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Jan 31, 2017

Mayne: what to expect in tomorrow’s political donations dump

Tomorrow we find out a year's worth of political donations data. So what will the big stories be?

Stephen Mayne — Journalist and Founder

Stephen Mayne

Journalist and Founder

At 9am tomorrow, the Australian Electoral Commission will do its belated annual data dump on all the political donations figures from 2015-16.

It is never easy to predict which revelations will attract media interest but the obvious one tomorrow is the scale of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s donations to the Liberal Party. It will be at least $1 million, but it could be much more.

However, if Turnbull delayed some of his contributions until after June 30, we won’t know the full story until this time next year, which really is ridiculous.

Bill Shorten’s banking royal commission push will probably see the Liberals enjoy more bank largesse although prudent risk management should see some sharing of the love.

NAB, led by new chairman Ken Henry, imposed a ban on donations to head off a shareholder resolution from the Australasia Centre for Corporate Responsibility at last December’s annual general meeting. However, the data is so old we will probably see some 2015-16 NAB donations disclosed tomorrow.

UK-listed companies must seek shareholder approval for any political expenditure, a reform that has resulted in contributions crashing in recent years. Australia ought to do the same with its listed companies.

Donations stories get a mixed run in the media so today Crikey presents 40 links to documents and articles on the topic so everyone can prepare.

Let’s start with 20 links to stories that emerged during last year’s data dump:

Comedian Charlie Pickering lampoons our woeful system on The Weekly

Lenore Taylor in The Guardian on the need for campaign finance reform

The Guardian’s overall wrap of the figures

Long but incomplete ABC list of all donations

Bernard Keane’s wrap on how Tony Abbott scared away donors

Fairfax’s Adam Gartrell comes up with complete overall numbers 

Mike Seccombe feature on dodgy finance in The Saturday Paper 

CFMEU mis-allocates $847,000 property sale to a fleet purchase

After downplaying the story for years, The World Today leads with donations data

Peter Lloyd on PM program exposes parties and donors in the bunker

The Australian on Labor Holdings and the Cormack Foundation

Crikey piece on how the ABC has failed to cover this issue properly for years

AFR on property donors: Westfield winds it right back

Crikey wrap on six juicy campaign snippets

Bernard Keane on why we are groping in the dark on campaign finance

The Australian’s Mark Coultan on a deluge of mysterious Chinese money

ABC online column by Tim Leslie on why donations data is so bad

How The Telegraph and Ten in Queensland covered Palmer’s $6m contribution to his own part

Gary Gray and Stephen Mayne talk donations with Jonathan Green on Radio National in January 2016

Crikey piece on the stars aligning for campaign finance reform when in fact nothing has changed

Now, here are another 20 links with some historical documents and stories which will leave everyone fully prepared for tomorrow:

Bold NSW reforms which the Baird Government has vowed to pursue

2008 electoral funding green paper (102 pages) released by Rudd Government

John Faulkner “Light on the Hill” lecture calling for reform in 2014

2011 Parliamentary report (300 pages) into campaign finance and election campaigns

All documents and video of hearings in 2015 High Court case challenging NSW donations ban 

Three years of inactivity by a succession of Federal Liberal Special Ministers of State

Bill Shorten fails to disclose $40,000 Unibilt campaign donation in 2007

Australian Shareholders’ Associations calls for listed companies to stop donating

ALP reliance on revenue from pokies venues in Canberra

British Lord gives record $1m donation to John Howard in 2006

The Age splashes with details of $20,000 Clubs NSW donation to Kevin Andrews

Peter Costello leaves parliament, tries to retain control of $1m fundraising stash in Higgins

Failed insurer HIH a big donor which strongly favoured the Liberals

How Queensland laws revealed Packer’s 250k for Bob Katter a week after funds were paid

PM Tony Abbott use RAAF jet to attend birthday bash of 750k donor Paul Marks

How Graeme Wood’s $1.6m helped Greens secure Senate balance of power in 2010

Where are the balance sheets? Only churches get more disclosure concessions

Sinodinos as NSW Liberal Party Treasurer unaware of $72,000 donation by company he chaired

ALP returns 500k from wife of Macau gambling mogul Stanley Ho

Westfield’s 150k goes to NSW Liberals through Federal foundation when developer donations banned

How Rich Lister Rob Gerard dodged tax, hid Liberal donations and made it onto the RBA board

ICAC’s 2002 Rockdale investigation which recommended developer donations reform

 

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2 comments

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2 thoughts on “Mayne: what to expect in tomorrow’s political donations dump

  1. Wayne Robinson

    The AEC won’t be reporting all political donations from 2015/16 tomorrow. Just the ones above around $14,000 (unless they also report the ones above $1000 the ALP in turn declares to the AEC).

  2. AR

    Thanks Stephen. Your fortitude and continued resilience is daunting.

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