One of the bizarre elements of the Electoral Finance Act is rather than abolishing anonymous donations, it routed them through the Electoral Commission allowing a party to receive $240,000 that way, with no individual donation bigger than $36,000.
The Commssion has updated its website with details of donations received and paid out:
In September it paid out $15,000, being three donations of $5,000 each to Progressives, National and Labour.
In October it has paid out $76,000 being $72,000 to National and $4,000 to Labour. So I would guess National had two $36,000 donations made as that is the maximum.
I was initially puzzled as to why someone would make a donation of $5,000 anonymously through the Electoral Commission. You see if they donated direct to the party their name would not be disclosed publicly unless it was over $10,000. I then thought of two possibilities:
- They had already given $10,000 to the party directly and wanted to give additional money without disclosure. The EFA actually allows a total of $66,000 to be donated over three years to a party without disclosure – $10K a year and $36K through the Electoral Commission.
- They genuinely want to be anonymous – even to the party officers and staff. If you donate $5k direct to a party your name is not published publicly but the party president, secretary and a couple of others will know. So if you want total anonymity then a $5k donation through the Electoral Commission makes sense.