Thursday, 15 December 2016
ABC News, 7 December 2016:
Declared donations and payments to Australian political parties is about to top $1 billion, a new analysis of data shows.
But the true figure could be triple that because donations under $13,200 do not have to be declared.
"It's very hard to know because disclosure laws in Australia are very opaque, they're not transparent," Monash University's Dr Charles Livingstone said.
"I wouldn't be surprised if it was twice or three times as much as been declared, at least."
Dr Livingstone has studied political donations and in particular how donations made by the gambling industry have influenced public policy.
He says the current laws are "corrupt, they're opaque and they undermine democracy".
The new database has been compiled by The Greens from donations and payments declared to the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) between 1998 and 2015.
The current funding and disclosure scheme has been in place since the 1984 election, but the electoral commission website only publishes returns from 1998 onwards.
An analysis by the ABC shows tracing the source of the donations is also difficult, because more than 20 per cent of the money was funnelled through organisations called associated entities.
Labor and The Greens are expected to push for reforms to political donation laws when Parliament resumes next year.
They want a ban on foreign donations and for all donations above $1,000 to be declared…..
Donations and payments declared to the AEC between 1998 and 2015 have been collated into a central, searchable database.
It includes receipts for $994,822,181 in donations and other payments called "other receipts" or "subscriptions".
The largest corporate donors over the 17-year period were:
Queensland Nickel Pty Ltd — $21,664,196
One of Clive Palmer's companies, now in liquidation, has donated to his own political party and to the Liberal and National parties.
Mineralogy Pty Ltd — $14,692,636
Another of Clive Palmer's companies that made significant donations to his own party and to the Liberal and National parties, despite reporting consecutive losses to the ASX.
Village Roadshow Limited — $5,022,263
The company made large payments to both the Labor and Liberal parties while lobbying for a crackdown on digital piracy.
Pratt Holdings — $4,609,733
Linked to Melbourne's well-connected Pratt family who made their fortune with Visy Industries, a paper, packaging and recycling company.
The most generous industries over the 17-year period were:
The property industry — $64,099,161
Financial and insurance industries — $37,078,539
Pharmaceutical/health — $12,625,078
In terms of total donations, the most generous individuals were:
Lord Michael Ashcroft — $1,772,938
A conservative UK businessman who has donated to the Liberal Party in Australia.
Graeme Wood — $1,680,795
A digital entrepreneur and environmentalist who has donated to The Greens.
Henry Ray Gillham — $1,035,900
A Queensland grazier who stood as a candidate for the Citizens Electoral Council in the 2004 federal election, but forgot to fill in his own ballot paper correctly. His donations were all to the CEC……
The searchable database Democracy 4 Sale was established in 2002 and was expanded this year. It now contains all donation receipts reported to the AEC since 1998 and includes donations which were declared by the donor but not the party.