CANBERRA – It is one of the great modern unknowns of Australian politics, a mystery which the Federal Opposition has labelled "tricky and shifty"; how much did the millionaire Prime Minister donate to the Liberal Party's election war chest?
The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC), in a periodic dump of data, has revealed the federal Liberal Party, at the reporting date of June 30 2016, was nearly $12 million in debt.
So how did Malcolm Turnbull help?
The political donation is thought to be in the ballpark of $1 million and was widely expected to be revealed Wednesday.
But the size of Turnbull's helping hand will end up being revealed in February 2017, 19 months after it was made, as it missed the cutoff date for this AEC reporting period for political donations.
The scale of Malcolm Turnbull's donation to the Liberal election campaign to remain secret for another year https://t.co/WljGxSCYaA— smh.com.au (@smh) January 31, 2017
The Huffington Post Australia asked the Prime Minister's office on Wednesday about the ongoing delay in disclosure and was advised Turnbull was acting "in accordance with the law".
Turnbull has repeatedly refused to answer questions about the amount.
top 10 for Labor pic.twitter.com/hOsXOZhex9— Nick Evershed (@NickEvershed) January 31, 2017
It can be seen that the Immigration Minister Peter Dutton donated $50,000 to the Liberal Party, while Finance Minister Mathias Cormann gifted $29,000 and the Education Minister Simon Birmingham gave $20,000.
However, Dutton contends the reported donation and the Federal Liberal Party Director Tony Nutt has clarified the $50,000 is from the Minister's local electorate party organisation.
Away from politicians, the largest donation to the Liberal Party was $1.3 million from mining magnate Paul Marks.
The Labor Party received more than $10.3 million in donations. Many large amounts are from unions, including $607,395 from one of the largest trade unions, the Shop Distributors & Allied Employers Union.
Under the current rules, all political donations over $13,000 must be disclosed. The threshold means many reasonably large amounts remain secret. Labor wants the disclosure threshold lowered to $1,000 while the Greens are insisting on wholesale donations reform.
All up, parties/candidates declared total $32.4m in "donations" in 2015-16.— Peter Brent (@mumbletwits) January 31, 2017
All up, donors declared $27.8m in 2015-16.
The ongoing delay in Turnbull's disclosure is likely to frustrate influential Senator Nick Xenophon who has again called for political donations reform, including real-time disclosures, and has fuelled a revamped attack by Labor over transparency and integrity.
Turnbull was taunted about the donation on Tuesday during a speech by Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.
Something to hold Bill Shorten to in 2017: "people first, politics last." https://t.co/UuulHcHyUc— HuffPost Australia (@HuffPostAU) January 31, 2017
"He's always known this day would come," the Labor Leader told the National Press Club in Canberra.
"Why wait? Why hide behind a technicality?"
"It's tricky, it's shifty -- the Prime Minister owes Australians a lot better than the bare minimum.
"If 210 days of avoiding scrutiny is within the rules -- then the rules are just wrong."
The disclosure comes as the Prime Minister prepares to take his turn to deliver a major scene setting speech at the National Press Club later on Wednesday, to promise of a new family-friendly childcare package and reset the political agenda for 2017.
Turnbull will tell the lunchtime audience he is listening to voters left behind economically and disenchanted with tit-for-tat politics and the major parties.
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