Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Party donation returns

Party donation returns have been released by the Electoral Commission. From the summary, National took in $2.57 million, twice as much as its nearest competitor, which was ACT, and more than twice as much as the left combined (no surprises there). That staggering figure included more than $700,000 in declared donations, from companies and wealthy individuals. I wonder what they'll be demanding in exchange?

The Greens took in more than $180,000 in declared donations - but looking at their return [PDF], most of that was from their MP's. Significantly, they accepted $20,000 from Fletcher Building, who donated the same amount to every significant party. Fletcher's would no doubt call this "supporting democracy", but it may be compromising for the Greens.

(Sadly, the Greens did not take the moral high ground on electoral finance, and declare everything down to $1,000 to shame the other parties and make them look dirty. A lost opportunity IMHO).

Labour's campaign was largely funded by the unions (most notably the EPMU), but they also took $50,000 from Todd Corporation (who made an equal donation to National), $20,000 from Fletcher's, $30,000 from painter Cao Jun, and $20,000 from the Road Transport Trust.

ACT was largely funded by rich individuals such as Alan Gibbs and Louis Crimp, as well as John Banks, Don Brash, and John Boscawen.

National, OTOH, is awash with corporate money, from Gallagher Group, CitiGroup, Oravida, Fletcher's and Todd Corp. There are a few wealthy individuals, including Natural Dairy's Susan Chou, and Wellington hotel owner Chris Parkin. But its mostly big business.

This year parties were also required to give a breakdown of donations in bands, giving the number and total for donations between $1,500 and $5,000; between $5,000 and $15,000, and various other categories (such as the corrupt "donations protected from disclosure" mechanism, overseas donations, and small anonymous donations). Here's a graph showing the proportions of each for each party declaring over $100,000:


The Greens were the clear winners on small donations, and its even more impressive when you remember that their declared donors were their MP's tithing their salaries. ACT OTOH doesn't seem to have much of a grassroots at all. But maybe Alan Gibbs thinks he can buy them one.