Political donations boomed ahead of last federal election
DONATIONS to the nation's major political parties boomed last financial year as business prepared for the 2013 election, new data shows.
The annual release of donations data from the Australian Electoral Commission showed the federal Liberal Party raked in $43 million in 2013-14, compared with about $11 million the previous year.
Similarly, donations to federal Labor grew almost three-fold, at $40 million last year from $14.5 million the previous.
The Greens received $6.4 million, up from $6.3 million in 2012-13, while Clive Palmer's various companies donated almost $29 million, including the largest domestic corporate donation of $7.7 million from Mineralogy.
Among the top donors were British conservative and international businessman Lord Michael Ashcroft, who gave the Liberal Party $250,000, the largest donation by an individual in 2013-14.
Another notable was tobacco firm Philip Morris, which donated $93,000 to the Coalition and $35,000 to the Liberal Democratic Party, represented in parliament by Senator David Leyonhjelm.
But after Prime Minister Tony Abbott in August 2013 ruled out accepting tobacco industry donations in the Liberal Party, Philip Morris donated $23,300 to the National Party instead.
Alcohol giant Lion also gave $45,000 to the Labor Party before the federal election and $55,000 to the Liberal Party after the 2013 poll.
Lesser donors included Crown Resorts, Linc Energy, Hancock Prospecting, Nioa Nominees, Origin Energy, Leighton Holdings and unions including the CFMEU.
The parent company of New Hope coal miner, WH Soul Pattinson, also donated an extra $250,000 to the federal Liberal party as the Queensland government considered its New Acland mine expansion application.Liberal Party-linked "associated entities" the Cormack Foundation gave about $4 million, while the Free Enterprise Foundation also donated $1.25 million to the party.
But the biggest overseas company donation, some $850,000 to federal Labor, came from a mysterious Chinese firm, listed as "Zi Chun Wang" in documents.
While the donations returns show the company's address as in Shijiazhuang in China's Hebei province, the company regulator shows no Australian-registered business under that name