Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s $1.75 million gift to his own re-election campaign dwarfed all other donations made to Australia’s political parties last financial year, new data confirms.
The Australian Electoral Commission’s annual returns, published on Thursday morning, reveal the extent of the cash poured into the political process – more than $207 million in total.
As the Turnbull government sought a second federal term, the data shows the Prime Minister’s party out-raised Labor, with donors showering more than $95 million on the Liberals. Labor received more than $70 million.
The Greens outraised the Nationals, receiving $16 million, compared with $12 million for the junior Coalition partner.
Mr Turnbull’s $1.75 million gift, which he had previously confirmed, dwarfed other large donations received by the Liberals, such as the party’s second biggest gift – $500,000 from Roslyn Packer, the widow of the media mogul Kerry.
Aus Gold Mining Group, which is owned by the Chinese mining magnate Sally Zou, gave $316,064 to the Liberals. Ms Zou once established a company called the Julie Bishop Glorious Foundation in honour of the Deputy Liberal Leader.
Labor’s largest donation was made by the ANZ Bank, which gave the party $150,000. It gave the same amount to the Liberals.
The party also declared $30,000 from Hong Kong Kingston Investment, the company of China-linked donor Chau Chak Wing,
Reclusive mathematician, investor and high-end gambler Duncan Turpie gave the Greens’ its biggest donation – $150,000.
Tobacco giant Phillip Morris gifted $15,000 to the Nationals, and $20,000 to the Liberal Democrats, the party led by the libertarian New South Wales Senator David Leyonhjelm. The Liberals and Labor do not accept tobacco donations.
Thursday’s returns are likely to put the spotlight back on foreign donations and come as the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters examines legislation aimed at banning overseas cash from the Australian political process.
Last year, The New Daily revealed research by the Melbourne Law School, which found Chinese donors contributed $12.6 million to the domestic political process between 2000 and 2016. That equated to just under 80 per cent of all foreign donations.
The government plans to ban donations from overseas bank accounts, non-citizens and foreign entities, but the non-profit sector has raised concerns charities and aid groups had been unfairly targeted by the legislation.