Media release 18 January 2021

New analysis of 20 years of AEC donation disclosures shows the resources industry is the largest donating industry to Australia’s political parties and campaigners. The research from the Centre for Public Integrity shows:

  • The resources industry is the largest donating industry, making contributions 2.5 times greater than the property industry, the next biggest donor
  • The resources industry made $136.7 million in political contributions from 1999-2019
  • Many of the largest contributions came from companies who have policies against making political donations. These contributions were instead made to political campaigners who campaign and donate on their behalf.
  • The Coalition received $15.18 million, more than three times the $4.88 million received by Labor
  • Donations peaked in 2019 (Clive Palmer election) and 2016 (carbon tax election)

“The resources industry is by far the largest donating industry. Together they have donated 2.5 times more than property developers,” said the Hon Anthony Whealy QC, Chair of the Centre for Public Integrity.

“Donations can lead to greater access and influence.

“Companies that have policies against making donations are still having influence by donating to political campaigners and peak bodies. These organisations advocate and make donations on their behalf.”

“Clive Palmer made the largest political donation in history in the 2019 election. He influenced voters through ads and direct communications. There is nothing stopping other mining magnates from doing this in the future.”

“We need urgent reform to cap donations and spending, and make all donations transparent to voters in real time.”