This Year’s Political Donations List Is Out And Surprise Surprise The Libs Got The Most


The list of political donations for the 2020-21 financial year has dropped and surprise surprise a metric shit-ton of money went to the Liberal Party.

The annual political disclosure returns report was released by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) on Tuesday, revealing the Liberal Party received $73.8 million in donations last financial year, Labor $67.3 million, the Greens $16 million and the Nationals $9 million.

Coming in fifth was the far-right Australian Citizens Party, set up by former One Nation senator Rodney Culleton. It received $2.3 million despite having no one in parliament.

The top 10 biggest donors mostly funded the Liberal Party and ring-wing lobby groups, with Labor and One Nation taking a couple of the biggest lump sums too.

The biggest individual donor was Australia’s fourth-richest person and Visy packaging and recycling chairman Anthony Pratt, who gave almost $1.3 million to the Liberal Party and $10,000 to Labor’s NSW branch. 

The second and third biggest donations went to right-wing lobby group Advance Australia through two investment companies: Silver River Investment Holdings Pty Ltd and Cartwright Investment Corp Pty Ltd, giving a combined total of more than $1 million.

Next was the National Automotive Leasing and Salary Packaging Association, which gave $150,000 each to the Labor and Liberal parties.

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia also gave $295,000 roughly evenly split between Labor and Liberal branches.

Sportsbet donated $143,000, with two-thirds going to Liberal and the rest going to Labor, building on their contributions dramatically over the last decade. 

These donations are big, but the disclosure threshold amount from 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021 was $14,300. Meaning any donations smaller than this don’t need to be declared by the donor.

That figure has steadily increased since 2005 when the laws changed to streamline the process and give the AEC less paperwork.

But as a result, Guardian Australia revealed last year that 35 per cent of donations, or about $1 billion, came from unknown sources between 1999 and 2019.

Basically donors could be drip-feeding money to political parties in small sums and we wouldn’t know who they were. So much for transparency. 

In 2020-21 only about 80 per cent of the Liberal Party’s donations are disclosed, while Labor disclosed about 90 per cent, meaning we don’t know where millions of dollars came from.

And with this being an election year no doubt the figures in the next report will be a hell of a lot bigger.

Nine Entertainment Co, which owns Pedestrian Group, also made a $27,500 donation to the Liberal Party in the 2020-21 financial year.

But a Nine spokesperson said the payment to the Liberal’s Australian Business Network was made under previous management when Nine was also a member of the Federal Labor Business Forum.

“Nine has since implemented a blanket rule against donating to politically affiliated business networks,” they said.

Nine’s managing director of publishing James Chessell, who was appointed in July 2021, confirmed Nine would no longer be involved in political business networks.