Features, Fossil Politics

Fossil fuel political sponsors outspend everyone else

Fossil Fool Bulletin • 4 February 2020

The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) says serious donations reform is needed now to make sure our political system works for the benefit of all Australians, not just those with the biggest wallets.

The fossil fuel industry directly donated more than $85.7 million to Australian political parties in the 2018-19 financial year, highlighting the need for serious reform of the political donations system.

Palmer’s big spend skewed election

The political party returns for 2018-19, released this week, reveal:

• The biggest fossil fuel donor was Clive Palmer’s Mineralogy, which donated $83,681,442 to Palmer’s United Australia Party.

• The biggest donor to the major parties was gas company Woodside, which donated $135,400 to Labor and $147,940 to the Liberal National Coalition.

• The fossil fuel industry in total donated $85,719,747 to Australian political parties. • Excluding donations to the United Australia Party (UAP), fossil fuel industry donations totalled $1,894,024.

• The top three fossil fuel industry donors, excluding Clive Palmer linked companies, were Woodside, Adani (through Adani Mining and the Carmichael Rail Network Trust) and the gas industry lobby group Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA). These donated a total of $692,299.

Which party was the fossil fuel winner?

The Coalition received the most from fossil fuel industries, receiving a total of $1,147,376.

However, Labor received $725,448 in donations from fossil fuel industries.

Woodside was the largest fossil fuel donor to the Liberal Party, donating $137,750.

Woodside was the largest fossil fuel donor to Labor, donating $135,400.

Adani (through Adani Mining and the Carmichael Rail Network Trust) was the biggest donor to the Nationals, donating $121,800.

Labor disclosed a total of $49,995,144 in receipts, but only provided the details for $48,162,246.

The Liberal Party disclosed a total of $48,196,905 in receipts, but only provided the details for $43,980,577.

The National Party disclosed a total of $3,099,872 in receipts, but only provided the details for $1,042,174.

Over $8 m from undisclosed sources

Between the parties, $8,106,924 of receipts have undisclosed sources.

“This political donations data reveals the influence of the fossil fuel industry in Australia’s political system,” said ACF’s Economy and Democracy Program Manager Matt Rose.

Writing in Crikey, Bernard Kean noted that Climate sceptic Michael Hintze also gave the federal Liberals $35,000.

“While donations from the fossil fuel sector were consistent with previous years, Palmer’s spending dramatically shifted the political playing field against climate action,” Keane said.

“Even grouping the Labor and Greens spending together and combining it with third-party spending like GetUp ($2.3 million) and the Australian Youth Climate Coalition ($360,000), election spending aimed at promoting any kind of climate action, limited or ambitious, was hopelessly outmatched by fossil fuel interest cash in the system.

“In a year that would become known for the catastrophic consequences of climate change across the country, its election was dominated by fossil fuel interests spending up big to prevent any climate action,” Keane concluded.

Santos may get gasfield for $80K

Santos’ donation of nearly $80,000 to the Liberal and National Coalition is deeply concerning given the recent gas announcement as part of the energy deal between NSW and the Federal Government, according to Lock the Gate Alliance.

The energy deal signed last week required NSW to find 70PJ of gas annually, almost exactly the amount that would be produced by Santos’ Narrabri CSG project if it was approved.

Santos also gave nearly $70,000 to the Federal Labor Party, according to donation records released today.

“Santos appears to have been hedging its political strategy, donating significant sums of money to both major parties in the lead up to last year’s Federal Election,” said Lock the Gate NSW coordinator Georgina Woods.

“What benefit does Santos see these donations as providing to their shareholders? The Government’s insistence that NSW find more gas as part of last week’s energy deal could be viewed as a return on that investment.

“This doesn’t pass the sniff test and underscores how mining money is compromising Australian politics.

“Santos’ Narrabri gasfield has the potential to create upheaval and groundwater impacts for the farmers and communities in the north west. Yet the NSW and Federal Governments are happy to accept Santos’ cash.”

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