The party links below show data for all electorates held by that party plus sources of revenue and political messaging associated with that party. The non-partisan options show results across all parties by the type of organisation reporting: party, associated entity, campaigner or by portfolio or electorate. These results are listed by income or spend desc.
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Media and Journalism
The Guardian Innovation Australia The New Daily Eureka Street AusVotes 2019 Independent Australia Electronic Frontiers Australia Crikey Open Australia Foundation AOGPN blog Open Knowledge Foundation EGovAu Blog The Conversation IdeasHoist ABC PM Radio Power to Persuade Croakey International Budget Partnership Sydney Morning Herald Online Opinion New Matilda No Fibs Sunday Life Magazine
I launched the domain AusGov.info at Linux Conference Australia in January 2018, however this work is the result of years devoted to programming and transparency work beginning in 2012 and progressively expanded and improved upon over the intervening years.
The pecuniary interests register data was originally supplied by icacpls however I have updated it manually (or not as time permits) for the past couple of years.
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The figures in this site are either raw data at line-item level or totals/percentages - which are the result of algorithms or joins (programmatic matches between two lists) - written by myself in MySQL, which in turn are based on open data provided by Australian government agencies.
This data ranges in quality between datasets, is updated at different intervals and is published to different standards and in different formats.
The data you see in this site is edited by myself (unused fields are removed, names of programs/agencies/entities are spelled consistently within & between datasets). Data cleaning is a significant job. All care has been taken to represent every single figure accurately, however mistakes can be made either by the entity providing data to the government, the agency providing the data back to the public or at my end as I further transform this data for use.
It is important to understand that while opinions and inferences can be made based on the data on this site, that the data is not in and of itself an inference or an opinion. Inferences and opinions using data in this site remain the legal responsibility of the author of those opinions.
Financial transparency in Australia's charity sector has a surprisingly short history. It was only in 2012 that the outgoing Labor government established a dedicated charity regulator, the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profit Commission which requires charities to report their finances and operations for public scrutiny on an annual basis.
Even then, the legislation to establish the ACNC was only put in place once a reporting loophole was tacked on, exempting religious charities from reporting and governance requirements when they self-assess as Basic Religious Charities.
In addition to the Basic Religious Charity reporting loophole and despite receiving billions for the delivery of social services, the option to report as a group can mean charities carrying out different activites in different states can aggregate their finances into a single set of numbers, vastly reducing the utility of those figues in gaining an independent and objective analysis of their activities.
The consequences of group reporting mean that for 16% of the $166 billion revenue declared by charities in 2019 there is no breakdown by individual ABN or location which means they can't be filted by electorate or similar settings. Nor can we tell which activities were carried out by which group member and where.
Total Revenue by Electorates
Total Revenue by Activity
I realised the problems posed by group reporting for researchers when I sought to estimate the amounts earned by employment agencies and op shops owned by religious charities and the numbers of income support recipients forced to provide $300 a fortnight in unpaid labour to these charities with no superannuation or other worker rights.
The Salvation Army is a good example of the difficulties in transparency created by both group reporting and Basic Religious Charity exemptions. The Salvation Army runs a network of op shops and employment services among other activites across the country and a majority of their ABNs are aggregated into a single set of figures with no breakdown by entity or function. Excluded from this group reporting are the Salvation Army property trusts. Many of these trusts are excused from financial reporting by claiming to be Basic Religious Charities so provide no financial or staff information despite these entities holding the trading names for op shops and employment services and in the case of the Victorian property trust, taking in millions annually in government funding.
Secular organisations recieve no such privacy over their operations and it takes some explaining as to why, when even the ACNC itself recommended the removal of the Basic Religious Charity loophole in the five year legislative review, that the government chose to continue it?
Despite receiving over $3 million in a single tender in 2018 to run ParentsNext, and over $100 million in 2019 alone, the Victorian Salvation Army property trust provides no finances to the ACNC by claiming to be a 'small' charity and/or a Basic Religious Charity.
Commonwealth grants & tenders for recent years for The Trustee for The Salvation Army (Victoria) Property Trust ABN:64472238844
The Salvation Army 2019 Annual Report claims their 340 op shops across the country are staffed by 10,000 'volunteers'. With the revenue taken from running the employment services which are known for their avid punishment of income support recipients and the financial benefits from that free labour, it is reasonable to ask whether the pretty picture painted by their carefully crafted Annual Reports reflect the experiences of those required to work for them without the right to call themselves employed?
At what point does a charity stop representing the poor and become an agent of government surveillance? Few people would consider the forced attendence to ParentsNext or Employment Services to be a religious experience and the use of forced labour in op shops in return for welfare payments is an ethical dilemma for organisations which stake their social licence on the belief they are helping the poor rather then helping themselves.
An additional reporting issue depends on charity size. According to the ACNC, 'small' charities can please themselves whether they provide financial reports to the ACNC and they are not subject to review or audit.
Far from closing down reporting loopholes, the government is currently in the process of increasing the revenue thresholds under which charities can claim to be small charities (and therefore not required to supply financial reports to the regulator) from $250,000 a year to at least $500,000.
Every charity has to provide financial information to the ACNC in the Annual Information Statement, regardless of its size. Each charity assesses its size, but the revenue it reports in the Annual Information Statement has to align with that size. (ACNC spokesperson)
When questioned, the ACNC claims that every charity must provide financial information and that the charity size claimed by each charity has to align with their financial reports. The ACNC neglects to mention that for small charities, the supply of financial reports to the ACNC is voluntary so there is no way for the charity regulator to establish one way or the other whether a charity is actually a small charity or just claiming to be.
Religious charities outnumber all others in both the small and medium categories so with more medium charities able to claim the small charity reporting exemption and not compelled to provide reports to back this up, even more wealth will be hidden from view.
Charity Size by Number
Charity Size by Activity
Given that in both number and revenue, small and medium religious charities outweigh those operating for any other purpose, it will be the religious sector that benefits most from the increased lack of transparency that comes with the new thresholds. To make matters worse, over half (8,445) of the 14,000+ religious charities provide no financial information at all regardless of size courtesy of the Basic Religious Charity loophole.
This absence of accountability and scrutiny for the religious sector stands in stark contrast to the increasing regulation of environmental and civil rights charities which are facing extending governance requirements to allow the charity Commissioner the power to de-register charities seen to promote civil disobediance.
When the former IPA Research Fellow, Gary Johns took over the charity regulator after the original Commissioner had fought its abolition by the Abbott government, concerns were raised about the politicisation of Australia's regulators. With hindsight we can now see the changes that politicsation has wrought, both in terms of lifting scrutniy from the religious sector and in increasing it on those charities most willing to stand up to conservative powers.
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