Crikey editor Misha Ketchell writes:

This morning, as we’re all trying to sort
through the scandalously late disclosure of political donations for the
2004/2005 financial year, Daily Tele editor Dave Penberthy has a reason
to feel chuffed.

The paper’s yarn
this morning about the political donations we’ll never hear about is a
great example of getting a jump on the pack, and it highlights just
how easy it to get around the system and channel money to political
parties without anyone ever knowing.

Rolling in quiet cash

By DAVID FISHER

February 01, 2006

MILLIONS of dollars are quietly flowing into the NSW Labor Party
through fundraising activities which conceal the identities of many key
donors.

Despite vowing to end the practice of taking small donations – which
are not covered by electoral disclosure laws – the practice is
continuing.

Several western Sydney MPs – including Joe Tripodi, Paul Gibson, Sandra
Nori and Premier Morris Iemma – have led the way, raising hundreds of
thousands of dollars through fundraisers.

While the names of ordinary donors or their companies are recorded on a
State Electoral Commission website, the names of those who contributed
to fundraisers are not posted.

The only way the public can access that information is to visit the
State Electoral Commission and physically inspect MPs’ donation files.

The ALP raised about $9.8 million before the last election, including
about $2.9 million from fundraisers. The Liberal Party, by comparison,
raised about $4.5 million but only $28,269 from fundraising.

Blacktown Labor MP Paul Gibson raised $187,301 in the three years
leading up to the 2003 election but the system of fundraising has
allowed virtually all contributors to remain anonymous.

Mr Gibson, in the latest available documents, reported a $7000 donation
from the Australian Hotels Association, $5000 from the national Union
of Workers and $1000 from the Fair Go Alliance.

The Blacktown MP doesn’t hide the fact he is a friend of the hotels and
the AHA is known to have a role in organising his fundraisers.

But there is no record of who contributed to the $174,301.06 he raised
through four luncheons leading up to the last election because it was
done through fundraisers.

For other MPs, such as key numbers man and Roads Minister Joe Tripodi, the contributions are more transparent.

Mr Tripodi raised $111,276 before the last election, including $98,905 raised through fundraisers.

The fundraising contributions to Mr Tripodi came largely from dozens of
property and construction companies, including $10,700 from Remo
Constructions, $9000 from Stateland developments and $7000 from Brenex
P/L.

Peter Fray

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