Donations haul: National Party rakes in five times more than Labour in 2021 donations

The National Party has already raked in more in donations this year than it did for all of last year, election returns reveal.

Donation returns for 2021 show Labour’s haul of $207,385 was dwarfed by National’s haul of more than $1 million.

National’s return included $291,100 in donations of more than $15,000 – most of which were made before Christopher Luxon took over the leadership at the end of November.

It is unclear what immediate impact the switch to Luxon had because the dates of smaller donations are not known, and all but one of the larger donations were while Judith Collins was leader.

However, National passed its 2021 total in the first four months of this year, courtesy of a $1.8m haul from a round-up of rich-listers in a fundraising drive by former MP Paula Bennett – including $250,000 each from Graeme Hart, Murray Bolton, and Nick Mowbray.

The Act Party also got about $850,000 this year in a similar fundraising drive with some of the same donors this year. Last year, it declared a total of $830,000 in donations.

National’s 2021 return included a $15,000 donation from party president Peter Goodfellow on December 30 – the day before the returns cut off.

Other donors included National board member Stefan Sunde ($15,356) and previously disclosed donations from Barry Colman ($51,100) and Tawata Farms ($100,000).

Labour had three donors who gave more than $15,000 – the level at which donors must be publicly disclosed. They included Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern ($18,645), who donates a portion of her salary each fortnight, as do other ministers and MPs.

They also included $16,000 from Paul Grimshaw, and $50,000 from Philip Mills, both of whom are regular donors to Labour. It got four donations of between $5000 and $15,000 – totalling $44,000 – and 314 smaller donations, totalling $78,740.

While it gets far fewer large donations than National, in April this year regular donor Robert Smellie donated a further $100,000 to Labour.

NZ First declared donations of $107,298 – including a $35,000 donation from Troy Bowker, which had already been disclosed. Its return also shows loans to the party of almost $200,000 by leader Winston Peters were still on the books.

The Green Party got close to $404,000 last year – but about half of that came from its own MPs, who pay a portion of their salaries to the party coffers. Co-leader James Shaw and Marama Davidson both put in about $38,000 while other MPs put in around $20,000.

Donations in non-election years are usually much smaller than in election years – in 2020 National declared $2.8m and Labour $1.2m.

Only donors who give more than $15,000 must be publicly disclosed, but parties must now reveal how many smaller donations they received and the total of them in bands of $1500-$5,000 and $5000 to $15,000. They can only accept anonymous donations of less than $1500.

The Government has said it will review donation laws to ensure they are adequate after Serious Fraud Office probes and legal action over the way donations to political parties including NZ First, National and Labour were handled.

No party officials or current MPs have been charged in those cases.

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