Aussie politics a billion-dollar business

The Australian Electoral Commission has released details of political donations for 2017/18.
The Australian Electoral Commission has released details of political donations for 2017/18.

Australian politics is now a billion-dollar business with donations from big banks, cigarette companies, unions and private donors filling political parties' coffers.

Newly-released financial records show the major parties raked in more than $154 million in political donations, returns on investments and asset sales in 2017/18.

The Australian Electoral Commission figures, released on Friday, also showed political parties' associated entities lodged results of $926 million.

West Australian Greens convenor Chilla Bulbeck was the largest individual political donor last year, gifting almost $600,000 to the minor party.

The Liberal Party declared $62.8 million in receipts while Labor chalked up $60 million.

The Greens declared $12.9 million in receipts, ahead of the Nationals on $8.2 million.

The records, which were released on the same day the government received the banking royal commission's major report, revealed banks and financial institutions donated $733,555 to the federal Liberal Party and $703,086 to Labor.

"They give money to both parties. It's a free country," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said when asked about the banks' largesse on Friday.

ANZ donated $100,000 to both Labor and the Liberals, Westpac handed over $72,490 to the Liberals and $70,315 to Labor, while the Commonwealth Bank supplied $68,400 to the Liberals and $72,000 to Labor.

Macquarie Group gave $71,400 to the Liberal Party and $71,185 to Labor.

Federal political donations were predictably down after the 2016 general election but the numbers offer insight into donations during a swag of by-elections.

Labor's donation receipts included significant union donations, including $1.1 million from the Electrical Trades Union.

"I see today that the CFMMEU gave Bill Shorten another million dollars. How long will Bill Shorten take the thug money from militant unions?" Mr Morrison said.

Records show the various CFMMEU branches gave at least $881,000 to Labor's state and federal branches in 2017/18.

Controversial coal developer Adani gave a total of $50,000 to One Nation and the Liberal Party over the past year.

The Pauline Hanson's One Nation disclosure, which came to a total of $1.7 million, described the $15,000 amount from Adani as "other receipt".

But the ACT Liberals denied getting the listed $35,000 from Adani.

"We did not receive any donations from the company in question and our disclosure shows that the overwhelming majority of donations to the Canberra Liberals are from local individuals and businesses," a party spokeswoman told AAP.

The Nationals received $56,500 from tobacco giant Phillip Morris, while the Liberal Democrats were given almost $100,000. The other major parties refuse to accept tobacco donations.

Australian Associated Press