Optus tops political donations list

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Optus tops political donations list

ICT firms lower donations.

Optus has topped the list of IT and telecommunications companies making political donations for the first time, providing $86,252 to state and federal Labor and coalition branches.

In what was generally a low year for donations from the technology sector, the number two telco slightly increased its political activity, providing $22,266 in donations to the federal Labor party in 2010-11.

An additional $9326 was directed largely toward events organiser Progressive Business, which runs networking events for Labor members and business leaders.

As with previous years, however, Optus appeared to favour the coalition in donations, donating $54,660 to the federal Liberal and National parties, as well as the Victorian and NSW state branches.

Some donations were also directed toward events run by Liberal MP and former Optus executive, Paul Fletcher.

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

Overall, the Optus' donations were a $2855 increase on the previous financial year.

Traditionally second in the race to lobby politicans on technology and telco issues, Optus was comfortably top of the list for 2010-11 after rival telco and data centre operator Macquarie Telecom made no political donations.

It marks the first time in a decade that Macquarie Telecom has not made the Australian Electoral Commission's register, despite donating more than $263,000 to parties last year.

The remainder of the ICT sector, however, was quiet.

Online market eBay made its first donation in three years, with $13,750 given to the Labor party. The funds are a tenth of the $137,940 it donated in the 2007-8 financial year.

Consultancies KPMG, Pricewaterhousecoopers and Deloitte collectively donated $437,760 to state and federal branches of both parties, while Leighton Contractors led the construction industry with more than $170,000 in donations to both parties.

Springfield Land Corporation, part constructor of the Polaris data centre in Brisbane and a traditionally heavy donor, also scaled back in funding, with $19,121 donated to the Queensland branch of the Labor party and $60,150 to the Liberal party's Queensland branch.

Film studio Village Roadshow donated nearly $850,000 over the year, more than 11 times its donations to parties in comparison to the previous year. It listed radio group Austereo as an affiliated company in the donations.

Village Roadshow is involved in a long-running suit against ISP iiNet over copyright infringement.

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