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

20 December 2013
Sign for the High Court of Australia
On 19 December 2013, the High Court of Australia 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 New South Wales State Govt Government in 2012 which tried to take away those rights.

The NSW State 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.

Australia has a court system separate from government and a body to protect people’s rights. It's a great victory for Australians' rights, union and community rights.

Download the High Court statement about the case.

Also see