The Australian Hotels Association, Westfield and Woodside Energy are some of the biggest donors to Australian political parties, released returns for the past financial year show.
The AHA gave $250,000 to the federal Liberal Party, while Woodside Energy stumped up $100,000 for the Liberals and $110,000 for the Labor Party, the electoral funding disclosures published by the Australian Electoral Commission today show.
Westfield Group gave $150,000 to the national secretariat of the ALP and Westfield Limited gave $150,000 to the Liberal Party.
Investment firms also donated generously to the Liberal Party, with Paul Ramsay Holdings giving $500,000 and Washington H. Soul Pattinson giving $200,000.
The big four banks also donated generously. ANZ donated $80,000 each to the Labor and Liberal parties, while the National Australia Bank gave $131,038 to the state and federal Liberal parties and $68,400 to federal Labor.
Westpac donated between $50,000 and $60,000 to the federal branches of both parties, and also made individual donations to the state parties.
The top individual donors included Russell Aboud, an independent non-executive director of the ASX, who gave the Liberal party $100,000.
Queensland mining identity Ian McCauley gave $84,000 to the Liberal National Party in Queensland, as prospector Mark Creasy donated the same amount to the federal Liberal Party.
Shareholder activist Stephen Mayne said it was less common for public companies to donate nowadays, partly because of the Australian Shareholders' Association's opposition to political donations.
"This year has been a bit of a down year in terms of donations," Mr Mayne said.
"Notable absentees include the Pratt family. There’s a lot less from Clive Palmer. And even Labor’s reliance on property developers has reduced following a few scandals in NSW and the legislative reforms in NSW."
Mr Mayne said the fall in donations should be welcomed, adding that the big political parties ‘‘already receive generous public funding".
’’The well-funded campaign against Kevin Rudd’s super profits tax was probably the high-water mark of corporate donations in Australia and it’s been coming off for the last couple of years."
Mr Mayne said the disclosures could be made more transparent by forcing the parties to make more submissions, to require them to release balance sheets and to provide greater detail on each donation and where the money was going to.