debate bill shorten scott morrison 2019 federal election
(Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas)

The annual donations data dump gives us our best glimpse into who major political parties get their money from. Between out-and-out donations and what the AEC calls “other receipts” (where the donor technically got something for their money), here are the biggest spenders of the last year:


Unsurprisingly, Labor got the majority of its funds from various affiliated unions. The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union gave $280,000, the Electrical Trades Union $1.25 million, the CFMMEU gave $850,000, United Voice $950,000 and the shoppies donated a million (plus another $38,000 or so from various state branches).

In the private sector, Anthony Pratt’s packaging company Pratt Holdings gave $1.56 million, including $200,000 in other receipts. Westpac gave a total of $2.5 million (all of which was classified as “other receipts”). Labor-linked law firm Maurice Blackburn chipped in $136,212 in explicit donations and $264,112 counting all services. Advertising agency Ikon Communications provided $166,741, all in other receipts.

Eric Forday gave the biggest individual donation with $100,000.

Labor also got a lot of money from the party’s investment arm, which donated $300,000. State branches also did their part, which Victoria being by far the most generous with $559,953 in donations — its contribution goes up to $1.23 million with other receipts. Queensland donated $211,000 ($433,405 with other receipts) and SA $10,000 ($109,451 with other receipts). NSW Labor, perhaps needing the cash for their own election fight contributed $306,344, entirely in other receipts.

Many companies managed to contribute over a $100,000 without making a single explicit donation: Tata Consultancy ($164,000), Pharmacy Guild of Australia ($152,100) and TWAAJ Invetments Pty Ltd ($110,000).

Liberal Party

The Liberal party got its biggest donations from the Cormack Foundation with $3.5 million, closely followed by Sugolena Pty Ltd — linked to property investor and philanthropist Isaac Wakil — with $3.45 million. Pratt Holdings netted them $1.32 million.

The mysterious Greenfields Foundation brought in $950,000 while a group called the Cormann LP Campaign Committee gave $418,990 all up, and $385,000 in donations.

The New South Wales Liberals were more generous than their Labor counterparts, giving $357,212 ($255,000 in donations). But, again, the most from a state branch came from Victoria: $411,923 in contributions ($200,000 in donations).

The Liberals had more big individual donations, Dr Roland Williams ($100,000), Danny Wallis ($171,000) and Simon Fenwick ($125,000).

Other notable donors include apartment developers Meriton Group with $200,000 and Mathias Cormann’s buddies at Helloworld Travel with $110,000 (all under “other receipt”). In the big four, PwC contributed $200,000 while KPMG gave a modest $55,000 and neither made an explicit donation.