Donations to Australia’s two major political parties from the alcohol, gambling and tobacco industries peak during critical policy debates, a report has found.
The study, published in peer-reviewed medical journal the Drug and Alcohol Review on Tuesday, revealed that the Liberal National Party Coalition (LNP) and Australian Labor Party (ALP) received 12.4 million Australian dollars (US$8.9 million) from the three industries in the 10 years to June 2015.
Alcohol companies were the most significant donors, giving 7.65 million Australian dollars (US$5.52 million ) to the parties followed by gambling industry’s 2.87 million Australian dollars (US$2.07 million) and tobacco industry’s 1.92 million Australian dollars (US$1.38 million).
The supermarket industry was also a big player, giving 1.66 million Australian dollars (US$1.19 million) to the LNP and the ALP, both of which served terms in government in the 10-year period in question.
Donations from the alcohol industry to Labor peaked in 2008 and 2009 when the party, which was in government at the time, was fighting to introduce a tax on pre-mixed alcoholic beverages.
Similarly, the gambling industry gave the most money to the ALP in the same period when it was undertaking a major inquiry into gambling in Australia.
“Informants consistently observed that donations secured access to politicians,” the report said.
“They noted that political parties had a growing appetite for alcohol and gambling money after the ban by the major parties on accepting tobacco donations.”
Authors interviewed 28 current and former politicians, public servants, staffers and journalists.
One former politician said that donations gave an industry a more favourable outlook from a party.
“The real politics of it is that if there’s someone who can cause you pain and maybe even cause you to lose an election, you keep them close,” they said.
“If you know that they are a regular donor then you’ll obviously meet with them.”