High Court overturns NSW’s political donations ban

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High Court overturns NSW’s political donations ban

The High Court has found that NSW legislation banning political donations in certain respects imposed an impermissible burden on the implied constitutional freedom of political communication.

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The High Court has found that NSW legislation banning political donations in certain respects imposed an impermissible burden on the implied constitutional freedom of political communication.

[Full text of this case: Unions NSW v New South Wales [2012] HCA 58 (18 December 2013)]

Unions NSW had brought the case arguing that the laws would impact heavily on them.

The High Court upheld Unions NSW’s challenge.

The situation henceforth

Donations by corporations and unions will again be legal and money spent on election advertising by unions that are affiliated to Labor will now not affect Labor's election expenditure limits.

However older provisions will remain in force, including donations caps, limits on the size of party spending and the bans on money from the tobacco, alcohol and gambling industries and developers.

O’Farrell comments

NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell said the NSW Government remains determined to clean up the political donations culture in NSW following a decision by the High Court to strike down changes to the State’s electoral funding laws.

‘I am disappointed with today’s decision but we remain determined to deliver the people of NSW a fair and transparent electoral funding system to restore trust in the political process in this State,’ Mr O’Farrell said.

‘We will not be put off in trying to stamp out corruption and Labor’s rotten ‘decisions for donations’ culture.

‘We won’t be deterred from taking action to clean up this State by people seeking to use the courts to try and thwart the intent of Parliament — whether they’re outlaw motorcycle gangs or Labor and its union mates.’
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