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Tobacco companies are biggest political spenders

Tobacco companies spent about A$14 million fighting plain packaging laws.

Australia New figures have revealed the political spending of tobacco companies, the mining industry and clubs as they fought to reverse government policy in the past financial year.

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has released financial disclosure returns that show the donations of more than A$11,500 made to political parties and the political expenditure of donors.

Large tobacco companies spent about A$14 million as they fought against the Federal Government’s plain packaging laws.

British American Tobacco, Phillip Morris and Imperial Tobacco gave a total of A$9 million to the Alliance of Australian Retailers, which led the campaign against the laws.

Imperial Tobacco also separately spent more than A$4 million fighting the move with printed material and broadcast advertising and Philip Morris added to that with nearly A$500,000.

The Coalition also received donations worth A$184,000 from British American Tobacco and A$79,000 from Philip Morris.

Mining companies and associated lobby groups were also big donors and big campaigners as they fought the Government’s tax on mining profits and the carbon pricing scheme.

The Minerals Council of Australia spent nearly A$4 million fighting the tax, with most of that spent on broadcast advertising.

The Association of Mining and Exploration Companies spent another A$2.2 million.

Clive Palmer’s Mineralogy gave the Coalition parties, at federal and state levels, nearly A$500,000.

His Queensland Nickel gave another A$500,000 to Queensland’s LNP.

Lion’s share

Fighting the crackdown on poker machines cost Clubs New South Wales close to A$1 million.

It also gave nearly A$500,000 in political donations, with the lion’s share going to the Coalition.

The Australian Hotels Association also spent more than A$850,000 on donations, most of which again went to the Liberal and National parties.

The AEC figures also show political activist group Get Up spent A$5 million on political campaigning, while the Australian Council of Trade Unions spent A$6.5 million.

The individual donor who gave the most was travel website millionaire Graeme Wood, who gave A$1.6 million to the Greens.

Total donations to the major political parties came to more than A$200 million.

The Labor Party received about A$92 million and the Coalition took in nearly A$113 million.

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