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Federal

Aug 19, 2011

Labor MP in prostitute
scandal

Crikey media wrap: Prostitutes, an MP and a precarious government who can't afford to lose someone to a scandal: the allegations against Labor MP Craig Thomson have all the elements of a intriguing film script.

Amber Jamieson — Freelance journalist in New York

Amber Jamieson

Freelance journalist in New York

Prostitutes, an MP and a precarious government that can’t afford to lose someone to a scandal: the allegations against Labor MP Craig Thomson have all the elements of a intriguing screenplay.

Phone calls were made to brothels from a hotel room hired by Thomson when he was secretary of the Health Services Union, and paid for by his union credit card. It’s the latest in a string of allegations over the past few years about Thomson’s time at the HSU, including using credit cards to pay for prostitutes, withdrawing cash advances of more than $100,000 and that union money funded his election campaign.

Nick O’Malley and Phillip Coorey in The Sydney Morning Herald had the latest scoop:

On April 5, 2006 a call was made from Mr Thomson’s hotel room at the Grand Hyatt in Melbourne to Young Blondes escort agency and later to Confidential Models escort agency.

On June 7, 2006 a call was made from his room at Pacific International Suites in Melbourne to an escort agency called Bad Girls.

Another bill shows that on May 15 of that year, Mr Thomson spent $805.50 on lunch at the Melbourne restaurant Langton’s. It appears only $102 was on food — $540 was for four bottles of wine and the rest on beer and coffee.

But this trio of sex, money and politics could force a minority government to election.

Labor paid Thomson’s legal bills as he launched and lost a fight against Fairfax for a 2009 SMH article that claimed he’d used a union credit card to pay for prostitutes, for withdrawing cash advances equalling more than $100,000 and that union money funded his election campaign. The original estimate of legal costs for Thomson’s defamation action was $90,000, but it has blown out.

As Andrew Clennell reports in The Daily Telegraph: “The ALP bailout of Craig Thomson could be more than $150,000 — and federal minister Mark Arbib is understood to have brokered the deal between Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s office and NSW Labor

Labor’s been quietly covering the costs because  if Thomson is declared bankrupt, he is therefore unfit for office and an election forced on a embattled minority Gillard government.

“In a parliament held by the slimmest majority, the political demise of a single member is enough to tip the balance and trigger a byelection that could usher in a new government,” reports Lauren Wilson in The Australian.

As Michelle Grattan notes in The Age, NSW Labor needs to be better vetting procedures for its candidates, because right now Gillard is forced to defend him simply to maintain government. Grattan writes:

“Assuming, however, Thomson survives, what is Labor going to do about his preselection? An exquisite dilemma. If Labor dumps him for the next election, it would be, in effect, conceding he was not a fit candidate. But how could it run him again? That would be extraordinarily disdainful of the people of Dobell, who might have something very sharp to say about it.”

Thomson has become the new Belinda Neal of NSW Labor, says Dennis Atkins in The Courier-Mail. “Politicians crave media attention, forever suggesting story lines, news ideas and tips in an effort to get their name high up in any story. But every parliamentary term has one politician who gets lots of media attention that’s unwanted.”

If Thomson really did have his signature forged — which is what he claims — then why aren’t the NSW police involved? asks Piers Akerman in The Daily Telegraph:

“It is now time for Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione to order an investigation into this matter and put these doubts to rest.”

But as Labor heavyweight Graham Richardson notes on the precarious nature of politics in The Daily Telegraph:

“He [Thomson] may survive, however, because stupidity is not a bar to holding public office. His situation is illustrative of the awful truth that scandal can rear its ugly head at any time. This government needs all its MPs to behave perfectly for whatever time they have left — and that is a very big call.”

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235 comments

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235 thoughts on “Labor MP in prostitute
scandal

  1. Bellistner

    So we may finally have an MP who can organise a root in a brothel?

    If I was the LNP, I’d be very quiet about this. No doubt the Labor Dirt Squad has plenty of information they can let loose if needed.

  2. The_roth

    Just goes to show you how idiots slip through the cracks to become elected officials.

    Both sides of politics must know that if you go into public life everything you’ve ever said and done, which is available on the public record, will be found and used against you.

    It really doesn’t matter whether he used these services himself or whether he just signed off on them. While doing them himself, is not illegal, is distasteful to the puritans at large, using an employers credit for them is of dubious legality.

    If someone else used them for their own purposes and he signed off on them it shows appalling management ability.

    I can’t see how he can survive this intact nor the Gillard government. It’ll be a slow burn but eventually a bi-election surely must occur and with the mood in the electorate whipped up by a right wing media Labour has bugger all chance of winning it.

  3. Jean

    There seem to be some big sums of money involved. Those prostitutes must have a really good union.

  4. Modus Ponens

    There is NO WAY he will leave his crucial seat in Parliament. Why do all media (crikey included) talk about it bringing down the government.

    You have to resign if you are convicted of a crime with a sentence of 12 months, but legal proceedings can be dragged out for two years easily, so no conviction arises.

    My prediciton is he will be asked to leave the labor party and sit as an independent supporting the minority gillard government…

  5. Savonrepus

    If a female person of authority was addressing parliament defending someone who was publicly being shamed for inter alia attending a brothel would it be inapproprate to address that person of authority as Madam?

  6. Policeman MacCruiskeen

    Perfect, Bellistener.

    A functioning minority government potentially brought down by a cocksman? Ya just gotta love the NSW Right. They always leave a trail of slime to show where they’ve been. I see that the HSU offers its members ‘rewards and benefits’ but not apparently including discounts for sex services. One rule for the bosses and another for the members, eh?

  7. calyptorhynchus

    Bit intrigued by Tony Abbott failing to decisively condemn Thomson yesterday.

    Perhaps his advisers told him not to bother, there’s no way Thomson can be forced out.

  8. Peter Ormonde

    Graham Richardson – a heavy weight indeed… and yet another depraved creep comes lurching out of his Sussex Street laboratory…

    How long must we put up with this stream of odious slime?

    At some point – some day… someone must disinfect NSW Labor.

  9. beachcomber

    Why the sudden interest in Thompson, when this was all aired years ago? Looks like Abbott, having failed to drag the Government to an early election on policy grounds, is now trying to knock off the weak links one by one.

    If he had any concern about the integrity of MPs, he would expel Peter Slipper, Member for Fisher, from his party. He has repeatedly been found to have his snout in the trough over 20 years in Parliament, and is again under investigation for buying hundreds of thousands worth of air tickets weeks before the last election.

    But then, Abbott and Consistency are but loose acquaintances.

  10. Policeman MacCruiskeen

    Beachcomber: the state of play in Oz politics is that having one’s snout in the trough is par for the course but other appendages in other places is totally unacceptable.

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