$50 million in secret political donations
Of the $170 million in political party revenue in the last fiscal year, the source of $49.55 million is undisclosed.
The annual measure peaked in 2018-19, before the last federal election, at $114.2 million.
“The last election set records for money raised and money hidden,” Mr Whealy said. “Reform is needed now so that the financing of the next elections is transparent.
“Most states have a disclosure threshold of $1,000. The Commonwealth disclosure threshold of $14,300 is irrelevant.
“There is little analysis or enforcement to ensure donation returns are complete. The AEC needs more resources and expertise to make our disclosure system work properly.
The former NSW Supreme Court justice and deputy commissioner of the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption is leading calls for a series of reforms to political donation laws, including a $1,000 reporting threshold and disclosures in real time.
According to the proposals put forward by the center, there is an expansion of the definition of political donations to include income from party fundraisers, corporate sponsorship and business forums, certain membership fees and gifts spent on expenses elections.
Labor and Greens both support a $1,000 reporting threshold, but there appears to be little appetite for immediate changes through the current Federal Parliament. Tasmanian Independent Jacqui Lambie wants the source of unknown gifts to be revealed.
The center previously revealed that resource companies have made political donations worth almost $140 million over two decades, making them the largest source of cash for political parties.
The real estate industry was the source of $54.2 million in donations over the same period, with the Liberals taking about twice as much as Labour.
This month’s AEC donations revelations show billionaire businessman Clive Palmer was Australia’s biggest political donor again last year, spending $5.9 million to fund his United Australia Party in the Queensland state elections.
Visy mogul and Financial Review Rich Lister Anthony Pratt donated $1.3 million to the Liberal Party through his Pratt Holdings, as well as $250,000 to the Nationals.
Advertising industry figure Harold Mitchell said wealthy donors evaded disclosure rules by donating through companies set up to fund parties.
“You could pass it through one of their weirdos and nobody would know,” he said. The Australian Financial Review. “You can donate and your name disappears.”
The Coalition received a total of $59 million in donations in the latest disclosures, ahead of Labor with more than $50 million during the period. The Greens received around $19 million.