Australia’s richest and most dominant political division, the
Queensland Labor Party, has pocketed another $500,000 from deal-hungry
business types at last night’s $250-a-head dinner to celebrate Peter
Beattie’s 10 years as Labor leader.

Beattie is a former unionist and state secretary of the Queensland ALP
who, despite some recent stumbles, has become a political phenomenon,
helping Queensland Labor to build
up a war chest like no other.

Mark Ludlow, The AFR reporter who last year broke the story
about the $100 million-plus stash parked in Labor Holdings, did well
again this morning revealing some of the 1200 names who fronted up to
pay homage to St Peter at the Brisbane Convention Centre last night.

Property developers, infrastructure wannabes and promoters of
private-public partnerships such as Devine, Sunland, Trinity Consolidated, Leighton, Babcock & Brown,
Macquarie Bank, Transurban, Linfox and Raptis all took tables of ten, or
sent their representatives, and were able to mingle with political figures including Bob Carr, Morris Iemma and Gough Whitlam.

With these sorts of fundraisers, Queensland Labor doesn’t need to dip
into its estimated $150 million investment pile housed in Labor Holdings, let alone spend some
of the investment returns in a non-election year.

During the last Queensland state election, an outfit called Labor
Resources gave $4.9 million to the Queensland branch of the ALP, but in
the same disclosure period
Labor Holdings recorded
$10.1 million in transactions but said that none of this was
political donations.

This raises the question of whether Labor in Queensland is so cashed up and dominant that it can fight elections
without touching its mounting war chest. The contrast with the South
Australian Liberal Party, which is arguably the most financially
straitened of all major political divisions in Australia, is stark
indeed.

The biggest donors to Labor in 2003-04, the period covering the last state election campaign, were as follows:

Labor Resources Pty Ltd – $4,935,000
The
Brisbane’s Future Committee – $153,735
Collingwood Park Developments –
$75,000
Hatia Property Developments – $70,000
Multiplex Developments (QLD)
Pty Ltd – $70,000
Yu Feng Pty Ltd – $69,300
Crosby Road
Developments – $56,100
Alan Brendon Corporation Pty Ltd – $55,000
Meriton
Apartments Pty Ltd – $50,000
Warner Village Theme Parks – $50,000
Australand Holdings – $45,000

As you can see, it often comes down to property development in the
Sunshine State. Don’t expect Paul Keating’s call for property
developers to be banned from making donations to get up in Queensland
any time soon. It’s just too lucrative.

However, with the strongest budget and balance sheet in the land and
fully funded super, Queensland doesn’t need to go down the path of
getting ripped off on tollroads and other PPPs which are so popular
with the corporate access seekers swarming over the Queensland Labor
machine last night.

Peter Fray

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