By Stephen Mayne

The political donations analysis continues apace and we should point out the excellent site created by the Greens, www.democracy4sale.org, which tracks donations over the past few years. Meanwhile, here are a few more vignettes:

Did the Packers really give $5516 to the Greens?

The Daily Telegraph’s main donations story
on Thursday concluded with the line: “The Greens received $5516 from
the Howard mortgage Trust, which is ultimately owned by the Packer
Family.”

Sadly, the implication of this is grossly distorted.
Firstly, the Packers don’t own the Howard Mortgage Trust, it is owned
by its unit holders. Sure, the $3 billion trust pays about $30 million
a year to its manager, Challenger Financial Services, but even this
business is only 25% owned by the Packers.

Secondly, the trust
didn’t make any sort of a donation to the Greens, which just happened
to have some spare cash deposited there. This just demonstrates how
cumbersome the disclosure regime is. A political party should not have
to disclose earnings on its own assets, in the same context as cash
donations because they are entirely different. Sure, we should be shown
balance sheets of political parties and maybe even details of their
assets, but breaking down the interest on every last cash management
account is over the top.

Challenger was even moved to make an ASX statement on the blunder, which is described as “incorrect and highly misleading”.

What about the $1.1m-plus for the CEC?

A
lot is being made of the British Lord’s $1 million donation to the
Liberals but what about a certain Henry Gillham from Clendon in
Queensland who has given more than $1.1 million to the loopy lot at the
Citizens Electoral Councils since 1998. Given that Henry is presumably
an Australian citizen and is unlikely to enjoy tax haven benefits, this
is surely one of the most significant donations to a political party –
and one that operates at the very fringes of reason. Here’s a summary
of what Henry’s given over the past seven years:

1998-99: $24,750
1999-00: $45,285
2000-01: $37,500
2001-02: $37,000
2002-03: $53,100
2003-04: $862,000
2004-05: $57,250
Total: $1,116,885
Average: $159,555

Who’s this Chinaman?

The
Labor Party is right to call for a ban on donations from foreign
nationals, as it not just the British Lord who’s been showering the
Liberals with largesse. The NSW Liberals received a tasty $49,981 from
a company called Kingson Investments, which lists its address as:

Guangzhou International Trade Centre
1 1 Linhe Xi Lu
Guangzhou
Peoples Republic of China
OS 0000

Gee,
a big donation from someone in a Communist country at a time when our
trade is burgeoning and there’s talk of free trade agreement down the
track. Surely they are big enough at least arrange an Australian PO Box.

Peter Fray

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