National Party donations in 2018 topped $700,000 - more than any other party

2019-05-03 04:33:48

In its first full year out of Government, the National Party still led the donation race with $742,000 in declared donations in 2018.

Right behind them is the Green Party, who pulled in $603,730 - mostly on the back of tithing from its own MPs salaries and $350,440 from the estate of late-member Betty Harris, the largest donation from a single person in 2018.

Labour only pulled in $173,343, in donations, including a fortnightly donation from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern that totalled $18,790. Lawyer Robert Smellie donated $50,000.

The figures do have a caveat: The returns do not cover non-anonymous or domestic donations under $1500, meaning some amount of money is unaccounted for.

Labour general secretary Andre Anderson told Stuff the party pulled in a significant amount of small donations, but declined to say how much exactly. He also noted that other MPs tithed to the party, but not above the $15,000 declaration limit.

National's continued dominance in the declared donation stakes will give them a large war-chest for advertisements and other campaigning.

The majority of National's donations come from either donations exceeding $1500 but not exceeding $5000 ($348,152) or donations exceeding $5000 but not exceeding $15,000 ($295,230).

Several larger one-off donations are listed. Graham Drummond donated $25,000 in July, alongside $500 in March, while Sir Owen Glenn donated $25,000 in December. Real estate company RCL Henley Downs donated $25,000 in December.

Former National MP Jami-Lee Ross accused the party of receiving $100,000 in donations during 2018 from a single donor who broke up the donations into smaller pieces so they would go undetected. The party and leader Simon Bridges has strenuously denied the claims, while the police has referred the matter to the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

Party secretary Greg Hamilton addressed this accusation in a letter to the party's auditor accompanying the return, saying the party had seen no evidence or documentation to support Ross' claim.

"We have no been advised by the NZ Police of any concern in regard to the NZ National Parties [sic] handling of these donations. We also appreciate that the SFO have decided to look into these donations and as at today's date the NZ National Party has not been informed by the SFO as to the specific concerns the SFO are looking into at this stage."

ACT, which is no longer in Government and has just a single MP, received almost as much as the Labour Party - $145,072.

NZ First received the smallest amount of money of any of the parties currently in Parliament, just $87,690.

This was slightly less than The Opportunities Party (TOP), which received a $50,000 donation from founder Gareth Morgan and a further $37,843 in other donations.

NZ First received a substantial loan of $76,622 from the NZ First foundation, administered by Winston Peters' longtime lawyer Brian Henry.

Two other small parties outside of Parliament also received smaller amounts of cash, with the New Conservatives pulling in $20,000 and the Maori Party receiving $2000.

Parties generally raise a lot more money in election years.

National pulled in $4.5 million in 2017, while Labour received $1.6m and TOP received $2.3m.

Ardern appears to be the only Labour MP tithing her salary to her party, but her donation $18,790 donation is smaller than the amount several Green MPs pay.

Green Ministers Julie Anne Genter, James Shaw, and Eugenie Sage all donated over $28,000.

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