Major parties were again big beneficiaries of fossil fuel money in 2021-22, with gas, oil and coal interests giving more than $2.3 million to Labor, the Liberals and the Nationals.

The political donations data, released today by the Australian Electoral Commission, shows:

  • Labor declared more than $124 million in receipts, while the Liberal and National parties declared a total of $117 million.
  • Dark money is on the rise: $105 million that was declared by the major political parties had no identifiable source (up from $62 million the previous year).
  • Fossil fuel industry sources gave more than $2.3 million to the major political parties ($1.4 million to Labor and over $900,000 to the Coalition parties).
  • The mining and energy division of the CFMEU union ($500,000) and industry lobby group the Minerals Council ($105,000) were the biggest fossil fuel interest donors to Labor, while oil and gas lobby group APPEA ($56,700) was also a big contributor.
  • Tamboran Resources, the company that plans to extract gas from the Beetaloo Basin, donated a combined total of $200,000 to Labor, Liberal and National parties.
  • Oil and gas giant Woodside donated a total of $109,930 to Labor, Liberal and Nationals.
  • Mineral Resources Limited ($135,000) and gas giant Santos ($77,310) were the biggest individual fossil fuel company donors to Labor.
  • Coal miner Adani donated $100,000 to the Liberal-National Party in Queensland.

“Donations to political parties from industries that want to influence government policy often increase in election years and this was the case with fossil fuel interests in 2021-22,” said the Australian Conservation Foundation’s corporate campaign manager Jolene Elberth.

“The fact fossil fuel interests donated more to Labor than to the Liberal and National parties suggests the coal and gas firms sensed Labor was headed for victory and shows the whole point of companies donating to political parties is to gain access to decisionmakers.

“The latest data confirms the financing of politics in Australia is an opaque affair, with $105 million of the money that funds Australia’s major parties having no identifiable source.

“Fossil fuel companies and their lobby groups are big donors to the major parties.

“Hefty donations and membership fees to exclusive party forums give fossil fuel companies easy access to our elected representatives. Over time, that access translates to influence.

“Political donations reform – as Labor promised in the lead up to last year’s election – are desperately needed and should be enacted immediately to improve integrity and make the system more transparent.

“Caps on donations, a lower threshold for revealing donations and more regular disclosures would vastly improve the integrity of our political system.”

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