The annual third-party political expenditure disclosures were put on the Australian Electoral Commission website today. I’ve updated my spreadsheet tracking spending by broad source, below.
After three years of business outspending unions, the unions are just back in front. However both categories hide that 2012-13 was the year of education campaigns. The biggest single spend was $6.2 million by the Australian Education Union. The second-biggest spend was $4.8 million by Universities Australia. Adding in some other smaller campaigns, 47% of third-party political expenditure for 2012-13 was on education-related issues.
As the previous government raided the higher education budget to fund schools, it looks like the AEU had the better return on investment, if you believe that these campaigns make a difference.