At long, long last, corrupt former union official and Labor MHR Craig Thomson, the man onto whose vote the Gillard government clung by its fingernails, was today sentenced in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court. He will spend a dozen weeks in a country-club minimum-security facility, then be set free. Instead of the ten years in Her Majesty’s Iron Motel, which his crimes self-evidently warranted. And which he would undoubtedly have got, had he been a nobody with no influence.
I only have time for a brief post, but I want to register my own disgust. Regular readers of LibertyGibbert will be familiar with the Thomson case, which this site covered here, here and here. Despite being suspended from the Labor Party, his vote was one of just two separating Julia Gillard from a vote of no-confidence, which would have ended her government a year earlier than the Australian people themselves eventually did.
Hospital cleaners and orderlies, the lowest-paid and most vulnerable workers in the health system, most of them women and many with poor English skills, look to the Health Services Union, the HSU, for protection and to give them a united voice. To that end, they agree to have their meagre pay cheques docked every week for union dues.
And how did Craig Thomson repay that trust? By spending hundreds of thousands on himself on high living, cash withdrawals from ATMs, prostitutes, five-star hotel rooms and pornography.
To be sure, Thomson is a rotten apple. I have no doubt at all that most HSU officials are honest, diligent, and faithful advocates of those workers whom they serve. Almost half of all serving federal Labor MPs are former union officials. Most of them have probably been unfairly tarred with the same brush. Some may well prove to be as bad as Thomson, if not worse. But the growing avalanche of evidence of widespread corruption throughout the union movement can no longer be ignored. The sooner the upcoming Royal Commission flushes all the sludge out of the sewer, the better for the union movement, and Australian democracy as a whole. Expect Thomson’s conviction to be the first of many.
But twelve weeks? Crime does pay, it would appear. When he gets out in June, he ought to change his name by deed poll. To Scott Free.