Foreign money and Turnbull millions: Discover the donors that helped the Liberals win the election
By political reporter Jackson Gothe-Snape
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is Australia’s largest political donor, according to new disclosures published today.
The disclosures, from the period covering the last federal election, have finally been published — more than a year and a half after voters filled out their ballots.
The information includes a $500,000 pledge to the Liberal Party from Ros Packer, widow of billionaire Kerry Packer, and a $30,000 donation to the NSW Labor Party in May last year from Hong Kong Kingson Investment, the company of China-linked donor Chau Chak Wing.
Malcolm Turnbull’s Coalition won the 2016 election by securing a slim, one-seat majority in Parliament.
He confirmed last year he donated to the party’s campaign, but until now his payments — one of $1 million in October 2016 and one of $750,000 in December 2016 — had not been disclosed. Both payments were not formally made until after the election.
Experts have called for a system of real-time disclosure to improve transparency, however the timing of Mr Turnbull’s donations highlights potential flaws within such a scheme.
Even real-time disclosures would not have revealed the campaign funding from the Liberal leader until after the election.
Dr Charles Livingstone from Monash University said any donations disclosure reform must cover “promises” of funding.
“I suggest that parties be required to declare any such undertakings or pledges in the same way they’re required to declare debts,” he said.
Donations of more than $13,200 were required to be disclosed in the 2016-17 period.
Other notable disclosures include:
Queensland Deputy Premier Jackie Trad gave $38,000 to the Queensland ALP.
Hong Kong donor Kin Chao Sun gave $50,000 to the West Australian Liberals.
The Labor Party disclosed they returned $2,200 in payments from mining company Adani.
Seven West chairman Kerry Stokes gave $20,000 to the Liberal Party.
Phillip Morris donated to the Liberal Democrats and the National Party.
High-end gambler Duncan Turpie gave $150,000 to the Greens.
Aus Gold Mining Group, owned by Chinese businesswoman Sally Zou, donated $316,000 to the South Australian division of the Liberal Party.
The scheme does not require multiple donations to different entities of the same party to be disclosed, meaning the source of millions in political funding remains unknown.
Approximately $15 million in donations was disclosed by donors, a small proportion of parties’ total funding.
The Liberal Party received $95 million in funding across its eight separate divisions, which includes donations and other receipts such as investment returns and rent.
The ALP received funding of $71 million, the Nationals $12 million and the Greens $16 million.
Figures for the major parties were up compared to 2015-16 values, despite the period covering only the final two days of the 2016 election campaign.
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