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Feb 1, 2013

AEC donor dump: who paid out for the parties in 11-12

It's poor, inconsistent and late -- but we finally have a glimpse of who donated to political parties in 2011-12. So who did the shooters donate to?


Annual political donation data for 2011-12 has been released by the Australian Electoral Commission, and once again we’re left to go through inconsistent, out-of-date and confusing information provided by the parties and donors, with the AEC doing its best to provide maximum functionality for the information.

Given 2011-12 was a non-election year (other than in Queensland), donors, donations and public funding are naturally down — Labor’s total receipts state and federally were down from $83 million to $49 million, the Liberals from $104 million to $55 million.

Federal Labor has retained its practice of recent years of reporting all receipts over $1000, in line with the legislative model rejected by the Coalition and Steve Fielding in the Senate under Kevin Rudd, and which may yet return to the Senate this year. NSW Labor didn’t bother, sticking resolutely to the threshold for its mainly union-sourced donations. The vast bulk of federal Labor receipts are small “other receipt” contributions, usually for the purchase of seats at party fundraisers.

This leads to the problem of whether such contributions are effective donations or whether they’re for the purchase of some form of product — like access to a minister for lobbying purposes — which means they’re potentially not reportable under Commonwealth law. Many donors remain (understandably) confused about what the requirements are simply under Commonwealth law, let alone under both Commonwealth and applicable state laws. Some companies, like Macquarie Bank, simply avoid the problem by being transparent about everything they give to parties.

In the absence of any broad trends, there are a number of notable facts from the data:

  • Labor was punished by the hospitality industry for its flirtation with poker machine reform, with the Victorian-based Australian Hotels and Hospitality Association giving the federal Liberals $55,000, the federal branch of the Australian Hotels Association giving $250,000 and the SA branch giving the Liberals there nearly $50,000 and Labor a token $5,000. Only Clubs NSW preserved a semblance of balance, giving $50,000 to the federal Liberals and $44,000 to federal Labor. Don’t forget, however, much of ACT Labor’s funding comes from poker machines — the branch received a $300,000 donation from the Canberra Labor Club.
  • Labor and resource companies had something of a rapprochement. After the mining tax-induced flight of donations to the Coalition, Labor recovered somewhat: Santos, as always, gave to both sides, but favoured the Coalition less this year than 2010-11; Chevron gave more in total to Labor than the Coalition; Woodside gave over $100,000 to both sides; overall, though, mining company donations were well down on 2010-11.
  • After sitting out the 2010 election, ANZ is back: it gave $80,000 to Liberal and Labor, while NAB favoured the Liberals by a big margin. International financial giant Visa also gave generously, mainly to Labor, sinking well over $100,000 into federal Labor coffers.
  • The Liberals continued to do well from high-wealth individuals: businessman Russell Aboud gave the Liberals $100,000; Harold Mitchell (who doesn’t yet have a return listed by the AEC) gave them $110,000; mining magnate Mark Creasy gave them $84,000. US defence contractor Raytheon also dropped $38,500 on the Liberals (without a return) while giving a token amount to Labor. The only donor of note for the federal Greens was Lithgow GP Richard Stiles, who gave over $15,000.
  • Before his feuding with the Newman government, Clive Palmer gave around $170,000 to the LNP, and $27,500 to the federal Nationals.
  • Labor continued to do well from Chinese investors, a traditional strength the party has cultivated, particularly in New South Wales — and in spite of trying to ban foreign donations in 2009. However, the days of the big six-figure donations look to be coming to an end. Chau Chak Wing’s Kingold Group gave nearly $50,000 to Labor; he gave Labor $90,000 via another company, Hong Kong Kingson, through the ACT branch, and gave the Nationals over $32,000; Labor also picked up $11,000 from Hong Kong-based Weidong Liu. Huawei also gave $11,000 to Labor and may have donated below the reporting threshold to the Liberals, too, but we don’t know since they too didn’t bother with a return. Optus gave $43,000 to Labor and a total of about $48,000 to the Coalition.
  • Bob Katter gets whatever prize might exist for the most eclectic range of donors. His party scooped up a total of over $1 million in total donations from donors such as the Electrical Trades Union and the CFMEU (Katter supports rolling back what’s now left of the ABCC even further), from a range of shooting organisations such as the Sporting Shooters’ Association, gun manufacturer NIOA, the Firearm Dealers Association and the Queensland Military Rifle Club; James Packer’s $250,000 donation, and a $50,000 donation from John Singleton.

However flawed, the data is an invaluable resource that needs detailed analysis over days and weeks: if you spot something in the returns, send us a tip: boss@crikey.com.au.

CORRECTION: This article has been amended to reflect an error on the AEC site relating to Singtel Optus, and to clarify the sources of the KAP donations.

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29 thoughts on “AEC donor dump: who paid out for the parties in 11-12

  1. Suzanne Blake

    I think anyone giving Labor money will not see a return until 2035 or beyond

  2. Modus Ponens

    Bribery by any other name sounds just like ‘political donations’

  3. Venise Alstergren

    MP: More likely to be tax deductible donations.

  4. Scott

    I’m curious why AusAid gave $110,000 to The Australian Green Party…
    To help set up other Green parties in developing countries? Is this really the best way to spend our Foreign Aid budget?

  5. Metarzan

    The large company that I work for has a very strict policy for not accepting gifts from customers, suppliers etcetera. They do this so to as preempt any possible conflict of interest and to establish best practice in business ethics. When political parties accept donations from the corporate world is gives the strong outward appearance to the public that they are being bought.

  6. Ian

    Two questions for you Scott: –

    1) Where does the agreement specify Green parties?
    2) What % of the Australian aid budget does this $110 000 represent?

  7. Gerry Hatrick, OAP

    geez SB, hope that’s as good as your Kevin Rudd returning predictions!

  8. Suzanne Blake

    @ Mr Hatrick

    The way Labor is imploding at the moment, Humphrey B Bear may be the new leader soon. They are collapsing in front of your eyese, just like NSW Labor did, and everyone with any smarts can see that.

  9. Hamis Hill

    No evidence yet of Cory Bernardi’s foreign fundraising efforts?
    Just as in the Weimar Republic, make the right noises, liberally larded with the threats of “c–nism” and certain industries will throw money at you.
    In 1972 we even got a CIA enabled coup by the same methods.
    Hey, if it works, why change?

  10. Hamis Hill

    The local Liberal candidate is out making the rounds in Moreton, first name Malcolm.
    The wrong Malcolm.
    How far will the Koch cash stretch?
    Is this abundance of foreign election funding for Abbott a reason for a “long” campaign?
    Get the premature-election crew to empty the lockers before the real campaign begins?

  11. Hamis Hill

    Murdoch’s media dominance makes Australia into a perfect political laboratory for the experiments of any interested business entities with deep enough pockets and mercenary motives.
    The isolation of Australia and New Zealand have already seen marketing campaigns initiated here before being applied elswhere in the Anglo-sphere.
    So why not go to the next step of political marketing?
    With Australians as laboratory “Bunnies” and “useful idiots” like SB and others deriding any such possible “conspiracy”?
    Sounds do-able to me.
    Are Australians being “Got at” by the Fake Liberals behind the Abbott Coup?
    Just asking.

  12. Hamis Hill

    Foreign funded Fake Liberals?
    Be afraid, be very afraid!

  13. Hamis Hill

    Sorry, 1975 coup, enabled by the opposition trooping around The States for three years collaring anyone they could find with tales of a “c–mm- ist” takeover in the isolated continent of Australia.
    Liberal history repeating under Bernardi?

  14. Hamis Hill

    And there’s Mudorch all over it again.

  15. Patriot

    The Greens have the distinction of being the recipient of the largest single donation in Australian political history from high-wealth individual, big polluter and private media mogul Graeme Wood.

  16. Hamis Hill

    Putridiotically, there Patriot, we will not officially find out whether Cory has finessed even higher private donations than The Greens have managed until after the election, when any repulsion among voters will be too late to avoid a “stolen” election.
    Now real patriots would be alarmed and alert but fake patriots? Why they have their very own fake Liberals and fake journalism to keep things “quiet” until it’s all over.

  17. Patriot

    Fake journalists keeping things quiet and stealing an election, huh? Stuff like that used to required the attention of passionate people willing to stand on street corners with sandwich boards. That was before the internet allowed anyone anywhere to publish their rant to the entire world.

  18. The_roth

    This article is useful but it would be better investigative reporting if someone could do a dig about what each big donor bought with the money they gave.

    We can stick our head in sands and pretend it isn’t happening but companies don’t pay money for no return. I’d would personally like to know what that the return was.

  19. Hamis Hill

    Next Patriot will be suggesting that there is no such thing as white collar crime, typically accomplished through inside information, fraud and deception.
    If the rant went out to the rest of the Anglo-Sphere that a South-American style coup involving the take over of a major political party by unpunished WWII war criminals, made possible by the concentration and complicity of local media ownership, then might the response not be that the preconditions for falling for such a temptation are well established?
    Those quasi criminals,( betrayers of democracy and the trust of their fellow citizens?) who should a cranial cavity search be performed upon them would reveal an unnatural vacuum, will obviously lack the capacity to comprehend a conspiracy of any sort.
    Incidentally corrupting a “Fraud” squad would be a reasonable tactical move on the part of any “business” oriented political party intent on protecting its criminal white collar clients.
    Fake patriots would not be “useful” but putrid idiots for covering up such criminality would they Patriot?
    Too stupid to be traitors?
    Treachery not part of your vocabulary “Patriot”?

  20. Hamis Hill

    If it is unremarkable and acceptable that conservative Australian politicians denigrate their domestic opponents to foreigners as being “C m ists” then why is it ridiculous to portray those same “conservatives” as unreconstructed “f ists”.
    What a convenient double-standard.
    This supposed “sanctity” of Right wing politicians is as outdated as that supposed sanctity of pervert priests which was cynically invoked to protect them from justice.
    Time to get real about the “connections”.

  21. Patriot

    I have no tolerance for white collar crime whatsoever. It undermines peoples confidence in free enterprise, markets and financial institutions and they end up voting totalitarian/left/socialist parties into power. That’s why it’s so important to pursue Gillard, Wilson and anyone in Thiess who was knowingly involved in the AWU fraud.

  22. Hamis Hill

    And the AWB fraud, you forgot the AWB fraud.
    Oh yes “I forget”; the standard rightard response.

  23. Hamis Hill

    And ironically, right wing Labor gets into trouble for imitating corporate criminals and so the citizen must vote for the conservatives who actually represent right wing “corporate” criminals?
    Now who is financing the independent and minority party alternatives to the above right wing stitch-up from either major party?
    Probably honest, private voters, who have had enough.

  24. Patriot

    Just looking at the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index. If you’re keen to minimise corruption, perhaps look for a white, Caucasian person of European lineage to represent you in Government is probably the best way, Hamis.

  25. Hamis Hill

    Anyone with a longer, more consistent culture of democracy
    in their history would probably avoid the temptation to suppose that corruption was the only way to proceed in society.
    Those who do not have such a history may be excused, but to live in this country probably need to be educated by a course of civics to overcome their shortcomings.
    This is done in The States in response to migration from places with poor civics.
    Of course, in the case of the NSW Liberal faction known as The Uglies for their failure to match democratic standards, their motive in joining The Liberals was to defend themselves from persecution, most of them being unpunished war criminals ratlined in to Australia.
    Many of these might fit your description, Patriot, but their knowledge and practice of democracy would be very slight considering that they came mainly from countries where a certain religion champions the divine right of kings over demoratic traditions.
    The same church undermined democratic traditions in the native Christian Churches of England and Ireland, (where Kings were elected), a sort of softening up, before the arrival of the Normans who benefited from the inevitable divisions.
    The experts called it DIVIDE ET VINCIT.
    Soon to be applied to Abbott’s unstable coalition, unable to withstand the paroxysims which would follow even the smallest reshuffle? Abbott’s razors edge; “Iwant stability, please!!”

  26. Hamis Hill

    Quite corrupt though they match your description Patriot.

  27. Patriot

    No idea what you’re on about, Hamis. Just don’t vote for a corrupt, brown baѕtard. And don’t shake hands with Asian candidates. You don’t know where their fingers have been.

  28. Hamis Hill

    A putrid, idiotic, typical patriot post.
    What are you on about?
    Been reading Mein Kamph again?


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