Coal and gas donations wrote the Safeguard legislation, new AEC donations data reveals


Political donations data published today by the Australian Electoral Commission shows that the Liberals, Nationals and Labor raked in a combined $241 million in donations in the 2021-22 financial year, with millions contributed by coal and gas corporations and their lobby groups.

Woodside, whose Burrup Peninsula gas project Scarborough has been supported by both sides of politics and was the subject of recent protests, donated $68,150 to the ALP, $21,700 to the Nationals and $20,080 to the Liberal Party. Gas lobby APPEA gifted $54,250 to the ALP, followed by $31,000 to the Liberals and $28,720 to the Nationals. Serial tax avoiding gas corporation Santos donated $83,360 to the ALP, followed by $38,000 to the Liberals and $32,300 to the Nationals.

Gas corporation Tamboran Resources donated $200,000, of which $138,000 went to the Coalition and $62,000 went to Labor. In the same financial year, Tamboran Resources received a $7.5m grant from the Coalition for natural gas exploration at the Beetaloo. The Greens attempted to disallow the grant in the Senate, but ALP supported the grant.

The Greens say the financial relationship between the fossil fuel sector and the Labor Party explains why Labor’s Safeguard Mechanism backs more coal and gas, which in its current form contravenes International Energy Agency and the UN Secretary General advice by allowing every planned new coal and gas project from the Morrison government to proceed. Reporting today indicates the Liberal Party are likely to vote against the Safeguard Mechanism in the Senate and the government will likely need the support of the Greens. Greens Leader Adam Bandt has previously said new coal and gas projects will be the sticking point for any negotiations.

Late last year, Senator Larissa Waters re-introduced a bill to ban donations from coal and gas corporations and other sectors with a track record of buying influence, and cap all other political donations at $1,000 per year.

Lines attributable to Greens Leader Adam Bandt MP:

“These dirty donations explain why Labor is allowing new coal and gas in the safeguard mechanism.

“Woodside and Santos donated more to the ALP than the Liberals and Nationals combined, and they’ve been repaid with free reign to open new projects and trash the climate.

“Labor is taking money from the coal and gas corporations causing the climate crisis and then proposing laws that allow new coal and gas projects to go ahead.

“It has become clear today that Labor’s climate plan was paid for by coal and gas. Labor’s plan for more coal and gas means floods, fires and food supply problems will get worse.

“The coal and gas donors' fingerprints are all over Labor’s safeguard legislation.”

Lines attributable to Greens leader in the Senate and spokesperson on democracy Senator Larissa Waters:

“Today’s data once again shows that money talks, with more than $241 million pocketed by the major parties in the last financial year.

“Coal and gas projects, energy companies and mineral and resource councils all feature heavily. Is it any wonder the fossil fuel sector continues to benefit? The Albanese government handed out $42.7 billion over ten years of fossil fuel subsidies in the last budget, turbo charging climate destruction.

“Santos, which is pushing to frack the Beetaloo basin, received $16 million in public money for its Moomba Carbon Capture and Storage Project and gave $154,000 to the major parties. That’s a pretty good return on investment!

“The Minerals Council, who recently threatened to ‘unleash an ad campaign against Labor unless it rules out windfall profits tax’, gave nearly a quarter of a million to the major parties in 2021-22. And there is still no windfall profits tax on the horizon.

“These are only the donations that Australians are told about. More than a third of all donations fall below the $14,500 disclosure threshold, and many ‘membership fees’ and cash-for-access event fees are not classed as donations so stay hidden from public view.

“The Greens have legislation to cap political donations to $1,000 per year no matter who the donor, and to ban donations from dirty industries with a track record of seeking to buy policy outcomes, including the fossil fuel sector.

“We will continue to use our balance of power in the Senate to push Federal Labor to cap political donations and ban them from influential industries, including the fossil fuel sector, gambling, banking, defence, and pharmaceuticals.

“The Greens have been campaigning for decades to clean up our democracy. It’s time for Labor to come to the table and work with us to ensure politicians work in the public interest, not the interest of their donor mates.”