Pointing Fingers

By DeusExMacintosh

JULIA Gillard has moved from defence to attack over the Craig Thomson scandal, accusing the opposition of using “Liberal mates” to exert political pressure on the NSW police to investigate the Labor MP.

As Liberal senator George Brandis came under pressure for telephoning Australian Federal Police Commissioner Tony Negus over the affair, Labor sources said the pressure of the scandal was sapping the government’s morale and creating an atmosphere of frustration and political impotence. MPs, from cabinet ministers to backbenchers, said yesterday the furore surrounding allegations that Mr Thomson used a work credit card when he was head of the Health Services Union to hire prostitutes was crippling the Prime Minister’s attempts to peg back the Coalition’s lead in the opinion polls.

Reports last night said Ms Gillard’s chief of staff in 2009 called an industrial relations official to ask whether he was investigating Mr Thomson. Former industrial registrar Doug Williams confirmed to Sydney’s Daily Telegraph he was telephoned by Ms Gillard’s chief of staff Ben Hubbard in early 2009 about inquiries into the HSU and Mr Thomson. Ms Gillard was deputy prime minister at the time, and the phone call raises questions about when she first learned of the allegations against Mr Thomson.

Trade Minister Craig Emerson said continuing coverage of the Thomson affair was robbing Labor of a chance to promote policies or other government initiatives. He said serious issues, “while deserving of media coverage, aren’t getting media coverage because of this other matter”.

Another MP, asking not to be named, was more frank. “We have nowhere to go,” he said. “The PM is doing everything she can, but this thing just won’t go away.”

The opposition is relentlessly pursuing the matter, aware that if Mr Thomson is forced to resign, it would probably win a by-election in his NSW central coast seat of Dobell, which would spell the end of Ms Gillard’s government. With trade union regulator Fair Work Australia investigating the issue from the perspective of union rules, Senator Brandis, the opposition’s legal affairs spokesman, this week complained to NSW police about the affair.

Police are assessing the material to see whether there are grounds to launch an investigation. They have also received material from the HSU.

Senator Brandis yesterday confirmed he had contacted NSW Police Minister Mike Gallacher last Friday to tell him of his intention to call for police action. Mr Gallacher has confirmed he contacted NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione about the matter after receiving Senator Brandis’s call, but told the NSW parliament yesterday the commissioner had assured him the complaint would be dealt with like any other…

Ms Gillard used the disclosure as the launching pad for a savage attack on Tony Abbott in question time, accusing the Opposition Leader of “stinking hypocrisy” for pursuing Mr Thomson, while having defended Coalition MPs who had been subject to allegations of wrongdoing on the basis that they were entitled to the presumption of innocence.

She pointed out that Labor had not made any attacks on Liberal senator Mary Jo Fisher, who is facing criminal charges over alleged shoplifting.

The Australian


  1. Posted August 26, 2011 at 5:33 am | Permalink

    Mary Jo is facing charges over shoplifting $92. Peanuts, compared to the amounts in the other case. But regardless, Gillard’s performance in parliament yesterday was that of someone running very, very, scared.

  2. Catching up
    Posted August 26, 2011 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    I was under the impression, the allegations about
    Mr. Thomson has been in the public domain for up to three years ago. I far as I can see, nothing has changed in this time.

    We can only assume that the PM found nothing that prevented Mr. Thomson being a candidate in the 2010 elections.

  3. Catching up
    Posted August 26, 2011 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    “that of someone running very, very, scared”

    I hate to think how the PM would perform if she is confident. I can only say she would be deadly.

  4. derrida derider
    Posted August 26, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    Yep, they are old allegations, and in fact there was a push in the local party branch to strip him of his preselection before the last election because of them. Graeme Richardson declared him unfit for public office – when even Richo thinks you are dodgy then you have a real problem. But head office overruled the locals – I bet they’re regretting it now.

    I think we are going to have Tony Abbott as our PM quite soon. And having seen closeup some of his ministers and the man himself, I predict that the electorate will regret that sooner than you think.

    They say voters get the government they deserve. What have Australians done to deserve those currently running both major parties?

  5. Posted August 26, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Thomson has been in the public domain for up to three years ago. I far as I can see, nothing has changed in this time.

    Some things have changed. The HSU has done more internal investigation, for example. Fair Work Australia nee Industrial Relations Board have been taking some time to glaciate over the issue, and so on.

  6. kvd
    Posted August 26, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    Couldn’t we just shoehorn John Howard into a safe seat (Dobell for instance), and get back to some sort of normality, where everybody eats their broccoli, and everybody is embarrassed about boat people, and everybody gets to make 40% plus on any real estate they buy, and everyone knows whatever he says is non-core, but that’s ok ’cause he likes cricket, but can’t bat, can’t bowl, and the Queen is welcome to visit?

  7. kvd
    Posted August 26, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    Well then, it’s all your own fault LE. And besides, I quite like broccoli 😉

  8. Posted August 26, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    Eurk. Califlower, likewise. Broccoli in small doses and these days I’m even getting to LIKE spinach (makes a nice salad with thinly pared onions, sliced tomatoes and a couple of dollops of mayo along with a piece of grilled salmon.)

    kvd: I don’t think even a 40% return on your real estate investments would be adequate return if the actual cost was the return of Howard.

  9. kvd
    Posted August 26, 2011 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    So DEM, having established your position, are we now simply arguing about your price? 😉 It’s interesting that we all seem to know what we don’t like, but are very vague as to what we actually would like to replace same. Governments that is – not vegetables.

    Re vegetables: add a dob of butter, and lots of pepper, and I will eat most any with simple enjoyment.

  10. Patrick
    Posted August 26, 2011 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

    I like both brocolli and Howard, actually. Howard would win in a landslide right now. Did you ever imagine it would take labor so little time to make Australia nostalgic for Howard (well I did but I probably don’t count for these purposes!)?

  11. kvd
    Posted August 26, 2011 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    Patrick this reminds me of those US billboards of Bush with “miss me yet?”. Or maybe that’s an urban myth.

  12. Posted August 26, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    The attraction of Howard (and his ministers — I think Derrida Derider’s point above is a good one) is that at least the country was governed competently. The Gillard government appears to be incompetent, and I somehow doubt that an Abbott government would be any sort of improvement.

    Howard and co. were nothing if not competent. Competency is nice. One tends to miss it when it is gone.

  13. Posted August 26, 2011 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    [email protected]: I’m not cheap, but I can be bought. 😉

    Re: George Bush. Someone give that man another pretzel…

  14. Tim Quilty
    Posted August 26, 2011 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    I think Abbott will turn out to be another Howard. Hated by the media and popular with the voters. If he doesn’t do three terms, I’ll be very surprised.

    Then again, the ALP are going to be left in NSW Labor style disarray after the next election, so the Libs will have to be pretty poor not to do several terms.

  15. Posted August 26, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    I dunno, Tim. Howard had a talented and capable front bench. Abbott doesn’t, and seems to make a point of pretending to be stupid.

  16. Movius
    Posted August 26, 2011 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

    Simon Crean will be the next prime minister of Australia.

  17. Posted August 26, 2011 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

    SL, Howard’s front bench took a while to find their feet. What Howard really had was a) a very smart treasurer who was prepared to stand up to him and b) a more varied party with lots of different strands to draw from.

    When Labor forms government, they have a wide range of choices: should the ministers be unionists, unionists or unionists?

  18. Henry2
    Posted August 27, 2011 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    [email protected]
    They should have been, but they were let back in by an incompetent ALP. These tools aren’t a patch on Hawke/Keating as a team… and that’s from someone on the other side of politics.

  19. Patrick
    Posted August 27, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    I dunno about the billboards, kvd, but there were certainly bumber stickers and t-shirts.

    I agree with Tim Quilty, I thought Labor would be shit and stupid from go and they have been. I actually thought Gillard had a lot more going for her than Rudd and she does – if Rudd was in charge now there’d be a PM Abbott. But she remains stuck to the stupid dream, governing to achieve what she and her coterie of detached fantastists think matters.

    Howard and Bush governed mainly in order to keep things on track…that seems like challenge enough for the average pollie, to me. It also means that if you do have a massive reform, like GST, you do it because it makes sense and does something useful. I am not sure who thought a carbon tax did something useful, but they have hopefully repented by now.

  20. Posted August 27, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Simon Crean will be the next prime minister of Australia.

    When Shit Sandwich time comes around? Hey Simon, maaaate. Joolia’s gone, n’ Kevvie’s in the rubber house creating a lot of froth. We’re about to get annihilated mate. Creamed mate. We need someone to lead us to oblivion and we’ve all got full confidence in you.

    You’re good at losin’ Simon. It’s your talent.

  21. Posted August 27, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Actually I think a big problem of this government is the Treasurer. I am unable to understand how more dirt hasn’t stuck to Wayne ‘Teflon’ Swan. He does not fill me with confidence.

    I had dealings with his student underlings at Uni. They’re like what happens when Chairman Mao and Gordon Gekko have lots of babies. He moved to Canberra in the midst of an electoral rorting scandal that took everyone down but him.

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