GetUp’s rise to be the biggest third party political spender

In a past life I wrote a reasonable amount about campaign finance law, particularly as it applied to third parties (organisations active in politics but not standing for office). My interest was sparked by a letter from the AEC suggesting that perhaps I should be making a disclosure. I have followed the issue since, but in less detail as higher education issues consumed more of my time.

Third parties need to disclose their spending on various political activities. As with donations generally, 2014-15 was a low-spending year, as seen in the chart below.

Pol expenditure trends

The main item of interest in recent years is how GetUp has rapidly increased its spending, from $3 million in 2012-13 to $10.5 million in 2014-15. On its own, it was responsible for more than 70 per cent of all the declared political expenditure for 2014-15. As can be seen in the chart below, unions and business groups are traditionally the biggest spenders. Business and union groups spend when they need to; their main purpose is not campaigning to the general public. GetUp’s purpose is campaigning, and it needs to keep finding issues that motivate its donors. So we should expect it to be among the consistent big spenders.

Donor groups

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