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Biggest donors to political parties revealed by AEC

The Australian Electoral Commission has released data on how much the nation’s political parties received last year in donations and from who.

The Nationals have accepted a $56,000 donation from tobacco giant Philip Morris, while David Leyonhjelm’s Liberal Democratic Party received $40,000 from the New York-based multinational.

The news was revealed in the latest political donations release from the Australian Electoral Commission covering the 2017-18 financial year.

The Liberal Party raked in $62.8 million in total receipts across all its state and territory divisions.

The federal Liberals received $5,643,463 in total receipts — a not unsizeable amount for a non-election year — which included $250,000 in two donations from ANZ. It also included a $150,000 donation from the company owned by cardboard manufacturing billionaire, Anthony Pratt, as well as $200,000 from the NSW Liberal division’s Cook Endeavour forum.

Labor raked in slightly less with $60m in donations in the 2017-18 financial year, propped up by sizable union donations.

The nation’s largest ASX listed childcare provider, G8 Education gave $607,396 to the Labor Party in the same financial year.

The donations were made to the ACT branch of the party via the party’s 1973 Foundation fundraising vehicle.

The move came before Labor announced a $1.75 billion election package to expand childcare subsidies to give three-year-olds and their families access to 15 hours of preschool a week if they get into office.

The party also received large donations from the clubs and hotels lobby, energy companies, gambling and alcohol companies, banks and consultants.

Smaller Coalition party, the Nationals, pocketed $8.18 million in total receipts in the year to June 2018, including $51,766 from the Australian Hotels Association, $37,620 from the Pharmacy Guild of Australia and $36,350 from Tabcorp.

The Greens’s total receipts totalled $12.9 million, including nearly $600,000 from academic Chilla Bulbeck and $200,000 from the Electrical Trades Union.

Mathematician and gambler Duncan Turpie gave the party $150,000, while Graeme Wood, a backer of The Guardian, tipped in $76,000.

An entity controlled by businessman James Power, who is a backer of the conservative Advance Australia lobby, gave Cory Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives $100,000.

Former rich lister Francis Hargrave donated $30,000 to the Victorian division of the Australian Conservatives.

One Nation received $15,000 from Adani, which also donated $35,000 to the ACT branch of the Liberal Party.

In NSW, the Liberal party received $12,369,593 in total receipts for the 2017-18 financial year ahead of next month’s state election, including $250,000 in two donations from Waratah Group Australia.

The Victorian division received $12,921,636 and the largest single donation over the financial year of $2.3 million from Vapold Pty Ltd, the Victorian Liberal Party’s investment company. The money did not help stave-off a disastrous election result for the Victorian Liberals with Labor Premier Daniel Andrews picking up an extra eight seats in November’s state election.

Queensland’s Liberal National Party received $15,398,282 in total receipts including a donation of $75,000 donation from country racing identity Ian McCauley and $51,000 from Brisbane businessmen, Ron Baldwin.

In Western Australia, the Liberals received $3,439,912 with the single biggest individual donation coming from mining millionaire, Charles Bass, at $125,000

The South Australian division received $8,123,591 in total receipts including major donations from Adelaide engineer and businessman Ian Wall and his wife Pam who, between them, contributed $397,000.

The AusGold Mining Group, owned by enigmatic Chinese mining magnate Sally Zou, also made a $172,054 donation. Ms Zou is known for setting up a company called the Julie Bishop Glorious Foundation, which triggered questions in parliament in mid-2017 over Mr Bishop’s links with Ms Zou.

The Liberal Party’s Tasmanian division received $4,168,930 over the 2017-18 financial year while the ACT Liberals received $752,627.

Left wing activist group GetUp also spent more than $740,000 in the 2017-18 financial year on broadcasting, printing and the expression of political views as well as polling and research.

According to its third party return lodged with the AEC in November 2018, GetUp spent $145,421 on the “public expression of views on a political party”; $12,843 on the public expression of views “in an election”; $422,738 on electoral advertisements in print and online; $49,888 on the broadcasting of political material and $111,706 on opinion polling and research.
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