Interactive: a snapshot of political donations in Australia for 2015-16

Michael Courts, The Conversation and Wes Mountain, The Conversation

The Australian Electoral Commission on Wednesday released data showing donations to political parties for the year 2015-16. The interactives below show the total donations to Australia’s major parties, who the biggest donors to the parties were, and how donations to parties have changed in recent years.

The ConversationYou can read Yee-Fui Ng’s analysis piece on what the donations reveal here.

Michael Courts, Deputy Section Editor: Politics + Society, The Conversation and Wes Mountain, Deputy Multimedia Editor, The Conversation

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Who were the big donors?

In the 2015-16 financial year, the Liberal Party received $14.7 million in donations. Labor received $10.4 million. The Greens received $2.9 million. As 2016 was an election year, this is an increase from 2014-15, when the Liberals received $10.4 million and Labor received $7.2 million.

The largest donors for Labor were unions. The Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association, the Community and Public Sector Union, the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union, the Health Services Union, the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union and United Voice donated a total of $3.7 million across various branches.

Progressive Business, Labor’s fundraising arm, channelled donations worth $400,000 to the party.

The largest donors to the Liberals were mining entrepreneurs and property developers. Mining magnate Paul Marks donated $1.3 million, while Aus Gold Mining donated $460,000. Former Liberal minister Stuart Robert’s alleged involvement in Marks’ business dealings led to his resignation from the ministry.

Who were the big donors?

The largest donors to the Liberals were mining entrepreneurs and property developers.

The Cormack Foundation, a Liberal fundraising entity, channelled $2.9 million to the party.

The Liberals also received major foreign political donations. Hong Kong Kingson Investment and Kingold Group, two companies owned by property billionaire Chau Chak Wing, gave $700,000 in total. Kingson Investment also gave $100,000 to Labor.

The Waratah Group, a Chinese-Australian company with mining and property development interests, gave the Liberals $300,000. Pratt Holdings donated $500,000.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s rumoured personal donation to the Liberal Party was not disclosed. This means it will be yet another year before we know what the donation was. In the last election, donors who donated on July 1 can escape scrutiny for 20 months after the vote.

Wotif founder Graeme Wood donated $630,000 to the Greens.

Australia’s biggest political donors revealed

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s reported $1 million donation to the Liberal Party’s election campaign has not appeared in the Australian Election Commission’s donation disclosure.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s reported $1 million donation to the Liberal Party’s election campaign has not appeared in the Australian Election Commission’s donation disclosure but several of his senior colleagues dug into their own pockets to support the campaign.

The AEC has reported the Liberal Party declared $14.7 million in donations, including a $1.3 million donation from mining tycoon Paul Marks who is also a friend of former prime minister Tony Abbott.

Biggest donors revealed

Mr Mark’s donation was the year’s biggest, followed by $860,000 from property development and investment company Kingold Group owned by Chinese-born billionaire Chau Chak Wing, $850,000 from Pratt Holdings, $636,200 from Village Roadshow and $636,000 from businessman and long-time GetUp! supporter Graeme Wood.
Donations and other receipts by party. Les Hewitt

Chinese mining mogul and steel mill owner Sally Zou donated $400,000 to the Liberal party while Huang Xiangmo, the chairman of property developer Yuhu Group, donated $206,000 via separate entities, mostly to the Liberal party. The Moufarrige family behind Servcorp donated $350,000 to the Liberal party.

Mr Turnbull’s reported donation has not yet been discovered, with speculation swirling in Canberra that the donation may have been made on the last day of the campaign, which would dodge this year’s reporting requirements and would mean it could be reported as late as February 2018.

While the reports had no record of Mr Turnbull’s reported $1 million loan to the Liberal Party, there was another million-dollar lender.

Palmer loans $1m to PUP

Clive Palmer loaned $912,631 to his Palmer United Party through his holding company Mineralogy, plus a $121,176 personal loan he made to the party, a total of $1,033,807.
Top donors and recipient party Les Hewitt

Including the loans, Mr Palmer provided $1.72 million funding for PUP, including $400,022 in donations from Mineralogy and the controversial $288,515 donated by companies in his Queensland Nickel operation before a liquidator was appointed.

On top of the $630,000 that businessman Graeme Wood gave to the Greens and $6000 to Labor, election returns released in December show he also contributed $200,000 to the election campaign of former independent Tony Windsor, who failed to unseat Barnaby Joyce from New England.

Labor raises $10.3m

The data shows Finance Minister Mathias Cormann’s election committee donated $170,000, Peter Dutton’s and Simon Birmingham’s local branches donated $50,000, and $20,000 respectively.

Chinese-born billionaire Chau Chak Wing has found a double standard is applied to Australians of non-Anglo origin. Sahlan Hayes

Controversial Liberal data company Parakeelia paid out almost $950,000 in donations and other receipts.

Meanwhile, nationally the Labor Party received $36.5 million in receipts including $10.4 million from donations.

One of Labor’s biggest source of funds was from the Canberra-based 1973 Foundation which donated more than $357,000 and $200,000 in other receipts. The Foundation makes its money from poker machines and revenues at Canberra Labor clubs.

Both parties accrued significant debts during the election year, with Labor declaring $36.3 million in debt, and the Liberal Party reporting $34.6 million in debts.

Property developers generous

Billionaire property developers through to one of China’s wealthiest men Wang Jianlin’s Wanda Group made big donations to both parties during the year.

Billionaire John Gandel’s Gandel Group $110,000 to the ALP and $156,000 to the Liberal Party while the Lowy family’s Westfield Corporation gave $160,000 to both sides.

A raft of small developers including Chris Vitale’s Point Corp and Luke Hartman’s Metro Property Development donated to both sides of politics while Wanda Ridong, which is building a giant resort on the Gold Coast donated $20,000 to the Liberal National Party.

Minor parties big winners

The year’s disclosure shows minor parties were recipients of significant donations. Perth’s prominent orthopaedic surgeon Tony Robinson donated $537,000 to Australian Liberty Alliance, an anti-Islam party that has been touted as Australia’s Donald Trump party.

Meanwhile BRW Rich Lister Geoff Harris, the co-founder of Flight Centre, donated $220,000 to Sustainable Australia, a political party which advocates for lower population growth, under the company name 26 Summers. His former wife and philanthrope Susan also poured $300,000 into the political party through a corporate vehicle Rufolo.

Flux Party co-founders Max Kaye and Nathan Spataro, along with Tomas Bernad and Tristan Grace, donated $185,000 to their own political party via a corporate entity Exo One.

Flux is a new political party set up in 2016 which has no political platform. Instead it aims to allow members of the public to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on each bill before parliament via a smartphone app.

Push for more disclosure

Opposition leader Bill Shorten restated on Tuesday Labor’s promise to to clamp down on foreign donations, reduce the disclosure threshold from $13,200 to $1000 and provide greater accountability.

“It is long past time we lowered the disclosure threshold from $13,200 to $1,000,” he said.
Mr Shorten also asked why Mr Turnbull had not yet declared his rumoured donation.
“You’ve all asked him in the media,” he said.  “He’s always known this day would come.”

The Australian Electoral Commission says parties must disclose their donors identities each financial year, if their contributions exceed $13,000.

Liberal Party finances took a hit last year when the NSW Electoral Commission announced it was withholding $4.4 million in public funding from the NSW Liberals until the party formally disclosed who donated $693,000 to it via a controversial fundraising body, the Free Enterprise Foundation.

Political PartyAmount ($)
Liberal Party of Australia   23,464,128.62
Australian Labor Party   22,355,109.55
Australian Greens     6,337,258.36
National Party of Australia     3,158,301.63
Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party     1,623,827.11
Nick Xenophon Team     1,179,992.89
Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party      544,420.99
Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group)        283,838.18
Family First        218,993.20
Country Liberals (Northern Territory)        180,977.63
Katter’s Australian Party        157,743.09
Rise Up Australia Party         75,490.79
Jacqui Lambie Network         68,951.79
Liberal Democratic Party         48,494.75
Animal Justice Party         34,114.28
Australian Recreational Fishers Party         29,277.97
Glenn Lazarus Team         21,220.94
Australian Christians         20,422.25
Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party         17,456.17
Bullet Train for Australia         15,509.23
Australian Liberty Alliance         15,277.98
Australian Country Party           9,155.11
Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP) Party           6,311.79
Australian Sex Party           6,311.79
Catherine McGowan (Indi, Victoria)         81,241.57
Andrew Wilkie (Denison, Tasmania)         76,413.07
Antony Windsor (New England, New South Wales)         72,333.82
Robert Oakeshott (Cowper, New South Wales)         70,762.48
Stephen Ruff (North Sydney, New South Wales)         30,745.25
Dennis Jensen (Tangney, Western Australia)         25,836.11
James Mathison (Warringah, New South Wales)         25,721.64
Bradley Christensen (Lyne, New South Wales)         24,004.61
Jim Ball (McKellar, New South Wales)         17,645.66
Daniel McCarthy (Leichardt, Queensland)         15,821.94
Kevin Foley (Riverina, New South Wales)         15,722.08
Stephen Mayne (Menzies, Victoria)         15,214.91
David Wilks (Forde, Queensland)         13,575.14
John Harvey (Hunter, New South Wales)         12,261.22
David Tran (Gellibrand, Victoria)         11,922.23
Julie Hegarty (Mackellar, New South Wales)         11,706.74
Kenneth Murray (Capricornia, Queensland)         11,131.25
Christine Berman (Bradfield, New South Wales)         10,939.41
Stephen Large (Dawson, Queensland)         10,794.88
Arthur Mills (Farrer, New South Wales)         10,684.51
Michael McCluskey (Wannon, Victoria)         10,437.50
Robert Jones (McPherson, Queensland)           9,917.18
Yingiya Mark Guyula (Lingiari,  Northern Territory)           4,672.02
Braedon Earley (Lingiari, Northern Territory)           4,551.13