ROSS PEAKE May 22, 2012
The Gillard government will continue to bleed over the Craig Thomson saga.
By his own admission, the former Labor MP failed to clear up central elements of the allegations against him.
It was too little too late - following the example set by Julia Gillard when she suddenly decided that a line had been crossed, a line that was never properly explained.
As expected, he portrayed himself as the victim of a witch hunt.
Details of his credit card and licence number were available to those in the union who wanted to ruin his career, but Thomson had to admit that it was hard to explain the calls to escort agencies from his mobile phone and hotel room phone.
Thomson's suggestion that he is the victim of previously undetected identity theft is laughable.
He protests that there were occasions when he ran the Health Services Union that he had to book multiple hotel rooms under his name for the national executive.
Therefore we are to believe that one of those people used one of those hotel room phones to summon a prostitute and used his union-supplied credit card to pay for the pleasure, giving his licence number as security. Even allowing for this fantasy, why did he willingly authorise the credit card account showing the charges for the escort agency?
Thomson says the Fair Work Australia report is too weak to be released without parliamentary privilege, but he held back from naming the person who allegedly set him up until his speech was also covered by that privilege, to protect him from defamation.
Gillard's decision to suspend him from the Labor caucus cast doubt on her professed belief in the presumption of innocence. If he was entitled to that, why did she act? It was a turning point.
Had she been briefed on the contents of the forthcoming FWA report and realised just how damning the findings were?
When the opposition accused Labor yesterday of running a ''protection racket'' for Thomson's benefit, how did the government react? By gagging debate. Or at least, attempting to. A very bad look.
Labor came perilously close to losing control of the House of Representatives, with successive votes lost as the Independents sided with the opposition.
The minority government was saved only by standing orders that exhausted the speaking time of opposition speakers. It was an unedifying spectacle.
If Thomson has the guts to get up and put his point of view, finally, the elected representatives should be able to debate the matter.
The problem with that is that the opposition cannot be trusted not to act as judge and jury.
Tony Abbott is desperate to force Thomson to resign, thereby creating a by-election that would bring down the government.
Thomson made it clear he isn't going anywhere and the Independents will not suspend him from Parliament. To do so would have the Parliament act as a kangaroo court and could lead to the downfall of the minority government, and the end of the Independents' influence.
It would be an abuse of power to suspend him from Parliament given he does not even face charges.