THE Australian Greens Party has attracted a significant contribution from a federal government department, while Katter’s Australian Party has attracted a combination of media moguls and shooting organisations as their core political benefactors according to data released by the Australian Electoral Commission earlier this week.
The data registers significant donations throughout the 2011-2012 financial year for all registered political parties in Australia. As the 2011-2012 period was not an election year, aside from the state election in Queensland, the data can provide indication of which individuals and organisations may be considered stalwart supporters of specific political parties.
The Australian Greens Party registered a $110 000 payment from federal government agency AusAID, tasked with spending Australia’s aid budget and providing humanitarian assistance throughout the global community. This payment reflects the partnership between AusAID and the Australian Greens Party through the Australian Political Parties for Democracy Program (APPDP).
In an arrangement agreed to in 2012, AusAID will provide the Australian Greens Party with annual funding in order to promote the development of democratic political systems in nations where they do not presently exist. Under the APPDP grant agreement AusAID will provide up to $600 000 to the Australian Greens Party over three years to maintain the program in collaboration with established international aid agencies.
The recently established Katter’s Australian Party registered a total of $1 million in donations over the 2011-2012 financial year, in a period which saw them emerge as a legitimate political entity with their strong performance at the 2012 Queensland election. The party, formed in June 2011, won two seats in the Queensland parliament and later attracted disaffected government MP Ray Hopper to join their ranks.
Donations to Katter’s Australian Party came from a wide range of sources, including a $250 000 contribution by media mogul James Packer shortly before the Queensland state election which provided a crucial boost to the party’s ability to campaign effectively. The payment was made through Packer’s company Treystar Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of Consolidated Press Holdings.
Katter’s Australian Party founder, maverick federal MP Bob Katter, said: “The Packers have always been our people. James’s grandfather started business with, and was a close friend of, one of my greatest heroes, Red Ted Theodore. They were great supporters of the labour movement … in the late 1800s. There is no surprise to have this support for our patriotic line of defending Australia and Australian industry.”
Packer was not the only media mogul that contributed to Katter’s Australian Party in the 2011-2012 period, with advertising magnate John Singleton donating $50 000 to the party’s campaign war chest. Katter’s Australian Party also attracted significant contributions from interest groups such as Sporting Shooters of Australia and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union.
Donations to the major parties were down in 2011-2012 with their combined political contributions reduced from $187 million to $104 million. Labor attracted support from traditional donors such as the unions and Chinese investors, while the Coalition gained much of their financial support from ‘high-wealth’ individuals like mining baron Clive Palmer.