Major unions with links to the Labour Party have been given permission to list as third parties for the election - after seven months of legal wrangling over their bid to do so.
The Electoral Commission yesterday decided to allow the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union to list as a third party, meaning it can spend up to $120,000 on election advertising for or against a party.
The union had been blocked from listing since January after a complaint it was too closely involved with the Labour Party's internal workings to also list as a third party.
Under the Electoral Finance Act, people or organisations which are involved in the administration of a political party are prohibited from also listing as third parties.
A decision not to allow unions to list could have severely stymied their election year activities, as only those which have registered can spend more than $12,000 on election advertising for or against a political party.
The objection to the EPMU's listing was laid by David Farrar, who has strong links to the National Party and also heads a third party which has campaigned against the Electoral Finance Act.
The commission said it would allow the unions to list on August 4 unless there was a court order against it.
Yesterday, Mr Farrar said he was surprised at the decision, and would consider whether to take further action.
EPMU national secretary Andrew Little said the delay in making the decision had not affected the union's campaigning.
Its campaign on workers' rights focused on issues, rather than parties. But being a third party would give a safety net for any future advertising which could fall under the definition of election advertising.
The union would ensure it was ready to comply with the law's requirements for third parties by the time it was listed.
The decision includes the Maritime Union, the Dairy Workers Union, the Meat Workers' and Related Trades Union and the Service and Food Workers Union, all of which were waiting for the EPMU decision.