In some ways, the campaign finance system down under has a lot in common with its American counterpart, despite the vastly different spending totals between Australia and the U.S. The most important of these similarities is probably the prominence of corporate donations. In Australia, these donations represent the vast majority of all donations, followed by donations from trade unions to the Labor party, with individual donations sauntering across the line a distant third.
Corporate funding for political parties is a controversial issue in Australia, as the rules open up some very prevalent and widely exploited loopholes. The biggest issue is disclosure requirements. There is a threshold for corporate contributions that increases slightly each year which determines whether or not the contribution must be disclosed. Currently, this threshold is $13,200 for each of the eight territories, as well as the national election. Such a high threshold limit for corporate contributions allows Australian corporations to spread around nearly $120,000 without being identified to the Australian Electoral Commission.
Public funding is also available for Australian political candidates and accounts for a significant portion of campaign spending. The amount of public funding varies but is currently just over $2.60 per eligible vote. Unlike the U.S., Australian candidates are not forced to choose between public and private funding, and parties are allowed to take donations from both sources simultaneously.
Learn more about politics down under and campaign finance around the world. No matter where you are, when it’s time to Raise The Money, we’ve got you covered! Stay tuned as we follow the money across the Atlantic to see how campaign finance is done in the U.K.