The gambling lobby in Australia donated over $500,000 to liberals just before the Tasmanian elections, but the details of the donations could only be revealed after 11 months. The donations were rooted to help defeat the Tasmanian Labor party, which intended to remove poker machines from the pubs and clubs of the states.
The slow data processing regime means that the sources of donations could only be released this Friday morning. The usual donors, like insurance companies, mining companies, and energy companies featured once again on the list. The biggest individual donor was Chilla Bulbeck from West Australian Greens who donated $600,000 to her party. Liberal fundraising entity Vapold Pty Ltd. donated $2.3 million. Labor’s largest donation came from Electrical Trades Union who gave $940,000.
ANZ Bank donated $500,000 to both Liberals and Labor while there were questions being flagged about the royal commission. The mining and resources industry also made significant contributions to both parties, including a $50,000 donation from Adani to One Nation and Liberals.
Philip Morris, the tobacco giant, is also looking for overhaul the vaping ban for which it donated $56,500 to the Nationals and $40,000 to Liberal Democrats. Interestingly, the latest disclosures reveal that the gambling and hospitality industry gave at least $514,00 to the Liberals in 2017-18. Of this, $160,000 came from the Tasmanian Hospitality Association. Groups with gaming interests like Jonod, Federal Group, Kalis Hospitality, and EBC Leisure donated $244,000.
The Liberals received over half of the dark money in political funding. The Nationals have received 43.6% and federal Labor 1/3rd of their total funding from this dark money whose sources are hidden from the public. The Liberals ran the most expensive election campaign in Tasmania’s history from this funding, believe the analysts.
There are still many discrepancies between the disclosures of Liberals and the industry. The Tasmania Hospitality Association claims to have donated $270,000 to the Liberals while their filings only show $160,000. This discrepancy exists because the association exploited a loophole in the system. Just days before the election, the Liberals received a series of $10,000 donations which are exempt from disclosures.
Only donations above $13,500 need to be disclosed by parties in Tasmania. However, in NSW, Victoria, and Queensland, the threshold has now been reduced to $1,000.
According to Danielle Wood, researcher and donations expert at the Grattan Institute, Tasmania is a case study for the shortcomings of the Australian donations’ transparency. Wood said that it is unacceptable that one industry was donating significant funds to the election campaigns and the voters are only getting to know about it one and a half year later.