Welcome to the no man's land that is the Craig Thomson saga. This story has already taken up way too much space in the nation's political consciousness, but the government's razor-thin majority in minority government means it's not set to abate any time soon.
This is what we know as a result of the Fair Work Australia investigation that's finally been completed -- three years and 1100 pages later, it's not much:
- Fair Work Australia found 181 contraventions of the Workplace Relations Act 1996 and the Health Services Union rules. Of those 181, 105 relate to civil penalty provisions within the act.
- Fair Work Australia did not recommend whether those involved should be charged and has left that up to the Department of Public Prosecutions to decide.
- The report names three former union officials and one other person. While it’s assumed Thomson is one of them, this has not been verified.
Thomson himself doesn't know who is named, and said yesterday he found out the investigation had been referred to the DPP on Twitter.
The information vacuum sparks fevered speculation. Remember when Thomson's doctor made the mistake of listing "abdominal pains" on his medical certificate when taking leave from parliament? That ended in the Nationals leader Warren Truss speculating that Craig was ... ahem, constipated.
So brace yourself for the avalanche of speculation set to hit in the coming days. Last night Jackson called for a judicial inquiry into the FWA probe. This morning ACTU president Ged Kearney announced the union would meet tomorrow to consider suspending the HSU from its ranks. And of course, the Coalition is demanding transparency with the full release of the report.
So here's a memo to the DPP: please, on behalf of the Australian public, or at least any members of the public still foolish enough to pay attention: make this a fast investigation and release your findings ASAP. The nation's boredom threshold depends upon it.