Newspaper article The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Australia)

Lobby Group Creates PR 'War Chests'

Newspaper article The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Australia)

Lobby Group Creates PR 'War Chests'

Article excerpt

Byline: Daniel Burdon APN Newsdesk

THE mining industry's top lobby group has set aside more than $1million in a public relations war chest to prepare for a new advertising blitz.

The Minerals Council of Australia's 2014 financial records show the nation's top resources lobby holds $1.3million in its "campaign reserve".

The reserve is partly funded by leftover money from its $17million advertising anti-mining and carbon tax campaign, and its promotional This is Our Story television advertisements.

University of Queensland political expert Graeme Orr said amassing advertising war chests for public advocacy marked a "new normal" for third-party political campaigning in Australia.

"It shows that these groups are carrying over the reserves from previous campaigns, but it may also be a sign that this type of large-scale multi-million dollar campaigning is very useful to the industry and is becoming entrenched," he said.

While the MCA's $1million campaign reserve was small compared with the industry's previous campaigns, financial records show it is bolstered by $8.9million the MCA held in "accumulated funds".

That fund could be used for a range of purposes, but has in the past been transferred to campaigns.

The lobby group also uses special levies to help fund campaigns.

Professor Orr also said there was a divide between industry and "grassroots" campaigns.

"I do see a difference in corporate lobby groups funded by wealthy businesses and those funded largely by individual, small donations," he said.

"Environmental and social groups tend to have, by their nature, more community support, while the big cash-rich industry lobbies are mainly being backed by large corporate interests, which often already have a privileged position."

Financial documents show the MCA received more than $14million in membership fees in 2014, down from $21million in 2013, after it cut its membership fees for mining companies.

Across all states and territories, the top mining and gas industry lobby groups received about $50million in total last year, largely in membership fees that mining companies can claim as a business tax deduction. …

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