There are literally dozens of fascinating stories in today’s deluge of political donations figures for the 2006-07 financial year.

Sure, it’s a scandal that the figures are up to 19 months old and John Howard’s reforms mean we don’t see anything less than $10,300 – but the media should be crawling all over the data for days.

You could write a book on it, but here are a few personal favourites:

Did Julian McGauran have to buy his way into the Liberal Party when he defected from the Nats in January 2006? How else to explain his $20,000 donation to the Libs.

We all know that US politics is for millionaires, but the same is happening here: Looksmart founder Evan Thornley donated $232,700 to the Victorian ALP in the year they let him into the upper house.

Graham Richardson obviously came with cheque in hard when he lobbied the Bracks Government on behalf of Walker Corp to get the $400 million Kew Cottages development approved before the state election. Walker’s $100,000 was only behind Perth-based Ferrara Holdings and Evan Thornley’s cash for Victorian Labor’s election year effort in 2006-07.

John Howard’s great mate Dick Honan has clearly forgiven Labor for all those attacks over ethanol and his Manildra companies. Federal Labor scored $150,000, although there was also six figures for the various Liberal divisions.

Iron-ore billionaire Clive Palmer got a dream run on PM on Wednesday with his promised $100 million donation for the WA medical research and he’s also been splashing cash around the political parties with the Federal Liberals getting $100,000.

Foreign company donations are banned in the US, but not here. Federal Labor enjoyed a $200,000 contribution from giant Malaysia developer Mulpha which owns Hayman Island and a suite of five star hotels that need development approvals.

The scandal that was Centenary House continues to pay for Federal Labor as $570,000 in cash came through from “John Curtin House”.

The NSW Labor bagman have shown up their southern rivals. Labor’s two biggest state divisions were both facing an election in 2006-07 and the Vics only generated total receipts of $11.3 million, whilst Sussex Street collected $22.7 million, which was almost as much as the Liberals in NSW and Victoria combined. Once again, it was developers and gaming types who dominated Labor’s Sydney figures.

Dick Pratt once again topped the Federal Liberal figures with $200,000. Will it last after the cartel king-hit and with the Libs out of office everywhere?

Westfield’s Frank Lowy was the most generous billionaire, spending almost $500,000 on donations in 2006-07 as he busily spent loads of taxpayer funds working miracles with Australian soccer.

Will ANZ remain the biggest Liberal bank donor once Charles Goode retires as chairman? Goode sits on various Liberal fundraising boards which chipped in $2.5 million to the Victorian Libs. Corporate donations were thin on the ground for Ted Baillieu’s 2006 campaign, with ANZ topping the lists at $45,000.

Who am I? Perth-based Ferrara Holdings gave Victorian Labor $200,000. 07 Pty Ltd gave Federal Labor $235,783. Independent Outdoor Media gave the Victorian Libs $198,900. It’s owned by a Kelvin Whitford.

The NSW Bruvvas are once again rorting the system as was explained here last year. Rather than just confessing to a truckload of donations, they’ve only come up with 15 of them. But there are 180 “other receipts” and 107 “subscriptions”, something we don’t see in any other division.

I gave the media this spray on Crikey last year for lax coverage of the donations deluge, so let’s hope they do a better job this year.

There’s more from an interview with ABC’s Jon Faine this morning on the Mayne Report.

Peter Fray

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