Film studios outspend tech companies in political donations

In the 2012-13 financial year, Australia's political parties saw more donations from film studios than it did from technology companies.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

In the financial year ending three months before the 2013 federal election, Australian tech companies kept their political donations lower than in preceding years, while Village Roadshow significantly ramped up its donations to the Liberal Party.

According to the annual donor statements released by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) today, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu once again topped the list of tech companies donating to the political parties for the financial year ending June 30, 2013. According to the documents, the company increased its donations with the two major parties, donating AU$73,335 to Labor, AU$89,418 to the Liberals, and AU$17,964 to the Nationals.

Macquarie Telecom appears to have switched its donations from the Coalition to the ALP. The company gave AU$45,500 to the ALP and AU$88,000 to the Liberal Party in the 2011-12 financial year, but in 2012-13, gave no donations to the Liberal Party and was a major donor to the Labor Party, with AU$126,633 donated.

NEC IT Services also donated AU$30,000 to the Australian Labor Party's Northern Territory branch. The company has significant services contracts with the government in the territory, although the Country Liberals are currently in power.

Village Roadshow, which was one of the main litigants in the iiNet copyright case, and a member of the lobby group pushing for the government to crack down on online copyright infringement, all but ceased donating to the Labor Party, donating just AU$22,000 to Labor, down from AU$115,850 in the previous 12 months. But spending to the Liberal Party increased significantly, jumping from AU$142,000 in the 2011-12 financial year to AU$315,004.

The government is expected to respond to the Australian Law Reform Commission's review of the Copyright Act, and is expected to also address how to curb online copyright infringement later this month. Attorney-General George Brandis has already indicated that he will likely fall on the side of copyright holders, who have railed against calls for a Fair Use regime in Australia, and want to see the government act to deter copyright infringement.

Optus and Telstra appear to have not made any donations in the last financial year. Companies and individuals who made donations to the political parties in the lead up to the 2013 election between the end of June and September 7, 2013, will report these donations this time next year.

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