If you’re unhappy about the large number of high-profile companies that found a way not to make a profit and thus paid no tax in 2013-14, relax — a few of them are finding a way to give a little bit back to the country where they’re earning so much revenue and yet, seemingly, so little profit. They weren’t able to make a profit or pay tax, but they’re doing their bit for civic life by finding some spare change to give to political parties — particularly the Liberal Party.

Take global energy giant Chevron, for example, which earned over $3 billion in Australia in 2013-14 but, doubtless to the dismay of its executives, somehow failed to make a profit and thus paid no tax. Nevertheless, according to Australian Electoral Commission data (we’ve confined our search just to 2013-14), Chevron gave over $70,000 to the ALP and over $120,000 to the Coalition, mainly the Western Australian Liberal Party.

Building products giant Brickworks didn’t make quite as much money — it made just $860 million, but earned the same profit and paid the same amount of tax, zero. However, it was even more generous in political donations — it gave over $260,000 in donations to the Liberal Party federally and in NSW. Local investment firm Washington H. Soul Pattinson — which has extensive co-ownership with Brickworks — enjoyed over a quarter of a billion dollars in revenue but also made no profit. Nonetheless, it too gave generously to the Liberals, donating $250,000.

Health and beauty giant Australian Pharmaceutical Industries failed to make a buck off $3.3 billion in revenue, but it found $100,000 to give to the Liberal fundraising body the Free Enterprise Foundation.

Or there’s private healthcare provider Healthscope: $2.1 billion in revenue and no profit, but $39,000 in donations to the Liberal Party. Junior telco Macquarie Telecom made just under $200 million but no profit, but gave generously to Labor ($38,500), the LNP ($49,500) and the WA Greens ($25,000). Mincor Resources made no profit off $110 million in revenue but gave $15,000 to the WA Liberals.

US coal giant Peabody is currently in deep strife because of the depressed coal price but its Australian arm made over $3 billion in revenue in 2013-14 and donated $75,000 to the Coalition. Gold miner Silver Lake Resources had over $316 million in revenue and made no profit, but gave $20,000 to the Liberals. Then there’s Whitehaven Coal, which didn’t turn a profit on over a billion dollars, but gave $20,000 to the Liberals.

One might fault these companies for their inability to make money, but there’s no doubting their strong commitment to ensuring healthy political parties.

Peter Fray

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