MINERS, poker machine owners, lobby groups and big industry poured millions into the coffers of the nation's political parties in 2011-12, despite a drop in donations in a non-election year.
In its annual disclosure returns released on Friday, the Australian Electoral Commission revealed the identity of often unknown people who funnel cash into the political parties' pockets.
Some of those faces were well-known to the public, such as Clive Palmer and Gina Rinehart, but also lesser known groups, like the nation's Pharmacy Guild, movie giant Village Roadshow and the hotels and pokies industry.
Donations to all parties feel by almost half between the 2010-11 and 2011-12 financial years, with donations to the Australian Labor Party falling from about $83 million in 2010-11 to about $49 million in 2011-12.
The cash paid to the conservative parties also fell markedly, with the Liberal Party's receipts dropping from a leading $104 million to $55 million, and the Nationals' take dropping from $14 million to about $8 million in 2011-12.
The far-left Greens party also fell during the non-election year, down from more than $13 million in 2010-11 to just shy of $8 million in total receipts from 2011-12.
At a Federal level, tobacco giants Philip Morris and British American Tobacco each paid the conservatives more than $2000, while the ALP came up empty-handed.
However, Woolworths' subsidiary ALH, which owns hundred of poker machine licences around the country, coughed up more than $14,000 for the Victorian ALP branch.
The hotel lobby, similarly, paid the Federal Liberal Party $250,000 in official donations, with another $55,000 handed over in "other" payments.
Casino powerhouse Crown Ltd handed out more than $130,000 to various branches of both the Liberal and ALP, and CUB (formerly Carlton United Brewery) paid each side of politics more than $11,000 in 2011-12.
Minority party the Australian Greens garnered just $15,500 in official donations, from New South Wales man Richard Stiles, with the remainder of their funds listed as "other receipts" from each state branch of the party.
In the Greens' state branch returns, more donations were listed or smaller amounts, but the total income the party declared with still just more than $750,000.
In Queensland, with then Premier-to-be Campbell Newman at the helm, the LNP garnered donations from numerous mining companies, including a generous $99,000 payment from Linc Energy.
The Sunshine State's conservative force also received payments from Origin Energy, of more than $14,000, United Petroleum $25,000 and Village Roadshow $75,000.
Australia's richest woman Gina Rinehart's Hancock Coal paid the ALP $5500 and found a bit more for the Liberal Party, donating $22,000 to that party.
The ALP also got a $92,500 payment from Lion, the giant of the alcohol and beverage industry; while Clubs New South Wales put more than $45,000 in the ALP's coffers and a further $62,100 in the Liberal Party's account and $24,000 in the Nationals' account.
Gas giant Santos also sent out a few donations, of $50,000 to the Liberal party and more than $24,000 to the LNP in Queensland.
While total receipts covers all of the money that passed through the political parties' coffers during 2011-12, it gives the full picture of donations, gifts and investments both given to the parties, as well as loans.
Under the AEC's rules, gifts, loans, which may not need to be repaid, and other payments made to the parties are not specifically reported, only under the subject of "other".
Only reported donations - those other the $11,900 threshold - must be reported.
However, as it has done in recent years, the ALP reported its donations of $1000 or more, while the conservative parties again reported only those which the law demands.
While most political donors only report the amounts, they are allowed to describe what the payments were for, and one particular lobby group did.
The Property Council of Australia's return revealed it paid $5500 to the ALP for a "boardroom dinner with Prime Minister Julia Gillard".
Similarly, the real estate industry lobby paid some $1750 for a briefing with the PM, and some $1980 to join Workplace Minister Bill Shorten for dinner.
The PCA also paid $600 to attend a cocktail party with then Queensland Treasurer Andrew Fraser, just weeks before he was voted out during the LNP's landslide victory.
In the PCA return, a similar insight was given into the LNP's election drive, with the lobby group paying $2000, attributed to a Done Doing Can Do Dinner.
The PCA also paid the Victorian Liberal Party $1450 for a dinner with Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.
Political donation highlights 2011-12:
- James Packer's Crown Ltd donated $130,000 to both the ALP and LNP
- Gina Rinehart's Hancock Coal paid the ALP $5500 and the Liberal Party $22,000
- Qld gas giant Santos paid the Liberal Party $50,000 and the LNP $24,000
- Alcohol group Lion paid the ALP $92,500
- The Property Council of Australia paid $5500 for dinner with Prime Minister Julia Gillard
SOURCE: Australian Electoral Commission.
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