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Political Donations and Brown Paper Bags – spot the difference!

Zali Steggall has been a target of the Liberal Party ever since she dared topple Tony Abbott, in the 2019 election, in the seat of Warringah.

So, it now seems there has been a political hit on Steggall over electoral donations she received from the KInghorn Family Trust which had donated $100,000 to Steggall’s campaign. This donation was in one cheque but represented pledges of $12,500 each on behalf of eight members of the family trust.

The eight separate donations at $12,500 fell below the disclosure threshold but the AEC quite correctly noted that the payment by a single cheque exceeded the threshold and required further disclosure: this disclosure was corrected by Steggall in February 2021.

The threshold for donations requiring disclosure at that time was $13,800 since then it has been increased by indexation to $14,500. The system at the federal level was running quite well with a disclosure threshold of just $1500 until 2006 when John Howard decided that was too low and increased it to “more than $10,000” with annual indexation : that’s when the rot set in and neither party has been prepared to address the growing problem since.

This practice of donation splitting, when payments are divided into smaller amounts so that large payments can be kept under the disclosure threshold, has been widely adopted by all political parties and is still quite common and legal. Where Steggall came undone was that the established political parties are alert to the need to keep the individual donations under the threshold ; that’s why they are calling Steggall’s blunder a rookie mistake.

So, in effect nothing illegal has occurred and when the oversight was brought to the independent member for Warringah’s attention, it was corrected.

Does it warrant a media hit? I don’t think so but there is no doubt that the whole of the regulatory system governing political donations badly needs to be overhauled. When you consider that just $17.9 million worth of individual donations were declared for the 2020 – 2021 year compared with the almost $177 million received by parties you would be forgiven if you thought that the disclosure regime was better described as a non-disclosure scheme.

Personally, Steggall’s oversight doesn’t concern me but I am far more concerned that our former Attorney General, Christian Porter, was able to receive and conceal an anonymous donation said to be in the order of a million dollars. In Porter’s case he threw a legal doona over the donation by calling it the proceeds of a blind trust and thus he could not reveal either the source of the funds or the donor – all legal according to him, wink wink, nudge nudge !

Not to mention the potential for disruption to our democracy, not from overseas interests as Peter Dutton would have us believe, but closer to home in the form of Clive Frederick Palmer who spent $60 million in the lead up to the 2019 election without much of a return on his money. But he threatens to spend even more this time around and may well be able to insert one or more of his stooges into the senate: that’s what ASIO are worried about and we should be too.


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  1. Henry Rodrigues

    Dead cats, red herrings, bullshit and crap. that’s what the coalition will be dragging through the election campaign, no new ideas no apologies for past mistakes.

    Has anyone discovered where the $1m for the nice Mr Christian Porter from WA, came from ? Here’s a clue, a mining magnate, a flamboyant billionaire given to extravagant stunts, practicing dance steps with Scummo and who also calls WA his home ?

  2. Keitha Granville

    in Question Time today the Treasurer again referred to the $100k to Zali Steggall.
    Disgraceful, disgusting.

  3. Max Gross

    Swimming with sharks…

  4. New England Cocky

    Funny how those guilty of fraud & corruption will use any means to distract the voting public from their agenda of re-election so that they may continue rippi9ng off Australian voters.

    If the Liarbrals or even the Nazional$ were serious about control of ”political donations” aka ”political bribes” they would immediately pass legislation requiring 24/7/365 public notification of all donations above $1,000 on the AEC website page.

    Zali Steggall is being bullied by the Lazy Nasty Party for being a successful INDEPENDENT Member of Parliament representing the best interest of the electorate that elected her, rather than a puppet of the paedophile priests, American media owners and corporate executives.

  5. Mark Shields

    We are utterly fooling ourselves if we don’t accept that our Democracy is For Sale and open to the highest bidder. All political donations should be banned and campaign advertising limited to a quota of time-limited TV, Text Only Statements; supervised by an independent Electoral Authority. Only then can a level playing field be realised. These groups would benefit from your thoughts:

  6. Williambtm

    Australia’s Electoral Commission has never been audited, despite it being a hugely important federal government department that carries enormous responsibility to do its job right. Think back to the 2019 election?
    Yep, the election the Liberals had as good as given up the prospect of their retaining the leadership government party, yet they had just squeaked in at the last moment.

    Australia’s Electoral Commission is not keeping a sharp eye open to out-of-Australia donations.

    American HQ corporations that have a branch in Australia have to be treated with suspicion, don’t think that the Liberals would try to pursue such matters.

    I am unable to accept that a lying, cheating, misleading, deceptive, bunch of self-serving sniggering persons can be labelled as a political party.
    A criminal party would be the appropriate term to describe the collective odious shysters serving in the Lib/Nat coalition party.

    How much faith or even trust can be attributed to Angus (rubber boots) Taylor, Barnaby (beet-rooter) Joyce, Alan (of course-I-tell-the-truth) Tudge, Michaela (practitioner of stealth) Cash (forget rodent Scomo) Peter (let’s invade China) Dutton, Josh (Gold slippered) Frydenberg, Richard (I think I’ll have a snooze) Colbeck, Marise (Cricket-screen) Payne, that’ll do for now, I say no faith at all?

  7. LambsFry Simplex.

    Snippets of news rthat escaped the cull, some ivolving Piotr and some really BIG rorts.

    Funny the ABC hasn’t reported it, I suppose it is too busy with McCarthyism. .

  8. Marcus Champ

    Could we please stop suggesting Clive got little return on his $60 million or so…its patently not true. He got exactly what he wanted: subvert democracy; stop ALP; and coal mines. He succeeded spectacularly and will try again as it worked so well last time. Personally I don’t think he will be anywhere near as successful this time as he was last time, but the fact he is allowed to keep doing it is a travesty.

  9. wam

    Come on, 8 lots of $12500, is a rort. $100000 is honest.
    ps Marcus without boobby, palmer would have got the nothing that he got.
    He is trying, still, with front page daily adverts in our paper.

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