The 2013-14 political donations data confirms a long trend in Australian politics, with the ALP still fundamentally reliant on the union movement and the Liberal Party in the thrall of big business, rent-seekers and a few wealthy families.
It shouldn’t take until almost halfway through Tony Abbott’s first term in office to be told who funded the campaign that dislodged Kevin Rudd, but the figures were only released by the Australian Electoral Commission at 9am today.
There are dozens of interesting stories in the deluge of data, but perhaps of most interest is the breakdown of donors to the federal Liberals in 2013-14. The election was held on September 14, 2013, and most major donations tend to happen in the weeks leading up to polling day.
Under Australia’s anything goes system of campaign finance, there are no legal restrictions on who can give money to federally registered parties. Ivan Milat, Sir Prince Philip, Vladimir Putin, the Hells Angels … no problems, step right up.
Even businesses that are directly licensed or funded by Canberra have an unfettered right to provide unlimited amounts of cash.
And that’s what you see across the 10 pages of donors disclosed by the federal Liberals who gave more than $12,400. This is hardly comprehensive, but here’s a summary of those who contributed more than $50,000 to the Abbott campaign to unseat Kevin Rudd:
Adani Mining, $49,500: Indian conglomerate developing the giant Galilee coal fields in Queensland.
Ross Adler, $50,000: former CEO of Santos, whom Libs appointed to the Telstra board. Made plenty as chair of Dominos Pizza.
ANZ Bank, $150,000: easily Australia’s largest financier of carbon-intensive energy sector and most politically generous of the big four banks. Now chaired by David Gonski.
Lord Michael Ashcroft, $250,000: controversial British business and conservative political figure who gave Libs a record $1 million donation back in John Howard’s day.
Australian Salary Packaging Industry Association, $250,000: responded generously when Liberals promised to overturn Kevin Rudd’s clampdown on tax breaks for packaged salaries. McMillan Shakespeare is the largest industry player.
ASX Ltd, $110,000: gave the same to both sides and was clearly relieved when Bill Shorten was persuaded not to introduce competition into its monopoly-clearing business.
Balmoral Pastoral, $400,000: As Bernard Keane reported, this outfit also gave $200,000 to the federal Libs in 2012-13. Is owned by billionaire Bob Oatley, who made his fortune selling Rosemount to Southcorp for $1.5 billion and now focuses on Hamilton Island and winning Sydney-to-Hobart races.
Joseph Brender, $100,000: wealthy businessman who made his fortune in textiles and retail and lives near Malcolm Turnbull in Point Piper.
Brickworks, $150,000: controlled by Rich Lister Robert Millner, who oversees a conglomerate of intertwined listed companies, which have now given more than $2 million of shareholder funds to the Liberals and very little to Labor. Was mentioned in dispatches at the Independent Commission Against Corruption after working with Peta Credlin to fight the carbon tax.
Century Plaza, $220,000: the private company of retail billionaire Solomon Lew, who has lobbied hard for a higher GST on online purchases.
Chevron Australia, $47,300: one of the 10 biggest global oil super-majors with major investments off Western Australia.
Clubs Australia, $180,000: not-for-profit pokies lobby, which was relieved when Liberals helped fight off the Gillard-Wilkie pokies pledge on mandatory pre-commitment.
Coca-Cola Amatil, $55,000: controlled by Atlanta, chaired by David Gonski and a long-time litigant and lobbyist against container deposit schemes globally.
Coles Group, $55,000: part of Wesfarmers and Australia’s grocery duopoly along with Woolworths. Exposed to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and political intervention due to enormous market power over suppliers.
Coogee Chemicals, $50,000: manufacturer exposed to carbon tax. Controlled by Rich Lister Gordon Martin, the inaugural president of the Australian Institute of Company Directors’ Western Australian chapter and former chancellor of Curtin University in Perth.
CST Mining Group, $50,000: Hong Kong-based miner, which owns the Lady Annie copper mine in Queensland.
Dow Chemical, $55,000: US-based chemical giant. Exposed to carbon tax.
Peter Edwards, $100,000: the most politically generous member of the Smorgon family.
Jon Fogarty, $100,000: former WA footballer who made the media with some controversies over contracts running public hospitals.
Sir Michael Hintze, $75,000: made his fortune running hedge fund CQS.
Hong Kong Kingson Investment: $500,000: prolific donor which gave a range of parties a total of $761,000 as far back as 2007-08, as The Australian reported at the time. Also gave federal ALP $600,000 last year through its associated Kingold division.
Jiebo Huang, $200,000: lists a Mosman address, little known publically.
IPGL Ltd, $50,000: London firm controlled by former Tory treasurer Michael Spencer.
Jefferson Investments, $55,000: Sydney-based outfit, which has given more than $250,000 over the years, including some to ALP.
Linc Energy, $100,000: another of the Queensland-based gas outfits that has so outraged Alan Jones for their alleged capture of the LNP ahead of its traditional agricultural constituency.
Lion Ltd, $55,000: dairy and beer giant now controlled by Japanese firm Kirin, which has Sir Rod Eddington on the board. Contribution probably involved free beer at fund raisers.
Manildra Group, $124,000: continues Rich Lister Dick Honan’s long practice of seeking regulatory support for products such as ethanol through donations.
Paul Marks, $750,000: based in Waterfront Place in the Brisbane CBD and fronts Nimrod Resources, which has mining aspirations near Bourke in outback NSW.
Harold Mitchell, $100,000: advertising heavyweight and Rich Lister who tends to support both sides.
Alf Moufarrige, $40,000: Rich Lister who controls global serviced office firm Servcorp and has donated more than $500,000 to the Liberals over the years.
New Hope Coal, $250,000: controlled by Millner family through Soul Pattinson and Brickworks structure. Made famous by Alan Jones over controversial Acland project on the Darling Downs.
Parakeelia Pty Ltd, $411,276: software company serving the Liberals, which incensed David Marr back in 2007, given Ron Walker connection.
Peabody Energy, $50,000: world’s biggest coal miner, based in the US with big interests in NSW and Queensland.
Philip Morris, $45,000: US tobacco giant now banned from giving to the Liberals in a move that Tony Abbott’s successor is not obliged to maintain.
Punusi Pty Ltd, $100,000: a previous player in the NSW agriculture and development space but current interests unclear.
SixMileBridge Pty Ltd, $50,000: business operating out of Double Bay in Sydney.
Sonic Healthcare, $200,000: listed healthcare player very dependent on ongoing federal funding.
Gandel Group, $150,000: Melbourne billionaire John Gandel, who has huge property interests like Chadstone in Melbourne and is one of the five richest property moguls in Australia.
Sean Tomlinson, $100,000: Gold Coast entrepreneur who made it onto Young Rich List through iPad point-of-sale business Revel Systems.
Village Roadshow, $200,000: Graham Burke and the Kirby family have been long-time Liberal supporters, with overall donations now approaching $3 million.
Walker Group, $100,000: billionaire Sydney property developer Lang Walker has used Graham Richardson for lobbying but favoured the Liberals more over the years.
Westfield, $150,000: the Lowy family have directed more than $10 million to politicians and parties globally over the years.
Woodside Energy, $129,500: the biggest ASX listed player in the oil and gas space, now breaking free from Shell.
Zafcan Pty Ltd, $100,000: Melbourne registered firm at 1 Spring Street, which donates a similar amount to the Liberals most years.
Zip Heaters, $100,000: appliance and tap manufacturer controlled by wealthy 82-year-old Sydney businessman Michael Crouch.
*Correction: An earlier version of this story mistakenly said Robert Millner’s companies had donated $2 billion to the Liberal Party. The correct figure is $2 million.