Chinese-linked company among political donations but Turnbull funds still not revealed


The AEC has released its latest financial disclosure report - but Australia will have to wait another 12 months for Malcolm Turnbull's financial commitments to the Liberal Party to be revealed.

Chinese-linked company Hong Kong Kingson Investment Limited was the second-largest disclosed political donor in 2015-16, the Australian Electoral Commission's annual disclosure report reveals.

The company pledged $860,000 to Australian political parties, including more than $700,000 to the Liberal Party.

The annual financial disclosure returns, released today, comes a day after Labor leader Bill Shorten promised to “clamp down” on foreign donations.

The US, UK and Canada have all banned foreign political pledges.

“If the Government continues to drag its feet, Labor will use parliament to crack the whip,” he told the National Press Club on Tuesday.

Hong Kong Kingson Investment Ltd is listed with a Hong Kong address and owned by billionaire Chau Chak Wing, an Australian citizen, who has poured millions into both Liberal and Labor party coffers over the past decade.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s widely speculated million-dollar-plus donation to the Liberal Party during last year’s election campaign will not be officially revealed to Australians for another 12 months.

The Australian Electoral Commission released financial disclosure returns for 2015-16 on Wednesday, however, any political donations made the day before, or after, the July 2 poll were not included.

This includes any donation by Mr Turnbull - which some speculated at being as high as $2 million - to prop up Liberal Party coffers during last year’s election campaign.

"My donations to the Liberal Party have been regular and generous and I would encourage others to do the same," Mr Turnbull told the National Press Club on Wednesday.

Mr Turnbull has never denied he contributed significantly to the funding of his election campaign.

"They've always been disclosed in accordance with the law."

At least three Turnbull government ministers propped up Liberal Party coffers by close to $100,000 in the lead up to the last July's poll. 

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton donated $50,000, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, $29,000, and Education Minister Simon Birmingham offered up $20,000.

In September, Mr Turnbull said he was open to addressing foreign donations: "It is a very complex issue, however, and it is something that the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters should look at very carefully."

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten yesterday said it was “tricky” and “shifty” and the prime minister owes it to Australians to do better than the “bare minimum”.

“If 210 days of avoiding scrutiny is within the rules, then the rules are just wrong,” the Labor leader said.

The Liberal Party received $14,708,730 in donations in 2015-16, according to party disclosures published today by the Australian Electoral Commission.

The Labor Party received $10,359,930 over the same period.

Parties are only required to disclose donations of more than $13,000, although Labor has campaigned to reduce the threshold to $1000. For the current period, they have lodged more than 500 donations below the $13,000 threshold worth almost $2 million.

Millions of dollars in donations are likely to have escaped reporting for the 2015-16 period, based on a comparison with donations at the last election.

The 2013 election was held in September. More than $20 million in donations to the Liberal Party were reported in the 2013-14 year, in addition to more than $13 million in the preceding period.

Labor’s tally for 2013-14 exceeds their reported donations for the 2015-16 period.

Although the prime minister’s donations were not recorded, many others did disclose.

Paul Marks made a $1.3 million pledge to the Liberal Party at the start of the year, when Tony Abbott was still prime minister.

Hong Kong Kingson Investment Ltd pledged $150,000 to Labor and $710,000 to Liberal.

Pratt Holdings, the company linked to Visy and the family of the late businessmen Richard Pratt, gave $850,000, mostly to the Liberal Party.

Graeme Wood gave $636,000 mostly to the Greens, although he also pledged $6000 to Labor in Queensland.

Another large Greens donor, Duncan Turpie, provided $500,000.

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