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Chinese businesswoman, Shoppies union top SA political donor lists

Politics

South Australia’s major political parties had starkly different major donors in the past financial year, with records released today showing the state’s dominant right-wing union bankrolled the Labor Party while a Chinese mining boss continued to be the Liberals’ key financial supporter.

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The data released by the Australian Electoral Commission show the SA branch of the Labor Party reported just over $2.1 million in total receipts during the 2016-17, but only had to reveal the origins of $345,654 of the total.

Under federal laws, political parties were only required to disclose receipts above the value of $13,200 during the reporting period.

Labor’s biggest single donor was the “Shoppies” union – the Shop Distributive Association SA Branch – which donated $150,000. Another union, United Voice, gave $85,409 while the party’s fundraising body, SA Progressive Business, provided $87,245.

The Liberals reported total receipts of just under $4.5 million for the year, declaring the origins of $1.4 million of that total.

Its major supporter, apart from the federal branch of the party gifting it $788,406, continued to be the AusGold Mining Group run by Chinese businesswoman Sally Zou. AusGold donated $316,064 – one of the largest donations to any party last year.

Frequent patrons Ian and Pam Wall of Springfield, the former the retired co-founder of Codan Electronics, each donated $105,000 to the Liberal cause, while Robert Stobbe, Accolade Wines, and the Scaffidi Group each donated $25,000.

The Australian Hotels Association gave two donations to the Liberals – one of $13,000 and a separate $25,000.

The Australian Conservatives, nationally, attracted just under $500,000, with the only declared contribution – $129,600 – coming from Family First, with which it has merged.

The SA Greens declared total receipts of just under $514,000, with the bulk of the amount coming from public funding via the Australian Electoral Commission and two donations from its local MLCs, Mark Parnell and Tammy Franks.

The only receipts declared by the Nick Xenophon Team in its total of $1.4 million were from the Australian Tax Office and public funding via the Australian Electoral Commission.

Xenophon told InDaily the federal branch of his party did not receive any reportable donations during the last financial year.

Nationally, the disclosure returns showed that federal Labor had returned more than $2000 to mining giant Adani – the Indian company behind a controversial coal mine proposal in Queensland. Two amounts of $1100 were returned to the mining company on January 18. The money appears to be payment for attendance at ALP events rather than a direct cash donation.

The disclosures confirmed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was the largest single donor to his federal party in the last financial year, handing over $1.75 million.

Roslyn Packer, the widow of Kerry Packer, also donated $500,000 to the Liberal party.

Overall, the Liberals, including Queensland’s Liberal National Party, received $95.1 million, while Labor pocketed just over $70 million.

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson mostly relied on taxpayer funding, rather than donations, to prop up her 2016 federal election campaign.

The disclosures show Pauline Hanson’s One Nation received $1.75 million in public funding, out of its total receipts of $2.2 million.

Candidates and parties receive $2.68 for every formal first preference vote, if they receive more than four per cent of the total vote in their electorate.

Tobacco company Philip Morris donated $20,000 to the Liberal Democratic Party and $15,000 to the National Party. Labor banned tobacco donations in 2004, while the Liberals followed suit in 2013.

Chinese billionaire Chau Chak Wing’s Hong Kong Kingson Investment donated $30,000 to Labor frontbencher Tony Burke’s campaign last May.

The Federal Government has drafted laws which will ban donations from foreign bank accounts, non-citizens and foreign entities to all types of political campaigning.

It says the changes will ensure only those with a meaningful connection to Australia can influence domestic politics and election campaigns.

New state electoral laws have been tightened to ensure party donations – including to SA Best, a separate entity from the Nick Xenophon Team – are regularly disclosed during the lead-up to polling day. Disclosures of donations made to the end of 2017 are to be published by the SA Electoral Commission within days.

– with AAP

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