June 17, 2016

New report: Australian fossil fuel companies highly secretive about political donations

Friday June 17: A report released by the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) today finds that Australian fossil fuel companies are notoriously secretive about the scale of money (including donations)  they spend on politics, with shareholders footing the bill for buying political influence without their knowledge.

The Corporate political expenditure in Australia report details how little Australians know about political donations and all the ways that companies spend money to influence politics,   It is clear that political expenditure by the fossil fuel lobby has captured our politicians and policy. It is this level of capture that has led to Australia becoming a global embarrassment in tackling dangerous global warming.

In 1990 Australian emissions per capita exceeded OECD average levels by 47%, by 2013 that had increased to 75% as average OECD levels fell whilst Australia’s had increased.

“It is bad enough that our politicians court fossil fuel money, but failing to tell their shareholders when they spend millions on political donations is outrageous. These companies are secretly splurging shareholder’s money on buying political influence and no-one is holding them to account,” 350.org Australia campaign’s director Charlie Wood said.

“Shareholders should demand that these companies have the decency to tell them what they are doing with their money and should join the dots between their companies’ massive donations to the major parties and the crippling political inaction on climate that is killing the Great Barrier Reef, fuelling fires and facilitating floods.

In response to the findings,  Caroline Le Couteur, executive Director  ACCR , said “ACCR will be lodging a series of resolutions this AGM season to push for better disclosure.”

“Most shareholders would be shocked if they knew their money was contributing to blocking action on climate change and it is time for transparency.  Shareholder resolutions have changed what our big banks tell shareholders about climate change exposure and they can make a difference here as well’”

“It is no surprise that shareholder groups like the Australian Shareholders Association (ASA) agree that political donations should end.”

ASA Chairman Ian Curry has been a vocal advocate for ending political donations from the corporate sector, arguing that they are a bad use of shareholders’ money.

Media contact:

Full report is here

Caroline Le Couteur, executive director ACCR, 0405 221 587

Charlie Wood 350.org 0427 485 233

Louise Fraser 350.org 0438 9930 68