Queensland IR changes threatening free speech set to become law

In Queensland, the state government’s Legal Affairs Committee yesterday recommended the parliament pass a law restricting the free speech of unions and employer organisations.

The Queensland Council of Unions (QCU) are claiming that the laws, in the form of the Industrial Relations (Transparency and Accountability of Industrial Organisations) and Other Acts Amendment Bill 2013, will be passed by Queensland parliament this week.

The law would require that the state’s 34 unions and 32 employer organisations hold a formal ballot before spending over $10,000 on political campaigns.

The IPA’s Simon Breheny previously outlined the major concerns with the proposed laws:

The changes will have an unacceptable impact on freedom of speech – the bill makes it much more difficult for an organisation to participate in political debate. This is campaign finance reform by stealth. Including the changes in a package ostensibly designed to reform industrial relations is a devious political move.

Now it seems that the QCU will challenge the validity of the laws, should they pass, in the High Court. It even has allies for its High Court challenge in the form of the Queensland Chamber of Commerce and Industry (QCCI), which represents 25,000 businesses.

According to the QCCI, the cost of balloting for its organisation alone would reach $150,000 per year.

The laws represent an unacceptable limit being imposed on the ability of organisations to be involved in the political process. We look forward to the laws being defeated by the High Court.

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