Macquarie Telecom retains spot as tech's top political donor

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Macquarie Telecom retains spot as tech's top political donor

As Afterpay makes first-time donation.

Macquarie Telecom topped Australia’s list of political donors from the technology sector for a second year in a row in 2020-21, while Afterpay made its first ever donation to the two major political parties.

Annual donations data released by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) on Tuesday shows Macquarie Telecom donated $172,098 to the major parties last financial year.

The donation is slightly lower than the $186,700 the telco gave in 2019-20 – when it reclaimed its spot as the technology sector’s largest political donor – and the $176,500 it paid in 2018-19.

The Labor Party was the biggest recipient, scoring $87,650, while the Liberal and National parties received a combined $84,448.

Macquarie Telecom is one of the most regular and generous political donors from the Australian technology sector, having topped the small list of donors in all but two years since 2010-11.

It has traditionally been followed by Optus, but last year the telco was pipped by Bevan Slattery's investment arm CapitalB, which donated $130,800 in 2020-21– all of which went the Liberal Party.

CapitalB, which rebranded as Soda last month, last donated in 2016-17, when it gave $33,000 to the Liberals.

Amazon also climbed the donor list in 2020-21, donating a total of $70,950 to the major parties, including $40,700 to the Liberals.

Amazon made its first political donation in the form of Amazon Web Services during the 2018-19 election year, when it gave $14,200 to the Country Labor Party.

Optus gave a total of $70,000 to the two major parties, but unlike previously years the donation was not split evenly. The Liberal Party received $41,500 and Labor $28,500.

Next on the list for 2020-21 was Afterpay, which made its first-ever donation to Australian political parties.

The buy now, pay later firm, which was recently acquired by payments firm Block, contributed $37,500 to the Liberal Party and $31,500 to Labor.

Afterpay was followed by Telstra, which gave a total of $66,407 – its highest donation since it resumed political donations in 2018-19 after a 20-year hiatus.

The telco donated a combined $44,412 to the Liberal ($25,278) and National ($19,134) Parties, while Labor received $21,995.

Vocus donated $4450 to the Liberal Party and $1000 to Labor in 2020-21, which is similar to the $8300 it donated to the two last year.

iTnews makes no suggestion of any impropriety relating to donors and the political parties involved.

Updated at 2:30pm to include data on CapitalB

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