Thursday, February 02, 2012

Digging deep - the miners versus the unions versus Wotif

Mining companies and mining industry associations spent in excess of $8 million on political campaigning during the election year of 2010-11, much of it donated direct to the Liberal and National parties.

The spending, revealed yesterday by the Australian Electoral Commission, comes on top of $22 million spent the previous financial year on donations and campaigning against the proposed resource super profits tax.

The Minerals Council of Australia and the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies spent just over $5 million on what the electoral commission defined as the “broadcast of political matter”.

They spent another $1 million on the printing, production and publication of political material.

Heading the mining donors was Queensland magnate Clive Palmer whose companies sent $959,000 to the Liberal and National parties. Queensland Nickel was the largest individual donor to the Liberal party, contributing $500,000.

The AEC figures appear to show no mining dollars going to Labor.

The tobacco industry was similarly one-sided, although in its case that was because Labor has stopped accepting its donations... British American Tobacco and Philip Morris sent a combined $264,000 to Coalition parties, much of it in small parcels, the most intriguing of which was a donation of $999 to the South Australian Liberal Party.

The Alliance of Australian Retailers, itself funded by Philip Morris, Imperial Tobacco and British American Tobacco, spent $9 million on political advertising advertising. Imperial Tobacco and Phillip Morris spent another $4.7 million.

Attorney General and former health minister Nicola Roxon challenged opposition leader Tony Abbott to declare when parliament returns that the coalition will no longer accept donations from big tobacco.

Pubs and clubs spent almost $2 million as they launched a campaign against poker machine reforms. The Coalition received the bulk of the funds, but the Labor Party was supported too, although the size of the donations was smaller.

Some donors were near impeccably even handed. The movie maker and cinema operator Village Roadshow donated $352,336 to the Labor Party, becoming its biggest single donor. It sent $327,788 to the Liberal Party.

The National Australia Bank sent $166,738 to Labor and $172,000 to the Coalition. Westpac sent about $55,000 to each.

Manildra Group, an ethanol producer, donated $238,800 to Labor and $335,300 to the Coalition.

The Greens scored the biggest single donation - $1.47 million from Graeme Wood, the founder of the Wotif hotel reservations service.

Among the largest donors to Labor were the Electrical Trades Union ($330,914) and Hong Kong Kingson Investments run by Chinese property developer Chau Chak Wing ($250,000).

Labor raised $92 million in 2010-11, the Liberals $98 million, and the Nationals $14 million. The Greens raised $13 million.

Each party went deeper into debt to fund the election. Labor’s debt blew out from $11.8 million to $15.8 million. The Liberals’ debt grew from $11.8 million to $15.5 million, the Nationals’ debt from $1 million to $2.9 million and the Greens debt from $460,000 to $831,000.

In today's Sydney Morning Herald and Age

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