Tech companies go easy on political donations

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Tech companies go easy on political donations

Political donations from Australia’s technology and telecommunications giants are slowly drying up.

The Australian Electoral Commission released its annual financial disclosure returns data for 2018-19 (from 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019), and the data reveals that the May 2019 federal election didn't excite tech industry donors.

Macquarie Telecom has consistently been among the most generous in the tech industry. In this data release it's revealed to have given $176,500, nine percent less than 2017-18, with $127,500 going to the Labor Party and its branches, $43,500 to the Liberal Party and $5500 to the Nationals.

Three of Australia’s largest telcos all upped their political spends.

Optus donated $62,300 in FY18-19, an extra $3000 compared to the previous financial year. The telco was fairly even-handed with its donations, giving $28,500 to the ALP, $28,300 to the Libs and $5500 to the Nats.

The Liberal Party also reported $23,000 from Telstra, however a spokesperson for the telco said these payments were made to attend events. Vocus similarly returned to the donations register after a year off, donating $42,550 to both the Liberals and ALP.

Larger donations came from the ‘Big Four’ consultants, all of which have their own digital and tech practices. PWC was the most generous with $386,635, more than 32 percent higher than the previous year. It gave $174,816 to the ALP and $199,224 to the Coalition. Meanwhile EY gave $269,758, up 18 percent, KPMG gave $190,540, down 10.4 percent and Deloitte gave $175,779, up 4.8 percent.

While consultants with tech connections are still ready to turn out their pockets, political parties will have to look elsewhere other than tech for funds. That being said, IT was never the biggest donor group any way. If you’re wondering, the biggest donor in FY18-19 was Clive Palmer’s Mineralogy with $83,681,442 (no points for guessing where those donations went!)

The story has been updated to clarify that Telstra's reported donations were paid to attend events.

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