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Issue #1646      July, 9, 2014

Newman surrender a win

Queensland unions have had a huge win – the Queensland government has withdrawn laws which would have sabotaged union activity. The state Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) has hailed it as a confirmation of the right to freedom of speech.

Union members in Queensland will also be spared the need for an expensive High Court challenge after the Newman government repealed its own laws intended to force unions to ballot all members before spending money on political campaigns.

AMWU Queensland state secretary Rohan Webb said the union had fought hard over the issue of the right of unions to conduct political campaigns, including those against the draconian industrial laws of the Newman government.

“This law was brought in to destroy the ability of unions to organise and conduct large-scale campaigns against changes to the law which affect our members’ industrial rights, their health and safety,” he said.

“The Newman government wanted to silence its critics by tying our elected officials up in another lengthy electoral process every time we wanted to mount campaigns against government policies such as privatisation.”

Webb said that unions had legal advice that the Newman law would be deemed unconstitutional, and were prepared to take the matter as far as the High Court.

In the end, that wasn’t necessary as similar NSW laws struck down by the High Court last year made it clear the Newman government laws would also be invalid.

Webb said it was outrageous that the Newman government had also passed laws lifting the threshold for political parties having to report the identity of donors from $1,000 to $12,400.

“Our members know we have the constitution on our side and we will continue to expose the unethical hypocrisy of this government in trying to avoid proper scrutiny of its big business links,” Webb said.

Next article – Medicare – For-profits cash in on co-payment

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