It’s not just the Lowy family and other investors who have done extremely well out of Westfield’s global shopping centre march. Westfield is Australia’s biggest corporate political donor, with $435,600 tipped in to Labor and Liberal coffers, a massive increase on the $87,150 declared in 2003/04 — one of the more important to energe from the Australian Electoral Commission’s annual list of political donations, released this morning (link here).

The money trail tells where the power is when it comes to such niceties as zoning and planning permits. The Tories copped $173,450, perhaps reflecting Frank’s philosophical leanings, but the Comrades pocketed $262,150 — all those state governments to keep in line.

The NSW branch received $103,700 of that as well it should, given how extremely helpful the government proved to be in shutting down the Orange Grove shopping centre competition and doing anything else Westfield wanted.

Everything is perhaps not quite so straightforward in Tasmania. Various greenies might allege Labor runs the state as a Gunns benefit, or perhaps that Gunns simply runs the state, but the comrades don’t get paid very well for it. Gunns gave $62,500 to the Liberal Party but only $2,980 to Labor. Don’t they know on which side their logs are rolled?

A bigger mystery is what the federal government was doing donating $10,410 through Medibank Private to Steve Bracks and Peter Costello’s fundraising arms and the Liberal Victorian branch. Well, the Feds tell us that Medibank Private is Canberra’s to do with as it wants, so donations by Medibank are donations by the federal government.

But the biggest mystery for me is what the Australian Hotels Association has been paying and to whom. The AEC’s headline list of donations above $40,000 shows the AHA supporting the Liberal Party to the tune of $49,200, but a visit to the NSW Labor branch figures finds $68,500 donated by the publicans and their pokies.

$68,500? I had no idea you could buy a government so cheaply. It looks like Frank Lowy has been ripped off.

Peter Fray

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