Feisty GetUp outspends everyone on political campaigns
NATIONAL campaign group GetUp spent more than $10 million on political campaigning last year, new data has revealed.
Political expenditure data released by the Australian Electoral Commission showed GetUp was the biggest public campaigner in the country last year.
The group forked out five times the $2.1 million the Australian Council of Trade Unions spent on political campaigning in 2014-15.
Most other unions spent less than $100,000.
Figures show the 2014-15 financial year marked GetUp's biggest annual spend since its creation in 2005. The group, which has more than one million members, spent more than $8.3 million on the "public expression" of political views, $1.3 million on broadcasting political messages and $362,502 commissioning polls.
A spokesman for GetUp said the money was raised through 54,402 individual donors and spent campaigning on issues including asylum seeker treatment, the Great Barrier Reef, climate change, metadata laws and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
University of Sydney political finance expert Associate Professor Anika Gauja said GetUp had consistently spent more each year since it was established.
And, she said, unlike unions or other "third parties", the online-based group spent millions irrespective of whether an election was approaching.
"The way they campaign is not linked to elections - it's about issues and they are trying to set the agenda in their campaigns," Assoc Prof Gauja said.
"I think it is part of the wider disaffection with the usual political process that their membership is growing as the major political parties' base is shrinking."
With the group often linked to left-leaning issues, Assoc Prof Gauja said it might also have created an outlet for political expression from people who would have once joined the Labor Party, the Greens or the Democrats.
Assoc Prof Gauja added it was "interesting" no similar group had emerged in Australian conservative politics, perhaps indicating people with progressive views were more likely to actively seek to get involved in politics.