Liberal MPs paid AU$2,500 a YEAR to donor for electoral software licences

For that price you could run a decent cloud instance all day, every day

Who pays AU$2,500 for an annual software license, for a handful of users? That question is on Vulture South's mind, with the Liberal Party under fire during the election for doing just that.

The nearly-but-not-quite “scandal” (for example reported here at Fairfax) centres around Liberal Party members paying what seems to be a steep software license price of $2,500 annually for an electoral management system provided by a major donor to the party, Parakeelia.

Electoral records show the company has donated more than $1 million to the party, its only customer.

Parakeelia was set up back in the dark ages of the late 1980s, when such license fees were more commonplace. In the early 1990s, it worked with consumer data management outfit Acxiom, whose Australian office was set up by Andrew Robb, trade minister in the Turnbull government now seeking re-election.

The Register isn't in a position to assess whether or not Parakeelia's prices were inflated to funnel taxpayer-funded electoral allowances back to the party, but we're interested to see what $2,500 a year would buy from big-name software vendors.

Creative Cloud: 2.6 seats – Adobe has been criticised from time to time for “Australia taxing” its software, but at $79.99 per month, it's cheaper than Parakeelia's EMS. You'd get two full Creative Cloud licenses (access to all applications) with change left over.

Amazon EC2 – If you wanted to run up an m3.large instance with two vCPUs, 6.5 ECUs, 7.5 GB of memory and 32 SSDs, you'd only spend $1,752, so why not use the change to buy a couple of single Adobe Creative Cloud apps?

Microsoft Azure SQL databases – If you need nine SQL database services running all day, every day, you can have them for $2,344 annually.

Microsoft Office 365 – At $11.20 per user, per month, an electoral office with 18 staff could easily cover Office 365 Enterprise E1 licenses for everyone without outspending the Parakeelia price.

We're sure there are plenty of other ways $2,500 a year could give our MPs value for money in their software purchases. Suggestions in the comments, please. ®

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