclosure threshold of $14,300 is out of line.”

“There is little analysis or enforcement occurring to make sure donations returns are complete. The AEC needs greater resources and expertise to make our disclosure system work properly,” Mr Whealy said.

Read the full briefing paper here.


Money in politics: a flood of political donations Briefing paper 10th February 2021

 The gaps in our Commonwealth system of regulating political finance – Executive Summary 

The Commonwealth Government has the weakest political finance laws in the country.  The enormous gaps in Australia’s regulatory framework make it easy for wealthy  companies and industries to use money to influence decision makers. Lax disclosure  rules mean that these donations can often be made while avoiding scrutiny. 

The following gaps in the regulation of money in politics lead to big money having an  undue influence on our electoral process: 

  • The high disclosure threshold and no aggregation enables multiple donations of  $14,299 to not be disclosed; 
  • The delay in disclosure means donations made before the Federal election in May 2019 weren’t revealed until February 2020; 
  • Loose disclosure rules allow the source of over $1 billion in contributions to have  been hidden since 1999; 
  • No caps on donations mean that big money dominates – one quarter of all  donations since 1999 have been made by just 5 donors; 
  • The lack of spending caps allows wealthy individuals or companies to spend  millions on pre-election advertising blitzes for example, Clive Palmer’s $60  million ad spend during the 2019 Federal Election campaign. 

You can read the full report here.