Political donations data released by the Australian Electoral Commission yesterday shows a multi-million dollar cash increase for parties in the two states that held elections over the audit period.

The South Australian and Tasmanian polls were both held on March 20 2010, just thirteen weeks before the end of the financial year covered by yesterday’s disclosures.

Tasmanian Labor sucked in $2,133,649 in total receipts in 2009-10, compared to just $719,642 in 2008-09 (during the last election year encompassing the 2006 election, the amount was $1,305,986). By contrast, the Tasmanian Liberal Party tapped contributors for $1,889,261 — a massive jump of $1.2 million on 2008-09’s total of $673,924 (during the last election cycle the party snagged a more modest $962,272).

In South Australia, Labor declared total receipts of $4,294,412, compared with $2,273,648 in 2008-09. The SA Liberals, who have apparently sworn off political donations in future years, raked in $3,816,477, compared to $2,270,554 for the 12 months previous.

Individual highlights in Tasmania included Kathmandu millionaire Jan Cameron — rumoured until now to be a staunch Greens supporter — tipping in $45,000 to help Labor beat off their eco-tinged opponents. And local property developer Emmanuel Kalis, who owns the site of the former Hobart Myer store (which burnt down) and wants to build a new shopping complex donated $20,000 (and $25,00 to the Liberals). Betfair gave $11,220 to the ALP as a preemptive thanks for halving its tax rate. The bruvvas also snagged $5000 from Macquarie Telecom, which is helping to roll out the NBN.

Federal Hotels, which has a monopoly on Tassie’s poker machines for about the next millennium had two bob each way with $30,000 shunted to the two parties. The Greens, who snared the balance of power at the March poll, also saw a jump in receipts — up from up from $458,151 in 2008-09 to $737,739.

Conservative donations were dominated by Queensland mining baron Clive Palmer, who spread $100,000 of his coordinated $1.028 million national conservative donation to the Tasmanian branch of the Libs.

In South Australia, property developers featured prominently, with DayCorp forwarding $20,000 to Labor and Land SA giving $80,000 to the Liberals. However, the most interesting donation was Coopers Brewery’s donation of $16,500 to help the Tories, despite marketing itself heavily as the beer of choice for Greens flag wavers in inner Melbourne and Sydney.

The black hole that is the SA branch of Labor’s fundraising arm Progressive Business run by aggressive bag man Nick Bolkus (who was famously caught out failing to declare donations from Filipino businessman Dante Tan in 2003) reported a $889,705 donation with no way of knowing who chipped in.

Elsewhere among the states, there was tranche of donors in New South Wales and Queensland that reported smaller donations to their state electoral bodies under stricter rules, but not to the AEC.

While the Queensland ALP took the high road and volunteered donor and dinner transactions under $11,200, the state’s Liberal National Party declined to do the same, only listing receipts over the threshold. Analysis of the more recent Queensland state data not only reveals that Clive Palmer recently made an additional $500,000 donation to the LNP through Queensland Nickel, but that the party received hundreds of thousands of dollars from individual donors and dinner guests that didn’t make the federal database.

One such donation that appeared in the state but not the federal disclosure documents was a $100,000 received by the LNP from Tritton Resources on June 7, 2010. The firm owns a massive copper mine in Nyngan which was acquired by Straits Resources in 2006. As Crikey reported yesterday, Straits stumped up $400,000 to the WA branch of the Liberal Party and $100,000 to the federal Liberals, taking its total largesse to a massive Palmer-esque $600,000.

Correction: a previous version of this story stated that the Tasmanian ALP had received $33,000 from Integral Communications in 2009-10. This is incorrect. Integral was, in fact, a Labor creditor.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey