Tech vendors drop off political donations list

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Tech vendors drop off political donations list

But Google surfaces with first-time donation.

Technology companies were conspicuously absent from the list of those who donated to political parties last year, but Google emerged as a first-time donor with a $60,000 injection into the Labor party.

Only three technology names appeared in the Australian Electoral Commission's periodic disclosures list of political party donors for 2014-15.

Google handed over $60,000 to the Australian Labor Party - which went to the party's official Chifley Research Centre think tank - but made no donations to the Liberal National Party.

The company said it gave the same amount to the Liberal-associated Menzies Research Centre.

According to the AEC's available figures, it is the first time Google has ever made a donation to an Australian political party.

SingTel Optus' donations to the Liberal National Party totalled $10,455 over the year, and $1500 for the ALP. It also gave $10,725 to Progressive Business, the fund-raising arm of Victorian Labor.

Foxtel also gave $18,500 to the ALP but none to the LNP.

Dropping off

Village Roadshow has long donated significant sums to both the major political parties, but this year cut down by half on the amount it handed over in 2013-14.

The film giant pledged $176,000 to the Liberal National Party - compared to the $329,919 it gave last year - and just $12,800 - compared to $22,000 in 2013-14 -  to Labor. 

Missing from the list entirely was Macquarie Telecom, which for the last few years has topped the list for political donations by technology companies. Last year it handed $49,500 to the Liberals, $48,500 to the ALP, and $25,000 to the Greens.

The company declined to comment directly but said there had been no change in its "long-standing policy of even-handed approach to donations to major parties".

Queensland-based enterprise software vendor TechnologyOne - which gave $31,225 to the Liberals and $1000 to Labor last year, and $21,300 to the Liberals the year prior - also opted not to donate again this year.

Overall, the biggest political donor for 2014-15 was Clive Palmer's troubled Queensland Nickel and Mineralogy businesses. The companies gave just under $10 million combined to his Palmer United Party. 

Update 5.2.16: Macquarie Telecom has updated its donation declaration list to indicate it provided $60,500 to the ALP and $22,000 to the LNP in 2014-15. It is unclear why the figures were not reflected in the AEC's report.

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