Feb 1, 2013

Miners, developers pile in to fund Newman’s LNP campaign

Big political donors ditched Anna Bligh's failing government and put their money behind Campbell Newman's bid for the Queensland premiership, data from the AEC reveals.

Andrew Crook — Former <em>Crikey</em> Senior Journalist

Andrew Crook

Former Crikey Senior Journalist

Corporate donors -- dominated by resources giants -- piled huge amounts of cash into the coffers of the Queensland Liberal-National Party in the lead-up to last year's state election, official Australian Electoral Commission data released this morning reveals. With the writing on the wall for Anna Bligh, major corporates were desperate to hitch their largesse to "Can Do" Campbell Newman's bandwagon, tipping $1.8 million into the LNP's accounts. The party sucked in a grand total -- including public funding -- of $17,612,936, dwarfing Queensland Labor's $11,665,295. The Queensland election, on March 24 last year, was held just 13 weeks before the end of the audit period, which stretched across the 2011-12 financial year. Newman's total take was nearly $3 million more than the previous non-election financial year, when the LNP could only manage $15 million and Labor $8 million. In 2010-11, corporate donations to the LNP totalled $1.2 million, $616,000 of which was sourced from mining tsar Clive Palmer through his companies Mineralogy and Queensland Nickel. Palmer, despite being banned by the party three years ago, was back on the LNP balance sheet this year in a more modest fashion, with contributions of $176,700 and a further $27,500 to the federal Nationals. But recent re-estrangement with the party hierarchy over preselections may have called a halt to any further cash splashes (we won't find out for another 12 months). Prominent developer Harry Trigaboff's apartment conglomerate Meriton stumped up $50,000, while Nathan Tinkler-associated Boardwalk Resources donated $22,500 to the pineapple state conservatives. Underground coal gasification specialists Linc Energy donated $99,999 -- a striking amount given the Queensland government was at the time wrangling over approvals and endorsments for the controversial technology. Frackers Beach Energy, with coal seam gas activists in its and the government's ear, gifted $55,000. Geologists Energy Minerals flicked $95,000 to the LNP. Village Roadshow, which owns the Gold Coast theme parks Movie World, Sea World, Wet’n’Wild and the Australian Outback Spectacular, donated $75,000 as part of a big $260,000 total national spend. Further receipts, including $83,000 from ticketing upstarts Trybooking, were listed under the AEC's mysterious "other" classification, meaning the cash could have related to almost anything. But by far the biggest donor was Newman's fundraising entity Forward Brisbane Leadership, which donated $555,175 before it was wound up late last year over controversial contributions from developers. And Brescia Investments, the investment vehicle for developer Silvio Pradella that has links to former Howard government minister Santo Santoro and stood-aside public servant Michael Caltabiano, was good for $22,000. A loan of $471,305 was received from LNP headquarters and Redcliffe MP Scott Driscoll, a retail industry WorkChoices warrior before entering state parliament last year, was good for the biggest individual donation of $55,000. State Labor, by contrast, generated a pitiful 20 corporate and individual donations for a total of just $179,199 -- about 10% of the LNP's corporate stash. It was again forced to rely on the affiliation fees and donations of big unions, including the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees' Association and the Australian Workers Union, and public funding from the Queensland Electoral Commission, to take total receipts to $11.7 million. Traditional bankroller Labor Holdings was missing in action, despite declaring income of $4,840,767 as an associated entity. It holds debts of $11,858,123, according to its related-party return. (In previous years the Ian Brusasco-4KQ sell-off vehicle has donated tens of millions to both the Queensland and federal Labor parties, including the bankrolling of a quarter of funds for the 2007 Ruddslide). The 2011-12 totals mean the public only finds out about donations made in July 2011 -- 18 months later. And under federal disclosure law, parties are only required to declare all donations north of $11,900. While federal Labor took the high road, declaring all donations above $1000, the Queensland branch (and the LNP) disappointingly stuck to the letter of the law.

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11 thoughts on “Miners, developers pile in to fund Newman’s LNP campaign

  1. K.D. Afford

    Watch the same thing happening with the Federal elections, what with Climate Change sceptical Liberal Party scrapping the Carbon Tax and the Mining Tax that should be worth buckets of money for that party! What a pity that they want exponential growth, cranes over every city, world with out care as the fall into the laps of Clive, Gina, and Twiggy like puppy dogs, not caring a fig about the future of our children.
    Already Lord Monckton is out here to tell us the Climate Change …”scare is over….” to help deny the catastrophe that will befall us. Never mind that 97% of world Climate Scientists say otherwise to Monckton, never mind that we are world leaders in having a Carbon Tax, and never mind that 80% of the mining wealth goes overseas and we see very little of it – but the Liberal Party will!

  2. Paddy Forsayeth

    You said it K.D. – world without care. I do not believe the general populace will politically support any substantial shift in the way we do business. Given our size Australians will be mere spectators as the world’s climate problems spiral out of control. I am firmly of the opinion that it is already too late and the climate debate is irrelevant.

  3. Ian

    These donations are destroying our democracy. It’s corruption pure and simple.

  4. Electric Lardyland

    Some good points made there, folks. But I’d just like to add a couple of things, climate change wise. I think that you’re being a little bit too kind, referring to the Liberals as climate skeptics. Personally, I think that they’re largely a party of climate change denial, but that they don’t have the political courage to adopt denial as official policy. Instead, they just trot out the figleaf of ‘direct action’; whatever that’s supposed to be.
    Also, while I do think that we’ve already launched a few dangerous climate feedback loops, especially in the Arctic, and that we’ve already locked in some further climate change; I personally don’t think that it is too late. This is because the natural climate forcers, like variations in the earth’s orbit, axis fluctuations, etc, all say that we should be in a cooling phase. This, slightly paradoxically , means two main things. Firstly, the variation from this long term cooling trend, means that we’ve probably warmed the planet more than the raw data suggests. Secondly, since we’re likely to be in, what should be a natural cooling phase for a while longer, we have a bit better chance of stabilising the climate, than is first apparent.

  5. Ian


    I haven’t researched this fully but GHG induced global warming is now proceeding at a rapid pace while variations in the earth’s orbit and axis fluctuations take place over tens of thousands of years or more. They certainly won’t be enough to ameliorate the GHG effect within a reasonable time scale.

  6. Bill Shaw

    The pity is the Mining Tax may be repealed before it produces revenue of any significance. That’s because big business will avoid showing big profits by reinvesting in yet more mines. And with the Carbon Tax what a shame if that goes. Whatever the state of the climate change debate we have to move from the finite fossil fuels and the sooner the better.

  7. Electric Lardyland

    Yes, Ian, it is possible that I’m clutching at straws a bit. I mean, I do think that we have already locked in some ugly climate change. But what I think that I was trying to get across, is,that we’re currently in a Milankovitch cycle, where the trend should be for a cooling planet. So, if we were able to stabilise, then reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, it is possible that we can stabilise the climate. As opposed to considering the icecap melt, the thawing permafrost, the warming oceans, the offshore methane releases, etc, and concluding that we’ve already locked in permanent, runaway climate change.
    If you’re interested, the best explanation of these long term climate cycles, that I’ve read, is in the book, Plows, Plagues and Petroleum, by William Ruddiman.

    Of course, this doesn’t mean that I think we should be complacent about climate change. I do feel that the situation is urgent and desperate. And I do think, that we should all do our best to cut our own emissions, we should give climate change deniers a very hard time, and most importantly, we shouldn’t elect governments that are riddled with climate change deniers and who are massively funded by fossil fuel producers.
    Whoops, I’m just starting get into long discourse mode; I better leave it there.

  8. Ian

    Hi Electric,

    Thanks for the link. I have a backlog of books to read so I probably will give Ruddiman’s one a miss but I did Google him and can see what he is on about although his hypothesis is controversial. I do think it is irrelevant in the context of the current warming crisis though.

    Still it’s important to keep hoping and not give in to total despair even if there remains a huge gap between that hope and expectations.

    I agree with your comment that “we should give climate change deniers a very hard time, and most importantly, we shouldn’t elect governments that are riddled with climate change deniers and who are massively funded by fossil fuel producers” but would go further and say we should elect representatives who will go all out to address climate change. It seems to me that the Libs actively side with the FFI (fossil fuel industry) while Labor is just too frightened to challenge them in any meaningful way. Neither will represent anything but the status qou and we know where that will lead. If it were not for the Greens and independents we would not even have the pathetic climate change legislation we have now.

  9. blackdog

    this is the sort of thing that definitely undermines democracy, somthing needs to be done about this, and also any donations should be publicised not just over $11,900. As the voters, we should know who is sponsoring our “leaders”…who in all reality are really just puppets of these corporations/individuals. I’m unfortunately more negative – I think the planet is done for and it is only a matter of time – and that is simply because there seems no method for keeping those with personal, financial interests at bay for the greater good and for the longevity and health of the planet..they can just play their games, use the legal system (like they did with Mabo and Native Title), use neoliberal/capitalist ideology…and not only keep exploiting all our natural resources but it seems they are stepping up their attempts to rape the planet amd future generations…

  10. MJPC

    K.D and Ian, you have said it all. I wonder what the Insurance companies think about climate change; 2 x 100 year floods in Queensland in 2 years (are they now 1 in 50 year floods?) and $20,000 insurance premiums in flood prone areas if the news reports are to be believed.
    LNP, the best political party money can buy (a good but also in NSW, just ask one J Packer).

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