From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Labor happy to take foreign cash, despite policy. Despite a current policy of banning donations from foreign sources, the ALP last year accepted over $100,000 of donations from foreign companies. Labor’s recently released donation disclosure results show Hong Kong’s Kingson Investments made two donations totalling $40,000 to the party. The firm is owned by Chinese billionaire Chau Chak Wing, a well-connected businessman known for his close connections to politicians on both sides of Parliament.

Labor also received $50,830 in receipts from another Chinese company, Kingold Group, and $18,000 from the Italian Democratic Party, Partito Democratico. We’d have thought Italy had enough problems of its own without worrying about Australia’s …

Labor attempted to ban foreign donations in 2010. The Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Political Donations and Other Measures) Bill 2010 passed the House of Representatives, but has stalled in the Senate. A spokesperson for special minister of State Gary Gray confirmed it remained ALP policy to ban foreign donations. Another key plank of that policy was lowering the indexed reporting threshold (which was $11,900 in the period just gone) to $1000. Labor has honoured this aspect of its policy by reporting to the AEC all donations above $1000, despite not being required to by current laws, yet has still accepted foreign donations.

Crikey contacted Labor national secretary George Wright to ask why the party had accepted the foreign donations; he was not available to comment. If you’ve found any curios in the AEC’s dump of disclosure data, let us know. There’s plenty of interesting material there for the budding citizen journalist — Crikey needs you!

The betrayed pollies club. Senator Trish “Make Me Ambassador” Crossin has been spotted by a parliamentary mole commiserating with a colleague:

“Trish Crossin and Liberal Senator Gary Humphries spotted chatting outside the Senate. Perhaps they were discussing setting up a support club for pollies knifed by their parties. Crossin recently lost preselection following the PM’s captain’s pick of Nova Peris for Labor’s NT Senate ticket. Meanwhile, Humphries is facing a challenge from ACT opposition leader Zed Seselja.”

Fin v the scientists. Mark Lawson, who writes leaders and covers the clean energy sector for The Australian Financial Review, is taking on the scientific experts who question his articles about how sea levels are not rising in any significant way, oh and human-induced climate change is no big deal. The war in the comments section of this story on The Conversation started two weeks ago and continues. Check out the comments and see who you believe …

Pssst, want some steroids? Which pharmaceutical company allegedly employs a drug dealer as a sales rep? Apparently they were sacked from a previous job for dealing steroids under the table. We hear this company should do a few more background checks …

Super slow. We heard from a Crikey reader annoyed that ANZ’s onepath website, which is supposed to allow investors to check their super balances, had been offline for a fortnight. Was it due to hackers, they asked? No, ANZ told us: seems a technical fault led to “some technical difficulties” in resetting passwords. A spokeswoman told us the service had been restored and apologised for the boo-boo.

*Heard anything that might interest Crikey? Send your tips to [email protected] or use our guaranteed anonymous form.

Peter Fray

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