Cartoon: Mark Knight
Apparently the Liberal Party is attempting to counter the government’s propaganda regarding Abbott’s perceived negativity by attempting to appear considerate and nice, cooperating in the matter of Craig Thomson facing 150 fraud charges. There is nothing they can do to stop the sort of attacks given that Gillard accused Abbott of misogyny for looking at his watch.
The granting of a pair, effectively to Labor to cover the court appearance of Thompson is unnecessary, naïve, and unlikely to result in any form of good will from the other side. Thomson can use ‘parliamentary privilege’ as an excuse not to appear, but this would give the opposition ammunition against Labor, which it has denied itself:
The MP, who faces 149 counts of fraud, had been advised that the Parliamentary Privileges Act exempts an MP from being arrested or appearing in court five days before or after Parliament sits.
The former Labor MP and union secretary, who is now an Independent, is facing charges over allegations he used union cash to pay for prostitutes, dinners, and election expenses.Manager of opposition business Christopher Pyne said yesterday the Coalition was prepared to offer Mr Thomson a pair so he could attend court.
Mr Thomson's lawyer Chris McArdle, who has accused "goons in rubber gloves" from NSW correctional services of strip searching Mr Thomson, confirmed his client would not seek any further adjournments and will appear in court on Wednesday. "The Parliamentary Privileges Act speaks for itself. Mr Thomson cannot be obliged to appear in court," Mr McArdle said.
The fact that Thomson is now under suspension from the ALP and is sitting in parliament as an independent, clearly exempts the opposition from any obligation to grant a pair under the standard practices of parliament. Given that the opposition has vowed not to accept the vote of Thompson in the chamber, it would have a reasonable argument for Labor being the party to grant this.
Abbott has to adopt a policy of ‘No More Mr. Nice Guy.’