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As the West goes to the polls, Crikey takes a look at who is bankrolling the various parties.

Money and politics are always closely linked – and nowhere more so than in the West. There are a whole heap of special interests – like the mining companies – who want to make sure the favour bank is kept well stocked.

Western Mining have been big supporters of the local Libs – kicking in donations of around the $75,000 mark. With the shake up of the industry – like the Shell bid for Woodside – it will be fascinating to see where this sector distributes its largesse.

But they’re not the only donors. Parties are required to disclose details of their donations to the Australian Electoral Commission, and the AEC very kindly puts these up on the web. There’s still a lot of dodgy stuff that goes on – the Libs rort the rules through the Free Enterprise and Greenfield Foundations that create barriers between donors and the party – and, of course, it’s easy to launder Labor donations through a union.

Here are the 1998-99 details of the donations to the major parties and a few ratbag outfits taken from the AEC web site, where you can find the full sordid details at http://search.aec.dev.edime.com.au/fandd_returns/.

Real estate developers Furama are the biggest donors, handed out a whopping $147,000 to the Liberal Party. Construction giant Multiplex spread their favours, handing out big bucks to Labor, the Liberals and the Nats. Strangely, the lads down at the millionaires factory, Macquarie Bank, gave $11,000 to the ALP and nothing to the Coalition.

The gun nuts at the Sporting Shooters Association managed to come up with 43 grand for One Nation in WA alone – how cashed up must they be? Graeme Campbell – the former Labor Member for Kalgoorlie who lost the race for the rednecks to Pauline – and his Australia First outfit didn’t even get any donations above the declarable limit.

There are a couple of amusing details to note – Janet Holmes a Court is happy to give to the Dems, Labor and even the Nats, but draws the line at the Libs. Gina Rinehart more than fills the gap. Bet Liberal State Director Peter Wells wishes she’d had more legal luck against Rose.

Finally, remember that these are 1998-99 figures. The returns for last financial year don’t have to be in until next month. Funny that. You’d think that a Government that makes mum and dad operations complete a quarterly Business Activity Statement might be a little more responsive.

Peter Fray

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