A Queensland magistrate has ruled that the Electrical Trades Union can post financial statements on a website opposethesefascistlaws.com.
Queensland’s attorney-general has failed in a bid to prosecute the Electrical Trades Union under the Newman government’s union spending laws.
The Liberal National Party introduced new laws a year ago making it compulsory for unions to publish credit card and financial statements on a website.
The ETU published its disclosures on a protest website, www.opposethesefascistlaws.com.
Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie and the prosecution argued that website did not belong to the ETU’s Queensland branch.
But Labor-appointed magistrate Bernadette Callaghan, a former union official, cleared the ETU of all 11 charges against it.
She accepted the website www.etu.org.au belonged to the federal branch of the union, and ruled www.opposethesefascistlaws.com, registered in July last year, belonged to the Queensland ETU.
“Given this, I therefore find the defendant not guilty of all charges,” she wrote in her judgment.
A spokesman for Mr Bleijie said the attorney-general was considering whether to launch an appeal.
The decision comes a month after the government backed down on laws requiring unions to ballot their members before spending $10,000 on a political campaign.
This came about after the High Court upheld a union challenge to similar laws in NSW.
The Department of Justice had pursued the ETU under these same laws, leading to the Queensland branch being charged with failing to publish six financial documents, including details of credit card expenditure, loans, grants, donations and political spending.
ETU Queensland secretary Peter Simpson said the judgment meant the union could keep the protest website name, but predicted the government would come after it with new laws.
“They hate us because we go out and tell the truth about what they’re trying to do … abusing their department and their resources, which are unlimited, to quash dissent,” he told AAP on Tuesday.