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High Court affirms unions’ rights to campaign for workers’ rights

19 December 2013 By ASU

Yesterday the High Court handed down a significant decision in favour of free speech and the ability of organisations like unions to campaign for workers' rights and against unjust political actions through campaigns like "Your Rights at Work". This was in response to legislation introduced by the NSW Government in 2012 which tried to take away those rights.

The NSW legislation banned organisations, be they unions, community groups or corporations, from making political donations. The legislation was supported in the NSW Parliament by an alliance of the Liberal, National and Greens political parties. However, the High Court ruled, in response to a challenge by Unions NSW, that the legislation violated the Australian Constitution by impinging on the right to freedom of political communication.

The unanimous decision is an important one which will help many generations of Australians campaign for political change through their unions, community groups and other organisations.

It was disappointing that the NSW State Government, with the support and intervention by all Liberal and National state governments across Australia, took this action but having it supported by the three political parties of the Greens, Liberals and National parties to take away Australians' rights under the Australian Constitution was very wrong.

We are very lucky in this country to have a court system separate from government and a body to protect our rights.

It's a great victory for Australians' rights, union and community rights. We owe a great debt to Unions NSW for challenging the legislation and our ASU Branches of USU and Services in NSW who took the challenge on with other NSW unions.

Well done and thanks!


You can download the High Court statement about the case here

Media item: O'Farrell's party funding flop guarantees freedom, by Keith Ewing and Tim Ayres, The Australian, 2 January 2014 (may be paywalled)



Contact Details
Name: Greg McLean, ASU Assistant National Secretary
Telephone: 0419 796 801