Parliament On A Knife Edge Part V – I Did Not Have Sex With That Woman

Or that one. Or that one.

That should get the punters in. Plus, I feel like a bit of light relief (pun most definitely intended).

The scandal surrounding the man LibertyGibbert first visited back here and here, Labor MHR for Dobell Craig Thomson, has now descended into the kind of farce that is fodder for years’ worth of late-night television comedian’s jibes; great value for them, but it’s also making our parliament a laughing stock and harming our image abroad.

Thomson, to refresh your memory, has been the subject of an investigation by Fair Work Australia into his activities as Secretary of the Health Services Union. Allegations that he took over $100,000 in ATM cash withdrawals, all unaccounted for, plus charged exorbitant travel expenses and even escort services to his union credit card, are the juicy bits, on which the tabloid newspapers have been feasting. But the ones that threatened to torpedo his political career were the charge that he used over $200,000 of union funds towards his 2010 election campaign in Dobell, and that he and fellow HSU boss Michael Williamson received secret commissions in the form of premium Amex cards, from a Sydney publisher whom they were paying way over the odds to produce a bi-monthly union newsletter.

These crimes are punishable by imprisonment and would force Thomson to resign from parliament, meaning that in all likelihood, a no-confidence motion against the Gillard government would pass on the floor of the House, bringing that government down. Polls currently have Tony Abbott’s Liberal-National coalition so far ahead, that an election would not only see Abbott replicate the recent electoral bloodbaths in New South Wales and Queensland, but in a half-Senate election (which can be held any time from 3 August onwards) it’s highly likely he can gain control of the Upper House as well, meaning the Carbon Tax will be history by Christmas.

The evidence against Thomson was pretty overwhelming—mobile phone and hotel phone records show Thompson dialling various Sydney and Melbourne escort agencies, then credit card charges racked up to the same agencies on the same dates as the phone calls. Plus photocopies of Thomson’s photo drivers’ license taken by the agency as security against the card. So why did the Labor-leaning Fair Work Australia drag out its investigation into Thomson for over three years? I’ll give you the very smelly reason in a moment.

Of course, Thomson denies it all. In an interview last weekend, he claimed rival union bosses threatened to bring him down, and frame him with the offences he is now accused of. An effort, if true, worthy of Mission: Impossible. What Thomson is asking us to believe is, that someone stole his mobile phone and/or broke into his hotel room and used the house phone to call these escort agencies. Then this individual stole Thompson’s credit card and drivers’ license, slided off to the aforesaid knock shop, wearing a rubber Craig Thomson mask, pleasured himself as alleged, expertly forged Thomson’s signature on the bill, and then… went back to the hotel room, returned the credit card, mobile phone and drivers’ licence to Thomson’s person without him ever realizing it—and he did all this on multiple occasions! The CIA, MI6 and Mossad all working in cahoots could barely have pulled off a sting this comprehensive.

Or we could just use Occam’s Razor, and call B.S. when we see it.

Craig Thomson leaving his, ermm… home. I think.

Well, FWA have just released their findings. But it is not yet clear what criminal charges, if any, will be laid against Thomson, and in what jurisdiction. The Australian Electoral Commission has said it cannot pursue electoral fraud charges against Thomson under the Electoral Act—because the FWA investigation took so long, the statute of limitations on electoral fraud has run out. Fair Work Australia now has a serious case of its own to answer.

As do independent MHRs Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott. These two men bear singular responsibility for the debâcle that has occurred, for without their support in 2010, Julia Gillard could never have formed a viable government. Both embittered former National Party members, representatives of rural NSW electorates centred on Tamworth and Port Macquarie, they represent the two electorates with the lowest Labor votes in the entire country—8% and 13% respectively. More than anyone else, these two men had no mandate by the electors who sent them to Canberra, to help form a Labor government. I rather expect the coming electoral bloodbath will extend to these two “Honourable” gentlemen, if they bother to run.

And all the while, the Peter Slipper saga provides even more comic relief. Slipper has voluntarily stepped aside as Speaker of the House while a variety of civil and criminal charges are pursued against him. The one that stands to skewer him is the charge that he spent over $3,000 helping a colleague run for office in the recent Tasmanian state elections and, as this charge is not going to be delayed by another protracted FWA investigation, he cannot count on the statute of limitations running out, as it did for Thomson.

All very ugly, and coming in the week in which Treasurer Wayne Swan handed down the annual Federal Budget, it isn’t the distraction Gillard wished for, in what was possibly her last chance to persuade the public that her government actually stood for something. Anything.

I’ll leave the last word to the great Pickering (click pic through to his blog):

This entry was posted in Australia. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Parliament On A Knife Edge Part V – I Did Not Have Sex With That Woman

  1. farmerbraun says:

    This will be causing you some problems Oz. How do you keep from giggling when you’re trying to chop the firewood?. This may even be an OSH hazard. Ortabeeya law against it.

    Don’t start mate – I’ve been out the back cutting wood all day. Chainsaws not axes though; even more risky – Oz 😮

  2. izen says:

    Politician fiddles election expenses…. Hardly man bites dog!
    The sex ‘scandal’ would make DSK laugh.
    Corruption involving taking money {even if its for the party} for Political access and influence is a much bigger problem.
    I suspect the opposition will not push too hard however advantageous it looks given the marginal nature of the government mandate. There are probably a number of skeletons in their cupboard ripe for exposure if they seek advantage….

    Completely off topic, it belongs in the last thread, but I encountered an old economics joke that I think is too good to miss…

    A Chicago/Austrian school economist says to a Keynsian – 
    “I know your economic model works in practice, but does it work in theory?”

    I agree there probably won’t be a no-confidence motion until 3 August minus the minimum election period of 33 days. So 2 July is the earliest date there is a chance of Gillard falling. Unless Labor move against her themselves.

    Sure, every political party has skeletons, but as I pointed out at the top it is the imprisonable ones that are the sticking point. The whole escort business is just to keep everyone else interested – Oz

  3. Luton Ian says:

    Marginally OT
    I posted these earlier in the Mises Daily comments as a heads up. I’m guessing that some of your regulars may get a chuckle from them.


    Present Bishop of Durham invokes “Sin of Usurary” over provision of payday loans!

    The paper which the report is from, may as well be renamed “The Daily Mercantilist”.
    Scottish nationalist Govt seeking minimum price for alcohol.

    The Scottish bar owners have welcomed the proposal – now there is a surprise. and surprise surprise, the Scottish whisky industry is claimed to employ around 41,000 scots:

    We wouldn’t want cheep vodka, cheap cider, or that nasty, English, Buckfast Wine – all being bought from English or German owned supermarkets, unfairly taking market share from Scottish Jobs, now would we!

    The linked article gives all the usual fallacious conclusions about bad things which are done by people who’ve drunk alcohol. Naturally it neglects to say that an even greater proportion of bad deeds are carried out by people who’ve been breathing air, drinking water, and eating deep fried mars bar…

    What could possibly go wrong with such an enlightened policy?
    Booze stores all along the border?

    Booze cruises to the continent?
    Heroic Polish moonshiners

    and inept Scottish moonshiners going blind or worse with methanol poisoning?

    Oh, did I forget to mention gang violence amongst smugglers and black marketeers?

    That’s the thing about free markets: if governments try to stand in the way of them, folks will find a way of freeing them up themselves – Oz

  4. Ozboy says:

    Former Labor leader Mark Latham writes that Thomson has clearly become delusional, and perhaps needs some kind of professional help rather than an immediate hounding from office. He may have a point, but I somehow doubt Abbott and the coalition will be in much of a mood to listen.

  5. Kitler says:

    Amateurs pah we do things bigger and better here in the good ole USA, corruption you guys are boy scouts compared to our lot, heck you can even run a male brothel out of your apartment and still get reelected.

    Just what Izen said. And you’re both right, except this bloke’s vote is keeping the Gillard government alive – Oz

  6. Kitler says:

    Yet the government will drag on by hook or by crook.

    Up to a point. As I said, Abbott doesn’t really want an election before August, as he would be faced with a hostile Senate and would have to go back to the polls shortly afterwards in a double-dissolution election. But as time goes by, the number of permutations of how the government could fall multiply.

    Perhaps I should have said more at the top regarding Slipper, but it’s just too grubby. Turns out now that James Ashby is not the only member of Slipper’s staff considering civil action against him on sexual harrassment issues. As they are civil cases not carrying the risk of prison terms, Slipper is technically immune from being expelled from parliament. Who knows how long the criminal charges will drag out.

    And I definitely should have brought up the issue of Thompson’s legal bills. It has emerged that the ALP have been funding Thomson’s legal bills to the tune of $200,000 through its legal firm Holding Redlich. Without this support, Thomson would have had to declare bankruptcy, which would force Thomson to resign from parliament. Yet when he was suspended from the Labor Party last month, and Holding Redlich continued to represent him, he did not update the Parliamentary Register of Pecuniary Interests until this inconsistency was put to him the other day.

    For this action, he could be forced to face an investigation by the Parliamentary Privileges Committee, which theoretically could have him expelled. But – irony of ironies – it would be Peter Slipper (who, though having stood aside as Speaker, still officially holds the post) who would decide whether or not Thomson should be so investigated.

    How’s that lot for grubby? Thomson can’t be convicted of electoral fraud by the court, because the statute of limitations has run out due to FWA’s cynically dragging out its investigation over three years. Yet Julia the Red continues to accept Thomson’s vote on the floor of the House, hiding behind the formula that “his innocence or guilt is a matter for the courts to decide”. And she has by the short and curlies, the one man who could do something about it, but is compromised by a raft of charges of his own. Small wonder a petition begun in Thomson’s electorate four days ago and demanding he resign, already has well over five seven thousand signatures – Oz

  7. Amanda says:

    Wow. Australians are anything but boring!

  8. Ozboy says:

    Update: the Australian Electoral Commission have advised, (belatedly, because of the statute of limitations, see above) that the majority of HSU funding of Thomson’s 2010 election campaign was in fact declared by the Union. This leaves about $17,000 in funding unaccounted for, but why the hell the AEC would even bother chasing this when it’s all too late is beyond me. It’s a case of shut the gate, the horse has bolted.

    Thomson is going to seek leave to make a statement about all this on the floor of Parliament on Monday. He is expected to use the immunity of parliamentary privilege to name names (something has refused to do with Victorian Police) of those he claims set him up. Whoever it is, if he really did it, has missed his calling in life. He should expect a job offer from ASIS within an hour of being named 🙄

    Andrew Bolt’s take here.

  9. Ozboy says:

    And speaking of Bolt, his TV show is probably going to be put at risk now for today resurrecting another union scandal, this one from the 1990s and involving a former AWU boss and his, um, girlfriend. Though we’ve visited this issue previously, the mere mention of it on Australian media, given what followed back then, is still explosive stuff:

  10. Ozboy says:

    Well, today’s the day: Thomson is going to give his version of events, under parliamentary privilege, on the floor of the House today at approximately midday AEST. He’s expected to name names.

    Should be entertaining, at a minimum. I’ll find out about web streaming and post up details here, if anyone’s interested in watching live. For those within Australia, it’ll probably be covered on ABC News 24 and ABC News Radio.

    And how much grubbier can the guy get? Andrew Bolt reports that Thomson hid his relationship status in order to get his partner a $15,000 government first home-owners’ subsidy:

    Craig Thomson claims he was not the de facto partner of his now wife Zoe Arnold in February 2009 when she bought the family’s current home and claimed a stamp duty exemption – even though Ms Arnold was pregnant with his child…

    Ms Arnold avoided $15,000 in stamp duty through a first-homeowner’s scheme on the Bateau Bay, NSW, property. The scheme forbids a homeowner to claim the stamp duty exemption if they have a spouse or de facto who has previously owned property…

    The Labor MP maintains the de facto relationship began after Ms Arnold bought the property.

    Transfer documents were signed by Ms Arnold on February 20, 2009. Five days later, Mr Thomson changed his electoral enrolment to the Bateau Bay address.

    Sounds like a bloody quick courtship 🙄

  11. Ozboy says:


    Thomson spoke for an hour, during which he gave an exhaustive recounting of his life and career, gave very little reason why we should doubt the mountain of evidence regarding his alleged misuse of union funds, and said nothing at all regarding the issue of secret commissions. Instead, he claimed the whole thing was a conspiracy against him, hatched by union bosses Kathy Jackson, Marco Bolano and Michael Williamson (the latter his co-accused in the secret commissions issue). He accused Opposition Leader Tony Abbott of unleashing a “lynch mob” against him, and – incredibly – concluded by calling Abbott unfit to serve as an MP.

    He’s got a big pair, I’ll grant him that.

    Incidentally, I just realized I’ve been mis-spelling Thomson’s name with a “p” in it – now corrected.

    Bolt demolishes Thomson’s lengthy defence in a few paragraphs, and on 2GB radio here.

  12. Ozboy says:

    On the cynical dragging out of the FWA investigation, beyond the statute of limitations for electoral fraud:

Comments are closed.