It's not money that makes the NT political world go round


p2350-wakefield-election-night-okBy ERWIN CHLANDA
Compared to the squillions needed in the USA to be a player in politics, campaign funding in the NT is positively modest.
According to the electoral returns for 2016/17 released last week the two main parties made do with a paltry million and a half each.
During that financial year there was a Federal election (July 2, 2016) and a Territory one (August 27, 2016).
The respective totals declared for 2016/17 were CLP $1.76m and ALP $1.59m but in fact they are closer than that.
The Country Liberal Party of the Northern Territory is a party in its own right and stands to collect “public funding” from the Australian Electoral Commission, calculated on the number of Federal votes it receives (that needs to be at least 4% of the vote).
This amounted to $188,800. The CLP, as a not for profit entity, also received a GST refund of $132,854.
These two corresponding amounts are missing – quite properly – from the declaration of the Australian Labor Party in the NT because it is a branch of the Australian Labor Party whose national body would be collecting that money.
The Federal ALP is likely to be the source of campaign services – staff, travel, advertising and so on.
This makes it more difficult to gauge the value of the support Labor in the NT received from its Federal mates. (We are putting that question to the party.)
Of course, the Federal Liberal Party also campaigned in the NT. What would have been the value of that?
On paper, “gifts in kind” – if they are worth more than $1500 – must be declared, for example, cars, use of office space, and so on.
So far as cash goes, the biggest donors to the ALP were N Bjelica ($60,000), SDA ($53,000 plus $10,931), Northern Developments, Northwake Pty Ltd, NT Kerbing and Randazzo C&G Developments ($50,000 each).
Randazzo C&G Developments and Randazzo Properties Pty Ltd also gave $55,000 each to the CLP.
The lion’s share of money for the CLP came from the Free Enterprise Foundation, $455,000, a national group based in NSW, according to Territory Director Brad Vermeer. $200,000 came from the Cormack Foundation in Victoria, an associated entity of the Liberal Party of Victoria.
There are no single donations of comparable size to the ALP; its funds were made up of multiple smaller donations.
The CLP in Alice Springs kicked in $51,076, the Darwin CLP $54,983 and Michael Crouch, a donor over many years who has now passed away, contributed $50,000.
Of the other contenders, 1 Territory received $54,416, Citizens Electoral Council nil, Shooters and Fishers $5000 and Greens, $10,346.
PHOTO: On 2016 NT election night, Warren Snowdon takes a well calculated guess that Dale Wakefield will knock off Adam Giles.


  1. “There are no single donations of comparable size to the ALP; its funds were made up of multiple smaller donations.”
    By coincidence, today’s The Herald Sun in Melbourne carried the news that the United Firefighters Union “campaigned aggressively” for the Labor party at the last election and is now the beneficiary of “tens of millions of taxpayers’ money” in a lavish new enterprise bargaining agreement approved by the Andrews government.
    This tends to reflect the historical differences between the traditional funding bases of the two major political parties that can be traced almost back to Federation.
    Labor has always had a solid funding base in the union movement, whereas the Libs, originally a get-together of independent members of Parliament, have had to rely on disparate donors.
    This has helped fuel the development of the “Workers v the Bosses” mantra in Aussie political ideology.
    China billionaires are now further blurring lines of demarcation between the two middle class parties by backing both horses for Chinese state interests. As the old folk song goes “The times they are a-changin”!


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