Nurses and midwives welcome High Court decision to maintain freedom of speech

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Brett Holmes

The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) has applauded the decision of the High Court to overturn laws limiting freedom of communication during NSW state election campaigns.

NSWNMA General Secretary, Brett Holmes said it was a win for democracy under a government that has chipped away at the rights of workers.

“We welcome the decision of the High Court this afternoon to find these laws as unconstitutional and at odds with freedom of political communication. It is a decision in favour of democracy in NSW.”

“It is legitimate for third-party campaigners, like unions, to express the views of their members when elections are being decided by the people. The unanimous decision by the full bench of the court supports the view that it’s unconstitutional to attempt to silence voices and leave the political class with the only voice that can be truly heard.

“Governments and the Industrial Relations Commission have reduced the ability for nurses and midwives to use industrial action. We’ve had our industrial rights to arbitration curtailed and almost removed in 2011 by the O’Farrell Government.

“Without that legitimate voice, we have been left with no option but to campaign constantly – especially in election periods where governments and oppositions start to listen to the voices of the people.

“The NSWNMA has been campaigning for improved nurse-to-patient ratios in the interest of the community and here we had a government using legislation to try and minimise or silence that campaign.

“We will continue to legitimately campaign on issues that are important for nurses and midwives in the interest of their patients and the communities they serve. “We welcome this important decision of the High Court that will keep the people of NSW informed about the issues around patient safety in our public health system. The community should be able to expect a better public health system, properly staffed with nurses and midwives.”

This article was originally published as a media release for the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association. You can read this here.

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