Liberals handed back $33,800 from Lebanon-based firm, political donation disclosures show

Clive Palmer’s Mineralogy gave $5.9m to his United Australia party in 2019-20

The Liberals handed back a $33,800 donation from the Lebanon-based engineering firm Dar Al Handasah but pocketed a total of $203,000 from the Chinese businesswoman Sally Zou’s Transcendent Australia.

The donations are revealed in the 2019-20 political donation disclosures, released by the Australian Electoral Commission on Monday.

The major parties declared less money received in 2019-20 compared with 2018-19, which included the 2019 election.

As a group, the various branches of the Liberal party together declared $57m in donations and “other receipts”, while the Labor party declared $55m. This is down from $165m for the Liberals in 2018-19, and $126m for Labor in 2018-19.

The equivalent figures for the Nationals and Greens were $12.4m and $19.1m respectively.

The disclosures reveal that Clive Palmer’s Mineralogy Pty Ltd donated $5.9m to his United Australia party, on top of $83.3m given by his company the previous financial year.

The Nationals also declared $75,000 from Mineralogy although Mineralogy did not disclose the donation on its return.

Anthony Pratt’s Pratt Holdings gave $1.55m of donations to the Coalition, with $1.3m to the Liberals and $250,000 to the Nationals.

The Liberal party disclosed that on 11 November 2019 it received $33,800 from Dar Al Handasah, but handed the donation back on 28 November 2019.

Guardian Australia understands the money was returned as it was judged a foreign donation, which were banned in 2018. Dar Al Handasah did not submit a return.

political donations treemap

Dar Al Handasah’ parent company, Dar Group, made a bid to take over Australian industrial engineering company WorleyParsons in October 2019.

Worley aggressively rejected the bid, including by alleging that the Saudi energy minister had warned the then-defence minister, Christopher Pyne, that Dar Group was involved in bribery and corruption. The group rejected that allegation outright and the ABC has reported that Worley did not provide evidence for the claim and Pyne did not believe it.

Transcendent Australia gave three donations to the Liberal party in December 2019 totalling $203,000, mostly through its South Australian division.

Transcendent Australia was registered by Zou in June 2019 and she remains a director. Zou is a longstanding donor to the Liberal party; her company Aus Gold Mining collapsed, reportedly owing creditors including Zou $42m.

A spokesperson for Transcendent Australia said it was a private company with investments in mining, energy, technology and the agricultural sector.

“Aus Gold Mining has settled with all its creditors.

“Transcendent Australia complies with all the requirements of the Electoral Act.”

Nine Entertainment, which landed in hot water for throwing a $10,000-a-head fundraiser for the Liberal party, declared $90,400 in political donations. Of that, $62,906 went to the Liberals, including the fundraiser disclosed as a “gift” in kind of $35,400 on 2 September 2019.

Woodside Energy Ltd donated a total of $335,400 including $137,500 to Labor and $197,750 to the Coalition.

The Minerals Council of Australia paid a total of $145,700 including $27,500 for membership of the Liberals’ Australian Business Network, $22,000 for the Nationals policy forum and two payments totalling $55,000 for the Federal Labor Business forum.

The Australian Hotels Association NSW donated $232,000, including $186,000 to Labor and $46,000 to the Coalition.

Other significant corporate donations included:

  • Macquarie Group donated $250,000 including $138,000 to the Coalition and $112,000 to Labor

  • ANZ donated $200,000, split evenly between Labor and the Liberals

  • Wesfarmers donated $221,100, with $110,000 to both the Liberal and Labor parties

  • The tobacco giant Philip Morris donated $55,000 to the National party

The professional gambler Duncan Turpie donated $150,000 to the Greens through their Queensland ($100,000) and federal ($50,000) branches. The Greens Western Australian branch also received $105,000 from Chilla Bulbeck.

The conservative lobby group Advance Australia received $150,000 from the Burleigh Trust.


Paul Karp and Nick Evershed

The GuardianTramp

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