It has been mentioned here before that with the Gillard government clinging precariously to power with the aid of the Greens and a motley mob of eccentric independents by only one seat, we are a heartbeat, scandal, or floor crossing away from a change of government.
It looks like we have the scandal.
Labor member for Dobell, Craig Thomson, a former Health Services Union national secretary, launched a defamation action against Fairfax Media after it revealed that his union credit card was used to procure the services of prostitutes, pay for escort services, cash advances, and to finance his political campaign. Ultimately, he had to drop the case, incurring legal bills of around $90,000.
He has understandably denied the initial allegations, however his mobile phone was used to contact the service provider and his driver's license was used to verify the payments. He has since claimed that his signature was forged, but media reports indicate that handwriting experts disagree and photo identification was used by the provider for the verification.
As if the scandal itself was not enough, the next problem for Labor was that this bill had the potential to bankrupt him, a situation that would make him ineligible to sit in parliament. This is where a cover-up comes into play.
It appears that the NSW branch of the Labor Party has gifted and loaned him a sum of at least $90,000 with several reports that it was considerably more than that. The information became available after he updated the register of members' interests yesterday to include “a sum of money,” well after the allowable 28 day time limit for making such a declaration.
The PM, Julia Gillard now appears implicated, not as an escort, but in the decision to give him the money. Interestingly, she has sort of denied it but in the terminology of “refusing to rule out having a role in the NSW Labor Party's decision to spend more than $90,000 to help Mr. Thomson avoid bankruptcy:”
Asked when Ms Gillard first knew about the bailout or whether she had discussed it with the MP, the PM's office said: "We do not as a general rule provide comment on private discussions between MPs and the Prime Minister or her office.”Labor will probably try to tough it out, they can’t afford to do otherwise. It is not certain if he will be forced to resign, but this is gathering steam, and has the stink of corruption all over it.
Ms Gillard claimed there had been "no detailed discussions" with Mr. Thomson on the matter but did not deny there had been discussions or detailed discussions with her office.