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Briefing paper

Who pays the piper? Donations to federal political parties 1998/99 – 2019/2020

Political donations Election campaign funding Election campaigns Political parties Australia

Australian political parties reported receiving over $1.24 billion in donations in the 22 years from 1998/99 – 2019/2020. Both donor and party-reported disclosures to the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) reveal that the financing of our political parties is dominated by large and opaque donations. Donations peak in election years, suggesting that private interests seek to influence political outcomes. The 2019 Federal Election set the record for the most donations received.

Under the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Cth), disclosures are required of political parties and donors. This analysis collates and categorises disclosures made to the AEC by both donors and political parties over the period 1998/99 – 2019/2020; while this summary uses party-reported data, insofar as it is generally more accurate, donor-reported data is included in the full party profiles.

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