The Australian Electoral Commission’s political donations and expenditure information for 2010-11 was released today.
For the second year running, business and industry groups outspent left-wing groups, putting more than $21 million into their campaigns (this is an under-count as at least one big-spending industry association has not put in the required report). When the Coalition introduced these laws 2006, the aim was to harass the left-wing third parties that traditionally were the main players. However, increasingly they affect the business community.
Two-thirds of the business and industry spending was an attack on cigarette plain packaging laws. There will be a lot more declared for 2011-12, as the carbon tax and pokies campaigns intensified.
Over the time these laws have been in place, the interesting trend has been the rise of GetUp!, which has increased its spending nine-fold since 2006-07.
The ideological/issue right is much less active than the ideological/issue left in political advertising. For 2010-11 the miscellaneous right-wing groups were the conservative Australian Christian Lobby and the National Civic Council. However, the IPA has taken out a few full-page ads in the last 6 months, so this will add a small-government ideological voice to this political tactic.