New research from the Centre for Public Integrity analyses hidden money in politics and the disclosed donations from the gambling industry.  

Dark Money 2021/22 

  • The source of $91.32 million, or 22.74%, of party income was hidden from public view in 2021-2022.
  • This is an increase of 33% from the $68.26 recorded in the previous year.
  • The total dark money since 1998/99 is $1.53 billion.
  • The Coalition has hidden the source of 36.41% of their party income since 1998, while the ALP has hidden 24.61%

“The source of over $91 million in party income was hidden last year alone. This means that the public does not know where 22% of election funding has come from,” said Anthony Whealy KC, the Chair of the Centre for Public Integrity.

“The last election set records for campaign spending, high end donations and hidden money. Our political finance system is in urgent need of repair,” said Mr Whealy.

“Donations under $15,000 are not currently captured by our disclosure system. Neither is income from party fundraisers or business forum membership fees. This is allowing millions to pass through our system undisclosed. We urgently need to broaden the definition of donation and bring the disclosure threshold down to $1000,” said Melbourne Law School Professor Joo Cheong Tham, a board member of the Centre for Public Integrity.

Gambling industry donations 1998/99 – 2020/21 (adjusted in real terms to 2021 dollars):

  • The Hotels industry has donated $15,217,640 and the Gaming industry has donated $8,678,515, totalling $23.9 million
  • Top donors are 1. Australian Hotels Association ($8,637,044), 2. Tabcorp ($3,028,118), 3. Clubs NSW ($2,749,994) and 4. Crown ($1,670,429)
  • Donations peak in election years and are evenly distributed across the major parties with Labor receiving $12,171,341 and the Coalition receiving $11,482,614

“The gambling industry has donated almost $24 million over the past two decades, with the Australian Hotels Association contributing almost a third of this. Donations peak in election years, with the 2019 election setting the record at $2.13 million,”

“We need to ask what is the industry getting in return for this funding? Businesses can’t give away money for free, and the public should be concerned that the gambling industry may be receiving access and preferential treatment in return,” said Han Aulby, Executive Director for the Centre for Public Integrity.

See full research paper here