The latest AEC disclosures show that big donors continue to dominate the funding of parties, and campaign spending remains at record levels.

From 1998-2021 the top 5% of donors funded 76.4% of all donations.

In 2022 the top 10 individual donors contributed $137.5 million to parties and independents which equates to 76.9% of all donations given in the year.

Campaign spending for the 2022 Federal Election remained at record high levels, reaching $439.4 million. This is arguably the highest federal election spend on record, seeing as the 2018-19 financial year also included Victorian and NSW state elections.

Graph: Party payments and independent spending 1998-2022.

“The undue influence of money in politics is getting worse. Record high spending fuelled by a handful of donors is putting our democracy at risk,” said the Hon Anthony Whealy KC.

“10 individuals have given 77 per cent of the donations to parties and individuals. Given the reliance that the major parties have on these top donors, there is a real risk that they receive special access and yield undue influence on our decision makers,” said Mr Whealy.

“Spending in the last federal election was at a record high. We cannot continue to allow elections to be effectively bought by the highest bidder,” said Melbourne Law School Professor Joo Cheong Tham.

“We urgently need a cap on political donations and campaign spending so that an average voter can match the donations of millionaires,” said Professor Joo Cheong Tham.

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