A handful of major unions dominate donations and other funding for the Labor Party across its branches in the 2015-16 political donations data.
The powerful right-wing, socially conservative Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association (SDA) was the party’s funding powerhouse, providing a total via its federal and state offices of over $550,000 to federal Labor, another $450,000 to NSW Labor, over $240,000 to Victorian Labor and $170,000 to Queensland Labor. The Shoppies also demonstrated why they have such clout in WA, providing around $420,000 to WA Labor — a much bigger proportion of division revenue compared to eastern state branches — and gave another $120,000 to SA Labor.
The left-wing United Voice — formerly the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union — was also a key funder with over $530,000 to the party’s federal branch from the union’s national office. The union, via its state and federal offices, also gave over $140,000 to NSW Labor, over $330,000 to Queensland Labor (Labor ran particularly hard on 457 visas in Queensland, which affect hospitality as well as mining and construction) and over $200,000 to WA Labor. The CFMEU was a bit-player federally, with just $46,000 to Labor, but its divisions and branches were a major funding source at the state level: over $200,000 to NSW Labor and $430,000 to Victorian ALP, as well as over $130,000 in the west. The left-wing AMWU gave over $320,000 to federal Labor and just over $90,000 each to the NSW and Victorian parties.
Federal Labor’s biggest private donor was its regular source of copyright cartel funding, Village Roadshow, which gave both federal Labor and the federal Liberal Party huge donations: $250,000 for Labor (plus some pocket change for state branches) and $295,000 to the Liberals. A surprise donor to federal Labor was the Salary Packaging Association (the parasites behind the novated lease tax rip-off), which gave just under $150,000 (and $175,000 to the Liberals); Gold Coast entrepreneur Sean Tomlinson was also a big donor to Labor, stumping up $110,000, along with resources giant Woodside (Woodside tends to play a straight bat — it gave $110,000 to both sides).
But Labor failed to enjoy the traditional largesse of Chinese donors, which has been on the wane since the glory days of the late 2000s: Hong Kong Kingson (which has switched the bulk of its funding to the Liberals in recent years) gave $50,000 to federal Labor and $100,000 to the NSW division; Xiangmo Huang’s Chaoshan No.1 gave NSW Labor $30,000, supermarket owner Chuangxiong Luo gave another $50,000 to NSW Labor; mystery donor Ying Zhou of Carlton in Sydney gave $100,000 — but what was once a rich source of six-figure donations for Sussex Street and, to a lesser extent, federal Labor has now waned significantly. After the disaster that befell Sam Dastyari last year, it may not recover when we have a chance to look at the current year’s figures. But for that, you’ll have to wait 12 months.