Climate 200 the big money behind the independent candidates

Parliament’s Electoral Committee is looking at the measures and Special Minister of State Don Farrell repeated his earlier remarks that ‘we intend to legislate’ – after the committee’s report – when asked about donations important to Climate 200. The administration wing of the Labor Party told the committee it wanted donation caps.

Rob Keldoulis, pictured at his desk, said he did not see his donation as an investment requiring a return.Credit:Steven Siewert

But Climate 200 executive director Byron Fay said the donations leveled the playing field for independent candidates. “They came from every constituency in the country, including a third from rural and regional Australia,” he said.

Statistics from Climate 200 show that 85% of its 11,200 donors have each given $500 or less, with 75% of the total choosing to make their names public immediately on its website. Climate 200 aimed to provide a maximum of half of a candidate’s campaign funding.

On Monday, the names of 63 donors who gave more than the legal threshold of $14,500 will be released by the Elections Commission along with information about donations from other candidates, Senate groups and donors. Political parties, including the Coalition and Labour, which can spend tens of millions per election, tend to report their data via annual returns released in February.

Climate 200 founder Simon Holmes a Court and his family philanthropy vehicle Trimtab Foundation donated $250,000, just under 2% of the total $13 million raised by Climate 200.


Atlassian Cannon-Brookes co-founder’s climate campaign entity, Boundless Earth, donated a total of $1.18 million to Climate 200 and two candidates. Now-ACT Senator David Pocock received $50,000 and Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey, whose failed attempt to overthrow National MP Keith Pitt was not supported by Climate 200, received a lower amount. Farquhar and his wife Kim Jackson donated $1.5 million to Climate 200.

Farquhar and Cannon-Brookes did not make themselves available for an interview, but emphasized urgent climate action in statements about their donations.

Former moderate Liberal MP Jason Falinski, who lost his seat on Sydney’s northern beaches to Climate 200-backed Sophie Scamps, said the organization’s disclosure of donations from super-wealthy people months after the election was bad for ordinary Australians who lacked that money.

“I think it’s a pretty serious hack of Australian democratic processes and it’s fundamentally a lack of transparency,” Falinski said.

Climate 200 supports real-time disclosure rules and lower thresholds for donors to reveal their identities, but has previously argued that caps on donations or spending could have “perverse effects on democracy” due to the advantage enjoyed by cardholders.

Six new Climate 200-backed independents were elected to the lower house in the 2022 elections, along with a senator and the re-election of four MPs.

Nick Fairfax, a scion of the Fairfax family who once owned this masthead, and his wife Sandra donated $100,000, while the Milgrom family of retailers donated $500,000, both matching contributions from small donors.

Of Keldoulis’ donations, $1.2 million went to Climate 200 and $659,000 went directly to a range of independents.

Keldoulis said he decided to donate after a contact encouraged him to listen to a speech by Holmes in court which convinced him that Labor’s insistence that MPs vote with the party and the ambition of coalition MPs meant that neither would challenge the party leadership to vote for the wishes of their constituents. . His 17-year-old son Felix, who is even more passionate about politics than his father, has also gotten involved, following poll results and election night results.

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