update Telstra, Optus, Microsoft, Deloitte and Macquarie Telecom donated thousands of dollars to NSW political parties in the second half of 2008, the state's Election Funding Authority has revealed.
Telstra donated a total of $54,830 in the period, including a $40,000 hand-out which earned it business partner status in the Australian Labor Party's "Business Dialogue", a separate $5,000 handover to the ALP for attendance at the NSW and Federal "Business Dialogue Forum", and attendance fees at Liberal and National Party events.
Optus' $2,470 went roughly equally to both the Liberal and Labor parties. While smaller telco Macquarie Telecom splurged $20,000 in total on the Liberal Party, including $10,000 to a Liberal Party conference in Malcolm Turnbull's seat of Wentworth, and $10,000 towards the 2007 Federal election.
Most large information technology companies (for example, IBM, Accenture, Hewlett-Packard and so on) did not donate any money to the NSW political process, but Microsoft disclosed it donated $4,250 to the Liberal Party.
Microsoft declined to comment, but its donations are understood to constitute the price of tickets to a 2007 budget dinner in Canberra. Telstra, Optus and Macquarie Telecom had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.
Another firm on the list was diversified consultancy Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, which gave a total of $104,891 in the period. Most of that went to the Liberal Party's Millennium Forum, set up to facilitate networking opportunities between the corporate sector and political leaders. The regular event was established as a fundraising initiative back in 1999.
Much of Deloitte's funding in the area went to hosting the forum, but the consultancy also backed the other side of politics with a $36,850 listed donation to the ALP. It has also hosted ALP events.
A spokesperson for Deloitte said the firm's political involvement was focused on events as it wanted to expose its clients to both political sides of the spectrum.
The news comes as governments around Australia and the world have stepped up efforts to provide more transparency in regards to lobbying efforts from corporations.
Anna Bligh's Queensland State Government earlier this month revealed technology giants like eBay, Cisco, SAP and Oracle had hired professional lobbying outfits to target the government, and a similar register unveiled last year in Canberra showed Telstra was the most active employer of lobbyists in the Federal Government arena.