The lack of elections and the growing reluctance of business to donate to political parties saw a big fall in political donations in 2016-17, with public funding the biggest source of revenue for the major parties, according to today's annual political donation data release.

The data, released under the Commonwealth's antiquated donation disclosure laws, shows just 205 donors contributed to political parties in 2016-17 -- the lowest number since the Howard government lifted the reporting threshold to reduce transparency in the mid-2000s, and nearly half the 396 donors in 2015-16. With only the West Australian election falling fully within the reporting year (the 2016 federal election was held on July 2; the ACT also had an election), the parties were more focused on paying off previous election debts with taxpayer funding. And foreign donors almost entirely disappeared, with only longstanding donor Chau Chak Wing's Hong Kong Kingson making an appearance.