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LNP flush with funds, Labor goes cap in hand to corporates, households

Decision 2020

The Liberal National Party has raised more than $3 million since July 1, prompting Labor to look for more than just union funding.

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Official disclosures to the Electoral Commission of Queensland suggest the LNP has raised $3,038,019 this financial year, compared to Labor with $1,239,358, Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party with a notional $2,109,608, Katter’s Australian Party with $387,600, the Greens with $109,720, and Pauline Hanson’s One Nation with just $12,550.

While the LNP’s big donors were corporates, such as waste company J.J. Richards and charter boat operator Great Latitude, Labor relied on unions including United Voice and the CEPU, as well as consultancy giant KPMG, which has a contract to help the Palaszczuk Government manage the pandemic.

The Labor Party held a two-day ‘business observers’ function in August, inviting corporates to pay $5,500 per head to hear government speeches and meet with some ministers one-on-one. It is a controversial fundraising practice used by both sides of politics in government and long criticised by integrity experts.

Ministerial diaries, disclosed last week, indicate that at least five ministers took part in meetings with corporate donors, including Santos, the Pharmacy Guild and the Taxi Council. KPMG had a ministerial meeting the day of the event, although it was not clear in what capacity.

On Sunday, Labor sent supporters an email from Annastacia Palaszczuk, referring to one of several campaign ads now in circulation and asking for “your help to get the message out there”.

“Can you donate $14 and help us reach Queenslanders across the state with our positive message,” Palaszczuk asked in the email.
“With your help, we can keep delivering Queensland’s economic recovery plan and keep our state safe. At a time when Queensland is beginning to recover from COVID-19, we just can’t afford more LNP job cuts.”

After the Government pushed through campaign financing reforms, having previously banned donations from developers, Labor has sought to supplement its union funding with household contributions. The email included the note: “The LNP have their backers from the big end of town, but we’re proud to be building a new style of political campaigning in Queensland: funded by small donations from tens of thousands of passionate community members like you”.

Since August, campaign expenditure caps have been in place, set at $58,000 for candidates endorsed by a political party or $87,000 if independent, in addition to a cap on political parties of $92,000 per seat. That can be supplemented by external support, and it remains to be seen how the major parties will manage their campaigns in practice.

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