The US has a creditable system of
political funding which bans companies from donating and also limits
what can come in from offshore. There are absolutely no limits in
Australia, which is why British billionaire Michael Ashcroft was able
to give the Federal Liberal Party $1 million in 2004-05, as The Australianreported this morning in a pre-emptive leak before today’s avalanche of figures.

Companies are the biggest overall donors in Australia – but some fascinating individual names also pop up:

Dame Elisabeth Murdoch:
Rupert’s mum gave $25,000 to the Federal Libs, probably because her
son-in-law John Calvert-Jones replaced Malcolm Turnbull as Federal
Treasurer of the Liberal Party before the last election. The Murdoch
empire doesn’t give much, although the Queensland suburban Quest
Newspapers gave the Queensland Liberals $15,016.

Rob Gerard: Still the mainstay of the South Australian Libs with $150,000 – although there might not be too many more to come.

Dick Smith: A surprising $20,000 for Federal Labor, but nothing for the Federal Libs.

Harold Mitchell: Federal Labor’s media buyer in the 2004
campaign gave $25,000 to the Victorian ALP, which has appointed him to
a couple of arts boards.

Nabi Saleh: The Hillsong director and Gloria Jean’s Coffee co-owner gave $23,500 to the NSW Liberals.

John Winston Howard: The PM wrote out a cheque for $6,000 for the NSW Liberals.

Tony Clark: John Howard’s former spy on the Telstra board gave the NSW Liberals $10,000.

Ross Adler:
The man who used to help bankroll the Liberals through Santos has since
retired, but has continued the trend personally with a $50,000 donation
(which might be a belated thank you for that spot on the Telstra board).

Ian McLachlan: The former Defence Minister gave the Federal Libs $10,000.

Fairfax family:
Tim and John B pop up a few times in the Liberal columns for a total of
almost $50,000, but their company Rural Press doesn’t donate, despite
what is regarded as its strongly conservative editorial line.

Ian Smith: Natasha’s husband and the CEO of Gavin Anderson gave $5,000 to the Libs – plus his firm gave plenty of contra value.

Eddie Groves:
The boss of ABC Learning tried to keep it low-key by slipping $10,000
to the Queensland Liberals, even though it’s the Federal Government
that gives his company $1 million a day.

Kerry Stokes: Vowed never to give political donations a couple of AGMs back, but his Westrac outfit handed over $10,000 to the WA Libs.

Warwick Smith:
The former Sports minister turned Macquarie Banker gave the Tasmanian
Libs $9,900, putting him in the top ten but well behind lead donor
Gunns which handed over $50,000

John Ralph: John Howard’s old mate and the former Telstra deputy chairman shipped his $3,000 from Toorak to the NSW Liberals.

Duncan Kerr: the $12,000 for the Tasmanian ALP didn’t quite make
up for the absence of Gunns which gave absolutely nothing. We think
this is the largest donations from an individual politician.

Evan Thornley: the aspiring Labor MP gave the Victorian ALP $35,000 through Looksmart and Pluto Press.