The Labor Party managed to narrowly out-raise and out-spend the Liberal Party in the 2010 election but the big funding advantage it had in the 2007 election almost entirely vanished, new figures from the Australian Electoral Commission show.
This morning, funding data for the 2010-11 financial year was released, finally allowing us to see who donated during the 2010 election, 18 months ago.
Federal Labor raised about $37 million and spent $36 million in 2010-11, the period covering the 2010 federal election, while the federal Liberal Party raised about $30 million and spent $35 million.
The comparison to 2007 is skewed because many donations would have been received in the 2009-10 financial year, especially from mining companies anxious to donate to the Liberals to halt the mining tax. Nonetheless, while the Liberals’ fund-raising and spending is similar to 2007, Labor’s crashed from more than $60 million in 2007 as Julia Gillard led Labor to a near defeat.
Overall figures are also skewed by the run of big-state elections in late 2010 and early 2011, with the Victorian, federal and NSW elections all occurring within the financial year, meaning there was a big call on donors’ pockets.
The Liberals’ fund-raising is notable for huge donations from individuals: Clive Palmer’s Mineralogy donated $300,000; IT sector millionaire Danny Wallis gave $100,000; Perth Liberal supporter Josephine Armstrong $92,000, Richard Pratt’s Pratt Holdings $150,000; Tory peer Michael Ashcroft, who is the subject of intense scrutiny in the UK over his business and tax practices, donated more than $270,000, a donation that would have been banned under the electoral funding reforms introduced into Parliament by John Faulkner and blocked by the Coalition and Steve Fielding.
In accordance with those failed reforms, federal Labor reported all donations above $1000, while the Liberals have only reported those above the legal threshold of $12,500.
Labor had its own big individual donors: Chinese-Australian businessman Dr William Chiu gave $100,000; Chinese property developer and prolific Chau Chak Wing gave $50,000 to the Liberals but his Honk Kong Kingson company gave $250,000 to Labor. Richard Pratt also gave $75,000 to Labor. But Labor’s donations are dominated as always by the union movement: the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing union donated $500,000; the CFMEU $100,000; the Health Services Union, which may yet bring down the government, $161,000, the National Union of Workers $100,000, the Shoppies $200,000, the AMWU $100,000.
As usual, Dick Honan’s Manildra was also a generous donor, giving $150,000 in donations and another $22,000 in other funding to Labor and $100,000 to the Nationals. Macquarie Telecom (for which there’s not yet a donor return) was again a big Labor donor, with $120,000.
NAB, Westpac and Macquarie Group were the only banks to donate — NAB gave $100,000 to Labor and $150,000 to the Liberals; Macquarie Group $40,000; Westpac gave more than $55,000 to both sides in small donations and “other” contributions (e.g. buying a table at a party fund-raiser). But ANZ, which has previously been a big and regular donor to both sides even outside of election years, gave $100,000 to both sides in May 2010 (i.e. before this reporting period) and then appears to have stopped.
Not surprisingly, the federal Liberals also benefited from big donations from resources companies — Queensland coal miner New Hope gave $100,000; Straits Resources $100,000. The WA Liberals branch, which gave by far the biggest state branch contribution to the federal party, managed more than $7 million in donations, with huge offerings, often in the multi-hundred thousand dollar range, from mining companies. And the pathology industry also gave generously to the Liberals in their efforts to overturn Labor’s changes to pathology funding, with Sonic Health giving $200,000, Ramsay Health $100,000 and the publicity-shy and litigious Edmund Bateman of Primary Health Care donating $50,000 to the Liberals.
Of the media companies, only Village Roadshow — $200,000 to Labor and $140,000 to the Liberals — and Ten Network, with $75,000 for each, were major donors.
The Greens also picked up $30,000 from the AMWU and the CFMEU, but their donations were dominated by $1.6 million from Graeme Wood.
*Tomorrow: exploring the data — who gave what to whom?