Australian victory boosts lobby Bill fight

Submitted by Matthew on 15 January, 2014 - 11:34

The Transparency of Lobbying Bill pushed by the Government is being debated in the House of Lords from 13 January.

It puts more trade union spending under legal limitations in the months before a general election - the TUC reckons that the text could lay the basis to ban all union conferences in that period — and greatly reduces the allowance for “within-limit” spending.

On 17 December the fight against this Bill got a boost when the High Court of New South Wales, in Australia, ruled unconstitutional a similar but more drastic law enacted by the Liberal (Tory) government in NSW in February 2012, with the support of the Greens.

The Court annulled a clause which banned all political donations by unions and other organisations, and only donations by individuals legal; and another clause which reduced the legal ceiling on election spending by the Australian Labor Party by whatever amount affiliated unions had spent in the election (even those affiliated unions had been barred from donating to Labor).

As British labour lawyer Keith Ewing puts it, “the NSW legislation sought effectively to ban the Labor Party in NSW, at least as the party was initially conceived”.

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