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The Power Index: could a six-year-old s-x scandal really bring Gillard undone?

Could a six-year-old s-x scandal really bring Julia Gillard’s minority government undone?

Liberal Party powerbrokers, aware that one by-election defeat would tip Labor out of office, believe it’s a real possibility.

They believe it’s especially promising given that Labor MP Craig Thomson is under fire for admitting last week that he approved thousands of dollars worth of payments to a Sydney escort agency when he was boss of the Health Services Union.

Thomson is the member for Dobell – a marginal electorate on the NSW Central Coast – and the Libs are keen to settle on a candidate soon so they’ve got someone ready to go if he falls on his sword.

“In the current climate, the seat would fall,” a well-known NSW Liberal factional boss told The Power Index today. “But we have to find a good quality candidate.”

The powerbroker says Thomson will have to go if he’s found to have acted inappropriately by any of the many audits or inquiries looking into his conduct as head of the HSU.

“He’s been humiliated, his reputation is seriously damaged. Yet he’s been able to hang in there until now.”

Tom Switzer, former opinion editor of The Australian and former adviser to Brendan Nelson, is among those who have been asked to run in Dobell.

Switzer told The Power Index today that he was seriously tempted to take up the offer, but had to refuse because of work and family commitments.

“I think it would be a wonderful opportunity to bring down the government over the issue of the carbon tax, which is very important for me,” he said. “You’d go down in history as a pretty significant figure because you’d helped stop the carbon tax.

“I was flattered to be asked but I’m out.”

Switzer, who lives on Sydney’s North Shore, says he already has plenty on his plate as editor of the Spectator Australia and lecturer at the University of Sydney.

The industrial umpire, Fair Work Australia, is currently investigating the allegations against Thomson. Senior Liberals, including George Brandis and Andrew Robb, are pushing for a criminal investigation.

The MP has repeatedly denied he had any knowledge that the money he authorised was being spent on prostitutes.

*Don’t miss the launch of The Power Index on Monday, August 15. Sign up for the free eNewsletter, The Power Daily.

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  • 1
    Posted Thursday, 11 August 2011 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    And you think that the ALP don’t have their dirt on some coalition MPs? That’s not the ALP I’ve observed many a year.

  • 2
    Pete from Sydney
    Posted Thursday, 11 August 2011 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    the Libs better be careful what they ask for, there’s skeletons in closets everywhere I’d hazard a guess

  • 3
    Modus Ponens
    Posted Thursday, 11 August 2011 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    What a waste of the Liberal’s time… Do they really think that under any circumstances he would be allowed to step down?

    Why don’t they spend their time developing policies for the future of this country instead?

  • 4
    Lorry
    Posted Thursday, 11 August 2011 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    If a lie from a member of the ALP is all that it takes to bring this govt down then j-U-LIAR should of been sacked before she was elected.

  • 5
    calyptorhynchus
    Posted Thursday, 11 August 2011 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    Haven’t you heard of Gillard’s Plan B.

    If Thomson has to go Gillard makes Turnbull an offer he can’t refuse, the Prime Ministership… with her coalition!

  • 6
    calyptorhynchus
    Posted Thursday, 11 August 2011 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Ps going to a brothel and changing it to the union isn’t a s*x scandal, it’s fraud.

  • 7
    Mark from Melbourne
    Posted Thursday, 11 August 2011 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    Dont know the full stiry but the closing sentence suggests that it isnt Thomson that actually spent the money in the brothels just that he authorised the expense.

    By the way I’ve always aspired to being someone important like a “a well-known NSW Liberal factional boss”. How does one get such a job?

  • 8
    Hugh (Charlie) McColl
    Posted Thursday, 11 August 2011 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    Mark from Melbourne, what you do is make a statement like “…j-U-LIAR should of been sacked before she was elected.”

  • 9
    ggm
    Posted Thursday, 11 August 2011 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    Some roles in life, like ‘colourful racing identity’ cannot be claimed: they have to be given. “well-known NSW Liberal factional boss” is probably one of them.

  • 10
    Mark from Melbourne
    Posted Thursday, 11 August 2011 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Hugh. Been practising that in front of a mirror and getting pretty good at it. Do keep tripping up on the big new tax, big new tax bit sometimes though….

  • 11
    geomac
    Posted Thursday, 11 August 2011 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

    I take it Brandis would be equally keen to see Peter Reith charged over the phone fraud. Well perhaps not because its grasping at straws not legal justice he is concerned with. Thompson approved the cheques and Howard not only approved the payment but devised the plan to get his brother out of the legal minefield concerning the company he was a director of. Strange no other company received similar treatment regarding their workers but then they couldn,t tarnish the then PM with malfeasance implications.

  • 12
    Bellistner
    Posted Friday, 12 August 2011 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    could a six-year-old s-x scandal really bring Gillard undone?

    Dunno, but the LNP/News will sure as hell try.

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