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Key donors to SA's political parties revealed

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Companies linked to Chinese businesswoman Sally Zou were among the biggest donors to the South Australian branch of the Liberal Party last year, according to official documents released by the Australian Electoral Commission today.

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The party’s return for 2017-18 shows companies connected to Zou donated $276,130 to the Liberal cause, including $22,888 from Aus Diamond Group, $172,054 from Aus Gold Mining Group Pty Ltd, and $81,188 from Aus Gold Exchange Pty Ltd.

However, Zou’s donations were outstripped by local couple Ian and Pam Wall – longtime Liberal supporters who donated nearly $400,000 between them ($188,500 from Ian and $208,500 from Pam).

The source of much of the local Labor Party’s support was essentially hidden, with the biggest contribution – $587,332 – coming through its fundraising arm, SA Progressive Business, which runs paid events.

The second largest contribution – $170,000 – was from the Shop Distributive Association SA Branch, otherwise known as the Shoppies union.

The South Australian Greens reported total receipts of $602,528, with the biggest contributions coming from electoral funding and $75,000 from former senator Penny Wright (which was a loan, not a donation).

Cory Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives did not list a single individual donor in its small return of just under $12,000.

The Centre Alliance – formerly the Nick Xenophon Team – reported just over $125,000 in receipts, with Nick Xenophon’s SA Best Inc the biggest contributor, with $39,437 (not a donation).

Total returns for the larger parties in the election year were in the millions: the SA Liberal Party’s total receipts in 2017-18 were just under $8 million; SA Labor reported a total of $6.4 million.

Nationally, the records show the major banks and financial institutions gave almost three-quarters of a million dollars to the federal Liberal Party in 2017/18, and a similar amount to Labor.

The records, released on the same day the banking royal commission’s official report is being handed to the Coalition Government, show the ANZ donated $100,000, Westpac handed over $72,490, and the Commonwealth Bank supplied $68,400.

Accounting firm KPMG, which does significant amounts of government auditing and consulting work, donated $97,676, while Pricewaterhousecoopers donated $72,644. Deloitte added $29,645 and Ernest and Young chipped in $28,000.

All up, banks and financial services institutions gave the Liberal Party of Australia at least $733,555 in 2017/18, making up 13 per cent of total donations to the party in that financial year.

Many of the institutions donated similar amounts to Labor, with the federal ALP branch getting $703,086 from banks and financial companies.

ANZ donated $100,000 to Labor, Westpac gave $70,315, and the Commonwealth Bank $72,000.

Macquarie Group gave $71,400 to the Liberal Party and $71,185 to Labor.

Labor pulled in $11,543,515 overall, compared to the Liberals’ $5,642,463.

The banking royal commission uncovered serious misconduct in the financial sector, including dead people being charged for services.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will get the commission’s official report and recommendations on Friday, and will release it after the close of share trading on Monday afternoon.

– InDaily reporters with AAP

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