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REVEALED: Exactly how much each party spends on their election campaign

Tony Abbott eats a raw onion on a tour of Tasmanian onion farm in 2017. (Image: ABC News)
Tony Abbott eats a raw onion on a tour of Tasmanian onion farm in 2017. (Image: ABC News)

Yahoo Finance will have the election covered this Saturday. Stay tuned to the website and your inbox for our coverage.

Clive Palmer's United Australia Party is set to break the all-time record for political spending in Australia.

The party itself has already estimated it would spend $50 to 60 million for the current federal election campaign, and political marketing expert Andrew Hughes says it is on track to make that a reality.

"It's a record figure in Australian politics. It represents a huge amount of cash spent to get influence," the Australian National University lecturer told Yahoo Finance.


The two biggest parties – Labor and Liberal – are each expected to end up spending $15 million for the current campaign.

Palmer will end up smashing the previous record, set during the 2004 federal election when Labor and Liberal each spent an estimated $20 million (worth $28 million now).

The UAP even beats the all-time spending high for campaigns outside of elections.

"The Minerals Council of Australia campaign against the Mining Rent Resource Tax was at $17 million, but that was outside the election," said Hughes.

Politics going digital

Hughes said that campaign advertisement spending in Australia is actually trending down.

"Because they might be moving their spend away from traditional [media] to digital, where it's a bit cheaper. So they might get more bang for their buck."

Digital advertising is also effective for parties because a compulsory blackout period for political advertising only applies to traditional media.

Free-to-air networks, for example, can't show campaign ads on television from 12am Thursday but they will be showing them on their streaming apps right up to voting time.

The blackout law, originally designed to give voters a break from ads for the last couple of days before polling, is thus losing its relevance because of the internet.

Should there be a 'salary cap'?

For the period from March 11 to May 5, the UAP spent $17.395 million while the Liberals and Labor spent $5.2 million each.

But consider how democracy could be affected by money when noting the Greens have only had $70,000 to spend in that same period.

Hughes told Yahoo Finance that an advertising limit on each party, similar to a salary cap in sports, might be a good idea for future campaigns.

"Maybe what we need to think about is a cap on the number of ads, rather than a cap on the spend."

Research has also found voters have a sharp dislike for negative attack ads, and that phenomenon has pushed Australians to the minor parties.

"The minor parties so often don't do negative advertising. They focus a lot more on how great their policy is... It's a lot more positive conversation they have with people," he said.

"I don't know many people that will say 'I can't wait to watch more negative ads’."

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