One name that seemed a little out of place in the Howard Government’s first division gong recipients – these 135 people who’ve received the Companion or the Order of Australia since March 1996 – was a certain Nick Paspaley.

values the Paspaley family at about $400 million and Big Nick scored
his AC on Australia Day 1999 “for service to business development and
trade, to the Australian pearling industry and to the community”.

A quick search of the AEC donation returns for Paspaley Pearls produced the following:

1998-99: $50,000 to the Liberals and nothing to Labor
1999-00: $10,000 to Liberals and nothing for Labor
2000-01: $85,000 to the Coalition and $15,000 for Labor
2001-02: $40,000 to the Coalition and $5,000 for Labor
2002-03: nothing for anyone
2003-04: $50,000 to the Liberals and nothing for Labor
2004-05: $30,000 to the Coalition and $40,000 to Labor

that’s $265,000 to the Coalition and only $60,000 to Labor since 1998 –
one of the most biased donation records of any Rich Lister.

cheque for $50,000 was sent to the Liberals on September 23, 1998,
which would have given reference writers enough time to start
campaigning for Nick to be given the highest honour, ranking alongside
the likes of Nelson Mandela, George Pell and Frank Lowy.

received the AC, Nick suddenly became less generous in 1999-00 when
only $10,000 was handed over but then he was very supportive around the
time of the Tampa election in 2001, giving $125,000 over the following
two years.

Meanwhile, another subscriber has alerted us to the
fine work of Voi Williams who joined the second division with an AO
last week “for service to the arts through the support of cultural
activities, particularly the ‘Organs of the Ballarat Goldfields’
festival, and to the community of Ballarat.” Could this be the same Voi
Williams who is the long-time Treasurer of the Liberal Party in

Keep all these tips coming to [email protected] because surely this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey