The gambling industry declared A$1,294,501 in donations to Australian political parties in 2015-16. Our analysis of the latest Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) donation disclosures shows various branches of the Australian Hotels Association (AHA) were by far the biggest donors among gambling industry groups.
Collectively, the AHA showered the major parties with $522,478 in declared donations. Lagging a little behind the AHA last year was ClubsNSW, which donated $155,603.
Two casino operators, Crown and Star Entertainment, declared $168,491 and $77,200 respectively in 2015-16. Tabcorp and Tattersall’s chipped in $164,650 and $94,329 respectively.
Assorted other entities such as ClubsQld, the Sutherland Tradies Club and the Randwick Labor Club declared donations of between $17,050 and $50,000 each.
Overall, the Coalition parties were the “winners” from gambling donations reported in 2015-16, receiving a total of $770,861. The ALP received $523,640. This was a 60:40 split.
Former Labor senator Stephen Conroy, who left parliament in September, has gone to work for the gambling industry as head of a new body, Responsible Wagering Australia.
This is unsurprising. Conroy has been preceded in this course by several colleagues and opponents, including Labor’s former national secretary Karl Bitar and ex-Labor senator Mark Arbib. David White, a former minister in the Cain-Kirner Victorian Labor government, ended up working as a lobbyist for Tattersalls via lobbyist firm Hawker Britton.
Of the Liberals, Peta Credlin, former chief-of-staff to Tony Abbott, works for James Packer’s Consolidated Press Holdings, which owns a major share of gambling giant Crown. And one-time federal Liberal minister Helen Coonan continues to be a board member of Crown.
Former NSW premier Barry O’Farrell recently accepted a job as CEO of the industry body Racing Australia. He replaces former federal National Party minister Peter McGauran, who has gone off to work for Tabcorp.