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Australia PM Turnbull 'donated US$1m' to party's election bid

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Australia's wealthy Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull reportedly made a large personal donation to the conservative Liberal Party during the recent fiercely fought election in a move ridiculed by the Labor opposition.

[SYDNEY] Australia's wealthy Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull reportedly made a large personal donation to the conservative Liberal Party during the recent fiercely fought election in a move ridiculed by the Labor opposition.

The multi-millionaire, whose Liberal/National coalition was narrowly re-elected, handed over A$1 million (S$1.03 million) of his own money in the final weeks of the campaign with the party "desperate... for finances", The Australian newspaper said on Friday.

The party did not deny the alleged bail-out but said in a statement that "the claim in today's Australian that the Liberal Party is 'either in debt or broke' is false".

The newspaper said the money was a "tightly kept secret" and was used to fund television advertising, direct mail-outs and opinion polls.

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The donation was mocked by senior opposition Labor politician Anthony Albanese, who told broadcaster Channel Nine: "I wish we had someone who had a lazy A$1 million sitting in the corner that could just plonk into the campaign".

Labor relies on donations and affiliation fees from trade unions for much of its funding.

Mr Turnbull is reportedly worth A$200 million through his previous careers as a barrister, businessman and investment banker.

Under Australian law, political parties receive public funding according to how well they perform in an election.

The funding, which is received after the polls, is usually insufficient to pay for campaigns, with parties having to approach donors - individuals and companies - to boost their kitty.

All donations above A$13,000 at the national level have to be disclosed, with the latest contributions to be revealed in 2017.

The Liberal Party's New South Wales branch had A$4.4 million withheld from its coffers earlier this year by the electoral commission over its failure to disclose the identity of major donors in 2011 state elections.

AFP

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