How much PwC, KPMG, EY and Deloitte donate to political parties

13 February 2022 3 min. read
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The Australian Electoral Commission has released its political donor data for the 2020-21 financial year, with Big Four firms among the largest major party benefactors.

Professional services firms PwC and KPMG have emerged as among the top dozen declared Australian political donors in the last financial year, with each handing out close to a quarter of a million dollars to the nation’s major parties. Deloitte followed among the Big Four, at a shade under $100,000, while Ernst & Young gave $76,000 according to the latest disclosure figures published by the Australian Electoral Commission.

Both KPMG and PwC gave the Liberal and Labor parties a total of almost exactly $120,000 each across state and federal branches, an uncanny split considering the sporadic nature of the donations.

How much PwC, KPMG, EY and Deloitte donate to political parties

For example, PwC donations ranged from $60 through to $45,000, and occurred in every month of the year bar December while covering almost every state. Donations from Deloitte and EY were also reasonably split between the two parties.

While the overall Deloitte and EY totals remained stable on the previous reporting period, both the PwC and KPMG outlays jumped by upwards of $75,000, although for PwC the $246,000 figure still falls way short of the record $386,000 donated over the 2018/19 period. From the middle of 2015 up until July of last year, PwC collectively dolled out political donations to the tune of $1.7 million, well over double the amount during the prior six-year block.

Donations made since July remain publicly undisclosed, and won’t be published until 2023 – well after the upcoming federal election. Cynics commonly note the rise in political donations during an election year, and this holds true among the Big Four with respect to the 2019 election, which saw decade-long record or close to record donations by each. 2016 also marked a jump, with PwC climbing from $90,000 in 2014/15 to $232,000 one year later.

Since 2015, PwC – the largest of the Big Four in Australia – has consistently been the highest declared donor, while Deloitte has given the least. Yet, Australia’s disclosure regime continues to receive widespread criticism, with the published figures far from painting a clear picture. Donations below the $14,300 threshold needn’t be disclosed, while those required to be accounted for less than 10 percent of the major party income for 2020/21 regardless.

Around one third of the income falls into the uncatalogued ‘other receipts’ bracket, which includes revenue generated through other fundraising efforts such as corporate functions, which both funnel money into party coffers and provide direct access. It also doesn’t include small-item gifts to government officials such as event and conference tickets, or personal donations below the threshold from individuals who may hold positions of corporate influence.

The Big Four have enjoyed a golden run in recent times (and more generally since the Coalition came to power), together raking in more than $750 million in published federal government contracts in 2020 alone. Yet, while federal earnings rose by over at least 20 percent in 2020 for KPMG, EY and Deloitte (almost 40 percent in the case of the latter), PwC wasn’t an especial beneficiary of the government consulting cash splash, up by only 1 percent.