​Village Roadshow continues donations in favour of Liberal Party

The media company donated AU$160,000 more to the Liberal Party than the Labor Party during the 2014-15 financial year, according to the Australian Electoral Commission donor disclosures.

Village Roadshow, the company most vocally backing the Australian government's crackdown on online infringement, donated AU$160,000 in additional funding to the Liberal Party than the Labor Party during the last financial year.

According to party disclosures by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC), Village Roadshow donated AU$176,000 to the Liberal Party versus AU$12,800 to the Labor Party during the 2014-15 financial year.

The organisation's donations for both political parties is down on the previous year, when the company donated AU$227,500 to the Labor Party, and AU$329,919 to the Liberal Party.

For the past few years, Village Roadshow has become synonymous with lobbying the Australian government to put a stop to piracy.

The company's co-CEO Graham Burke told ZDNet in 2014: "We make AU$2.6 billion-worth of films in Australia. If the piracy thing is not nailed, it's over mate. O-V-E-R."

Last June, both houses of parliament gave the all clear to pass legislation that forces internet service providers to block websites linking to copyright-infringing content.

Under the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Act 2015 right holders are able to obtain a court order to block websites hosted overseas that are deemed to contain copyright-infringing material or facilitate user access to copyright-infringing material.

According to the AEC disclosures, both Foxtel and Google Australia only donated to the Labor Party during the period at a total of AU$18,500 and AU$60,000 respectively.

Google Australia, however, has clarified in a tweet that even though its donation was listed for the Labor Party, the donation was for Chifley Research Centre, an organisation that refers to itself on its website as the "official think tank of the Australian Labor Party". Google also stated that it gave the same amount to the so-called "independent think tank associated with the Liberal Party of Australia", the Menzies Research Centre.

Other donors during the year included Australia's four major banks: ANZ donated AU$80,000 to the Labor Party and AU$100,000 to the Liberal Party; Commonwealth Bank donated AU$47,125 to the Labor Party and AU$56,555 to the Liberal Party; National Australia Bank donated AU$35,600 to the Labor Party and AU$239,686 to the Liberal Party; and Westpac donated AU$73,300 to the Labor Party and AU$103,155 to the Liberal Party.

The Commonwealth Bank disputed the definition of donation, saying that the practice was banned inside the banking group, and instead the funds from the bank to political parties were "party-related expenses".

"Some political events cater for business observers. These events are not donations but are reported to Commonwealth or State electoral agencies which have set disclosable contribution caps for party-related expenses," it said in a statement.

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu donated AU$75,955 to the Labor Party and AU$83,655 to the Liberal Party, while Visa donated AU$46,000 to the Labor Party and AU$112,640 to the Liberal Party.

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