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33 Political Donations You Really Need To Know About

But there's one big donation we still don't know anything about.

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The Australian Electoral Commission has released its annual financial disclosure returns, which details all the donations given to political parties during the 2015-16 financial year. Here are the donations you need to know about.

1. The Liberal Party received $15 million in the 2015-16 financial year, and the Nationals got $14.5 million.

Stefan Postles / Getty Images

That's up $10.3 million from the 2014-15 financial year.

At $3.1 million the biggest Liberal Party donation came from the Cormack Foundation, an investment company created in 1988 to raise funds for the Liberal Party.

2. Chinese-linked company Hong Kong Kingson Investment Limited is the second-largest donor of the year, giving more than $710,000 to the Liberal party.

Paul Miller / AAPIMAGE

It's owned by billionaire Chau Chak Wing (pictured on the left with govenor-general Peter Cosgrove), an Australian citizen, but is listed with a Hong Kong address.

Hong Kong Kingson also gave $150,000 to the Labor Party.


3. Mining and coal companies donated more than $200,000 to the Coalition.

Dan Peled / AAPIMAGE

- Aus Gold Mining Group $460,000

- Contura Mining $25,000

- Whitehaven Coal Limited $22,0000

- Gina Rinehart's Hancock Prospecting $58,000

The Liberal Party's other big donors include:

- Paper company Pratt Holdings $850,000

- Event Hospitality (which owns Event cinemas) $25,000

- health care company Bupa $27,500

- Shooting Industry Foundation of Australia $22,500

- Alliance Insurance $15,680

- James Packer's Crown Resorts group $15,000

- employment search engine SEEK $12,5000

- Liberal party lobby group PremierState $10,000

- Seven West Media $9,300

4. Labor received $15.4 million, with its biggest donations coming from fundraising bodies and unions.

Lisa Maree Williams / Getty Images

The federal branch of the Labor Party reported $15.4 million, but combined with all state branches the ALP raked in $60.9 million. $10,359,930 of that was donations.

Labor Holdings was the biggest donor, pitching in $3.86m.

6. Unions donated more than $2 million to Labor's coffers.

Vic Unions / Via Twitter: @VicUnions

- Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association $657,395

- United Voice $557,000

- Community and Public Sector Union $394,768

- Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union $322,000

- Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union $90,000

- Pharmacy Guild $82,500

- Australian Services Union $50,000

- Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union $49,260

- Clubs NSW $36,200

- Australian Workers Union $54,500

- Australian Salary Packaging Industry Association $27,500

- Transport Workers Union $20,000

- Maritime Union of Australia $20,000

- Rail Tram and Bus Union $27,541

- Australian Services Union $10,000

- Plumbing Trades Employee Union $5,000


9. The Rail, Tram and Bus Union gave $1000 to the Australian Sex Party.


I'm pretty sure having sex on a train, tram or bus is illegal tho.

10. Labor's largest single private donation was $257,000 from media company Village Roadshow.

Village owns cinemas, theme parks, and film production and distribution companies, and has campaigned in favour of a federal government crackdown on online copyright infringement. Village also donated $325,00 to the Liberal party.

The party’s John Curtin House organisation gave $500,000.

Other Labor donations came from:

- Swisse Wellness $71,500

- Sportsbet $33,000

- James Packer's casino Star Entertainment Group donated $33,200, and Crown donated $12,100

- Mining group Minerals Resources $27,500

- Bluescope Steel $16,500

- NRMA $15,900

- Chevron $15,500

- Commercial Radio Australia $13,200

- Petrol company Caltex $11,000

- Lottery group Tatts $10,000

- The Minerals Council of Australia donated $450 to Labor's campaign in the Hunter


12. A lot of companies, including TV Networks Ten and Nine, hedged their bets and donated to both political parties.

- Network Ten donated $47,273 to Labor and $46,432 to the Liberals

- Nine Network donated $27,500 to Labor and $12,000 to the Liberals

- Westfield donated $150,000 both parties

- Woolside Energy donated $110,000 to both parties

- the Australians Hotels Association donated $32,000 to Labor and $179,450 to the Liberals

- Oil and gas company Santos donated $36,650 and $29,740 to the Liberals

- the National Automotive Leasing and Salary Packaging Association donated $153,200 to Labor and $177,000 to the Liberals

- Telco Optus donated $31,500 to both parties

- Gambling company Tabcorp donated $28,050 to Labor and $600 to the Liberals

13. The largest single donor to any party in 2015-2016 was mining millionaire Paul Marks, who gave $1.3 million to the Liberal Party.


Marks is a long time Liberal donor and friend of former prime minister Tony Abbott and Stuart Robert, who lost his job as a minister last year over a deal involving Marks’ company Nimrod Resources.

His donation is believed to be the second biggest personal donation in Australian history, behind only Graeme Wood's $1.6 million 2010 donation to the Greens.


16. Top Education Institute donated more than $705,000 to Labor and the Liberals. That's the Chinese company that paid senator Sam Dastyari's travel bill... and got him dumped from Labor's front bench.

Dean Lewins / AAPIMAGE

The Labor Party also received $50,000 in donations from Chinese businessman Luo Chuangxiong. He gave $200,000 in 2013-14.

17. Former Victorian Liberal state director Damien Mantach, who was jailed for almost three years for stealing more than $1.5m from the party, donated $535,086 back.


24. And $1,821,344 of that money came from Clive Palmer or his mining companies Mineralogy and Queensland Nickel.


Palmer donated $121,176 of his own money, Mineralogy donated $1,411,653 and Queensland Nickel forked out $288, 515.

This is the same year Palmer laid off hundreds of workers from Queensland Nickel.

The party is also listed as being in debt to Minerology to the tune of $912,631 (the exact amount of one of its donations) and $121,176 to Palmer himself (again, the exact amount of his personal donation). It also has debts to printing companies IPG and Atomic Pixel.

25. Bob Katter's Australia Party received more than half a million dollars in donations including $75,000 from the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia.

Twitter: @RealBobKatter

The gun loving Queenslander got in a bit of hot water during the election for a controversial ad which implied he shot two people dressed as the LNP and ALP.

The Katter party also got $25,000 from the CFMEU.


28. Derryn Hinch's Justice Party received $173,687 in payments.

Lukas Coch / AAP

The human headline donated $16,000 of his own money to his party.

The party has debts of $80,491 including $34,000 to Salmat Media.

30. Former Queensland senator Glenn Lazarus and his team received $240,000 worth of donations.


Including $160,000 donated by the Queensland Council of Unions and $20,470 by the Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers.


33. It wasn't in the AEC donations register but prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has revealed he donated $1.75 million of his own money to the Liberal party during last year’s election campaign.

BuzzFeed News

There are rumours the PM donated $2 million in the second half of the eight-week campaign as the party was desperately trying to counter Labor and the unions' Mediscare campaign.

But there's a loophole in last year's donation reporting. Because the election was on July 2, if money was given the day before the poll, on election day, or in the aftermath, it won't be disclosed until this financial year's reports are out in February next year. That's 20 months after the vote.


Alice Workman is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Canberra.

Contact Alice Workman at

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