MEDIA RELEASE

1 February 2024

AEC data release shows major parties received nearly $50M in dark money last financial year

The annual political donation disclosures released today by the Australian Electoral Commission show that political parties continue to receive tens of millions of dollars of ‘dark money’ – showing a serious lack of integrity and transparency in our political system.

Analysis of the donations data by the #OurDemocracy campaign shows that dark money (income with no declared source) made up 23% of the major parties’ receipts last financial year.*

Over the past 5 years, over $290 million has gone into the major parties coffers with no public record of where it has come from.

Saffron Zomer, Executive Director of the Australian Democracy Network said:
“Nearly a quarter of all major party income this year is dark money. Poorly defined categories of ‘donation’ and ‘other receipt’ further muddy the waters of what money is changing hands between corporate Australia and the major parties – and what this cash for access means for critical policy decisions”

“It is disappointing to have passed another year without reforms being introduced to ensure real transparency of who is giving large donations to our political parties. This is the Albanese government’s next big test on integrity – these donation laws must be fixed before the next election.”

Clancy Moore, CEO of Transparency International Australia said:
“Today’s data from the AEC shows increasing piles of dark money lining the pockets of our major political parties which have a corrupting influence and erode trust in our democracy.

“With the federal 2025 election around the corner, the Albanese government can pass reforms including real-time disclosure and lowering the donation threshold.”

*These figures were calculated by comparing the total receipts reported by all branches of the Australian Labor Party, Liberal Party, National Party, and Liberal National Party; compared to the total of their detailed receipts which list a source for the income.

#OurDemocracy is a broad civil society coalition advocating to end excessive corporate influence in federal politics.

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