NEW disclosures reveal donors gave Mildura Rural City deputy mayor Jason Modica $51,304 for his 2019 federal election bid for the seat of Mallee.
Disclosure returns released by the Australian Electoral Commission on Monday show Mr Modica received the most donations of all 13 candidates.
The sum came from 39 individual donors - one worth $25,000 from M. and A.F. Modica. Donations totalling more than $13,800 made to an individual candidate or Senate group must be reported by the donor. Any donor contributing less can remain anonymous.
Mr Modica said many of his other donations came from small business owners and supporters he gained during his time on the council.
"It ties into the transition Mallee's going through, particularly with regards to the lack of infrastructure in electrical upgrades - maybe wind in the south and solar in the north," he said.
"People were also happy with me talking about the debacle in water. That has seen difficult times for people who once had a reliable asset now have something that is completely tradeable."
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He said his main expenses were campaign advertising and travelling across the electorate.
"Mallee was the last electorate to be called after the (2019) election," he said, discussing the impact donors' contributions had.
"Myself, Ray Kingston, Cecilia Moar and Daniel Straub moved a tick over 23 per cent of the vote, I believe. It was a substantial swing and there are things changing in the Mallee."
Ray Kingston, another independent candidate who is based at Rupanyup, received $32,405 from 49 donors while spending $48,227 campaigning.
Like Mr Modica, he said his main expenses were advertising in the mainstream media and fuel.
"It's not a cheap process," he said. "We certainly also spent a little bit on promoting on social media, although I certainly did do a lot of kilometres and my fuel spend was quite high, too."
Mr Kingston said he sought donations via his website and through the sale of merchandise.
"Fundraising was a job we didn't focus on, and realistically a lot of successful campaigns around the country work pretty hard on their fundraising and spend a lot more than I did," he said.
"What was really clear to me was having some serious competition in the electorate and what that was worth in terms of funding announcements and minister visitations - the sort of things we haven't seen in elections here in the past."
Both Mr Kingston and Mr Modica received $10,080 back from the AEC for earning more than four per cent of the primary vote at the May 18 ballot.
The third independent, Cecilia Moar, spent more than any other candidate whose declarations are recorded as of Monday, with $56,521. She received $3150 in donations.
The Nationals' Anne Webster, now Member for Mallee, received three donations worth $3050 while spending $6500 campaigning.
Fraser Anning's Conservative National Party's Rick Grosvenor spent $5465 on his campaign though receiving no donations, while United Australia Party's Rick Millar received one donation worth $500 while spending $4500.
Other Mallee candidates included the Science Party's Leigh Firman, Labor's Carole Hart, Citizens Electoral Council's Chris Lahy, Rise Up Australia Party's Phillip Mollison, Liberal Serge Petrovich, the Greens' Nicole Rowan, Shooters Fisher and Farmers Party's Daniel Straub.
Dr Webster won Mallee with 27.86 per cent of first preference votes, a swing against of more than 16 per cent against the government when including the results of the Liberal Party, the National's senior coalition partner. The Liberals' Serge Petrovich came second, Labor's Hart third and Mr Modica and Mr Kingston fourth and fifth respectively.
An AEC spokesman said officially endorsed candidates could submit a "nil return" and roll their reporting into the annual return for their party - due for release in February 2020 - if those financial transactions were the responsibility of a party committee.
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