Corporations and unions bolstered the coffers of the Liberal and Labor parties ahead of the 2013 election to the tune of $16.6 million.
Donors swung their weight behind the Liberals just before the 2013 federal election, giving the party four times more than Labor received.
The Liberal Party received $13 million in declared donations in 2012/13 – compared to Labor’s $3.6 million, the Australian Electoral Commission reported on Monday.
Labor’s declared donations from unions totalled just over $556,000, but unions contributed more using other means, including fees for attending events, campaign spending and funding opinion polls.
Taking into account all types of contributions, the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union, which is facing questions over alleged misconduct and corruption, contributed $600,000 to Labor’s state and national divisions over the period.
Ros Packer, widow of the late media magnate Kerry and mother to businessman James Packer, was the single biggest political donor in the 2012/2013 financial year, giving $570,000 to the Liberals.
Tobacco company Philip Morris donated a total of $107,040 to the Liberal and National parties during 2012/13.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced during the September 2013 election campaign that his party would no longer take tobacco industry donations.
Labor stopped taking tobacco industry donations in 2004 and at the election promised to ban such donations by law.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the tobacco donations undermined the government’s credibility.
“What is the point of the Abbott government having a health budget when their own political party takes tobacco donations?” Mr Shorten said.
Billionaire Clive Palmer is noted as having given the Liberal National Party $42,000 in June – seven months after he quit the party and a month after applying to register his Palmer United Party.
He said his wife had attended a dinner with Mr Abbott and made the donation.
The Australian Greens received only $530,000 in declared donations.
Greens spokeswoman Senator Lee Rhiannon said the surge in corporation donations was not healthy for democracy.
Total receipts for the Australian Labor Party – including fees, investments, rents, donations and other payments – came to $54.8 million for 2012/13, with the Liberals receiving $73.1 million.
Employment Minister Eric Abetz said Mr Shorten faced a test of leadership over union donations to his party.
“He must distance Labor from the CFMEU, by refusing their funding, and he must support coalition legislation to restore the Australian Building and Construction Commission which the Labor-Greens alliance is currently delaying in the Senate,” he said.
Senator Abetz said the CFMEU had provided almost $10 million to the ALP since 2000.