The federal Coalition has come out on top in the donation stakes, with big businesses and wealthy individuals contributing more than $10 million to the party.
Most small businesses can’t spare hundreds of thousands of dollars to donate to their preferred political party, as cash flow concerns and rising business costs prevent extraneous expenses.
Big businesses, however, were willing contributors to the 2013 election, as corporates gave handouts to the Liberal and Labor parties in the lead up to last year’s election.
The Australian Hotels Association and Kerry Packer’s widow, Roslyn Packer, were the biggest donors.
Packer donated $580,000 to the Coalition, while the Victorian branch of the AHA donated more than $400,000.
Other major donors included Village Roadshow, which donated $315,004, and Pratt Holdings, which donated $250,000.
Had the election been judged on donations, rather than votes, the Liberal Party’s landslide victory would have been even more pronounced.
The Liberal Party secured more than double the donations of the Labor Party, with the Coalition receiving around $13 million and Labor recording under $5 million.
Westfield, Cabcharge Australia, Macquarie Group, Hancock Prospecting, NSW Clubs, Minara Resources and NAB all also contributed upwards of $100,000 to the Liberals.
Many of these businesses also contributed smaller amounts to the Labor Party, hedging their bets in case of a surprise victory.
Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting donated over $108,000 to the Coalition, but spent only half of this supporting Labor.
Woodside Energy gave approximately $50,000 less to the Labor Party and Macquarie Group donated around $62,000 less to Labor.
One outlier in the trend was Inghams Enterprises, which gave both major parties $250,000.
While the Labor Party found donations comparatively hard to come by in 2013, it found new support from a Chinese businessman, Huang Changran.
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Huang donated $150,000 of his own money to the New South Wales Labor Party, while his company Yuhu Group contributed donated a further $100,000.
Clive Palmer, despite running in the 2013 election, donated around $42,000 to the Liberal National Party, which he says came from his wife who attended a dinner with Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
Despite the major donations from the corporate world, the Coalition government has so far been strict on not supporting businesses in need of a bailout.
Last year GM Holden announced it would be closing its manufacturing division in Australia 2017, while in January the Coalition said it would not give SPC Ardmona the $25 million it had been asking for.