Labor senator Sam Dastyari has resigned from his frontbench position over a $1670 bill he allowed to be paid by Chinese company Top Education. Questions have also been raised over Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and donations of $500,000 made to the Western Australian branch of the Liberal Party, with Labor's Stephen Conroy claiming Bishop had accepted gifts and airfares from a Chinese company.
The Dastyari saga has again raised questions over how political donations in Australia should be treated or governed, with calls to reform the system. Bill Shorten has already signalled he wants donations to be more tightly regulated, with a more transparent disclosure and reporting system, while independent MP Andrew Wilkie announced on Thursday that he had written to Shorten and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull calling for a ban on foreign donations.
Even putting foreign donations aside for a moment, political donations that come from inside Australia can sometimes be a murky issue. Donations are not reported or disclosed with much urgency -- the latest donations released by the Australian Electoral Commission are for the 2014-15 financial year, despite Australia now having entered the 2016-17 financial year. Political parties only had to disclose receipts of more than $12,800 in the 2014-15 year, according to the AEC (the threshold rises with CPI each year, and now sits at $13,200). Even when the identities of donors are recorded and released by the AEC, often the information is limited to a name and an address of a post office box. The disclosures are also hard for the average punter to find or interpret.
With that in mind, we thought we'd simply and clearly lay out the biggest political donors in Australia in the latest disclosure period, the 2014-15 financial year, according to the AEC. To be clear, we're not suggesting any wrongdoing, or any link to the debates and controversy currently surrounding certain politicians -- we're simply laying it out for you to see exactly who is giving big bucks to our leaders. If you'd like to have a look for yourself, check out the AEC's Election Disclosure website here, or the summary of donations by party group.
According to the AEC, the Liberal Party received $10.418 million in donations in the 2014-15 period. Here they are below:
All donations to the Liberal Party of Australia, unless noted otherwise
- Brunswick Property Vic Pty Ltd: $600,000
- Mr Paul Marks: $325,000
- Pratt Holdings P/L: $210,000
- Charles and Sylvia Bass: $200,000 -- to the Liberal Party (W.A. Division) Inc.
- Ever Bright Group: $200,000
- National Australia Bank Limited: $177,775
- Australian Hotels & Hospitality Association Inc: $157,100 -- to the Liberal Party of Australia (Victorian Division)
- Woodside Energy Limited: $127,000
- Paul Ramsay Holdings Pty Limited: $125,000
Some more Liberal donors include the Commonwealth Bank ($47,700), KPMG ($60,000), Westpac Banking Corporation ($44,000), Allianz Australia ($35,000) and Blackmores ($25,000).
According to the AEC, the Australian Labor Party received $7.193 million in donations in the 2014-15 period. Here they are below:
All donations to the Australian Labor Party, unless noted otherwise
- Mr Sean Tomlinson $253,300
- Australian Hotels & Hospitality Association Inc: $171,000 -- to the Australian Labor Party (Victorian Branch)
- Electrical Trades Union of Australia - Victorian Branch: $131,000 -- to the Australian Labor Party (Victorian Branch)
- The Civic Group: $125,050 -- Australian Labor Party (Victorian Branch)
- Mr Eng Joo Ang: $110,000 -- to ALP-NSW
- Woodside Energy Limited: $110,000
- Jianping Fu Min Zhang: $100,000 -- Australian Labor Party (Victorian Branch)
- ANZ Banking Group Limited: $80,000
- Zaparas Lawyers: $78,800 -- to Australian Labor Party (Victorian Branch)
- Macquarie Group Limited: $72,400
Some more Labor donors include the CFMEU ($55,000), Cabcharge Australia ($50,000), Origin Energy ($47,550), the Commonwealth Bank ($46,925), Crown Resorts Limited ($42,990) and Santos Limited ($40,688).
According to the AEC, The Nationals received $613,000 in donations in the 2014-15 period. Here they are below:
All donations to the National Party of Australia, unless noted otherwise
- Rico Investments Pty Ltd: $155,348 -- to the National Party of Australia - N.S.W.
- Australian Hotels & Hospitality Association Inc: $86,049 -- to the National Party of Australia - Victoria
- Manildra Group: $60,628
- Manildra Group: $54,300 -- to NAT-NSW
- Retail Guild of Australia Inc: $47,661 -- to the National Party of Australia (WA) Inc
- Macquarie Group Limited: $32,600
- Douglas Kefford Capital Pty Ltd: $30,000 -- to the National Party of Australia - Victoria
- Santos Limited -- $23,320
- CropLife Australia Limited -- $22,000
Some more Nationals donors include Hancock Prospecting ($22,000), Crown Resorts ($12,000), Philip Morris Limited ($10,780) and Woodside Energy ($10,000).
According to the AEC, the Greens received $220,000 in donations in the 2014-15 period. Here they are below:
- Prof Chilla Bulbeck: $31,685 -- The Greens (WA) Inc
- Senator Lee Rhiannon: $24,904 -- The Greens NSW
- MDC Legal: $22,905 -- The Greens (WA) Inc
- Mr Jeremy Buckingham: $20,737 -- The Greens NSW
- Mr Duncan Turpie: $20,000 -- Australian Greens, Victorian Branch
- Dr John Kaye: $19,269 -- The Greens NSW
- Ms Jan Barham: $19,254 -- The Greens NSW
- Dr Mehreen Faruqi: $19,004 -- GRN-NSW
- Ms Rosemary Knight: $18,692 -- Australian Greens, Victorian Branch
- Mr Jamie Parker: $18,666 -- The Greens NSW
- Mr Duncan Turpie: $5,000 -- Australian Greens, Tasmanian Branch
These 11 donations were the only ones recorded to the Greens in 2014-15, according to the AEC.