Thomson claims he was set up
Controversial MP Craig Thomson speaks publicly for the first time, on Saturday, since a damning report into his time as head of the HSU.PT2M2S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-1ykc8 620 349 May 13, 2012
INDEPENDENT MPs have called for ''cool heads'' to prevail as the Craig Thomson saga drags on, with crossbenchers expressing discomfort over using Parliament to punish the MP.
Mr Thomson, in his first interview yesterday after a damning report into his time as head of the Health Services Union, said he wanted to start ''establishing that there are two sides to a story''.
The exiled Labor MP told Channel Nine he was waiting for the benefit of parliamentary privilege to name the union official he believes set him up. He said that a union official threatened to ''set him up with a bunch of hookers'' because he tried to increase transparency of the finances of the HSU.
Speaking out ... Craig Thomson, left, arrives at Channel Nine's Willoughby studios yesterday. Photo: Adam Hollingworth
But the union whistleblower, Kathy Jackson, predicted Mr Thomson was ''going to drop a bucket'' on other HSU figures in his speech, using the protections of parliamentary privilege in a ''coward's castle''.
She said he was preparing to accuse her former husband Jeff Jackson of complicity in a ''set-up'' involving prostitutes - a claim that Mr Jackson rejected.
''No one set him up. He's in another universe that we're not in. If he's got these allegations to make, why not do it outside Parliament?''
Kathy Jackson ... she said Craig Thomson was preparing to accuse her former husband Jeff Jackson of complicity in a ''set-up'' involving prostitutes Photo: Nick Moir
Mr Thomson faces the prospect of a possible censure motion or some type of disciplinary statement after he gives an explanation to federal Parliament when it returns next week.
Allegations against Mr Thomson include that he used a union credit card for prostitutes.
Three of the five members of the crossbench are uncomfortable with the idea that he should face parliamentary censure - breaking ranks with fellow independent Rob Oakeshott - arguing it is a breach of the separation of the parliamentary and legal systems. They also accused the opposition of playing ''fast and loose'' with democracy.
The Greens MP Adam Bandt told The Sun-Herald yesterday that ''two very worrying things are happening in Parliament at the moment''.
''First, some pretty disturbing allegations are being made of a scandalous misuse of union members' money,'' Mr Bandt said. ''Second, some people seem willing to play fast and loose with fundamental principles of our democratic system, namely the presumption of innocence and the separation of powers.
''Subject to the constitution, it is the voters who must decide who is in Parliament, not the Parliament itself. We only need to look at history to see the dangers of violating that principle. It's when the heat gets turned up that it's most important to defend fundamental principles of our democratic system and make sure Parliament does not become a court.''
Mr Oakeshott has mooted some kind of parliamentary disciplining of Mr Thomson, saying the episode has prompted him to reconsider the deal he made with the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, in 2010 that helped her to secure government.
But Mr Bandt, Bob Katter and Tony Windsor are deeply uncomfortable with the idea of Parliament passing judgment on Mr Thomson before any court action is taken.
The Tasmanian independent MP Andrew Wilkie said he wanted to hear Mr Thomson's side of the story before he made any decisions about what action to take. ''That is the next milestone in this dreadful saga and I think the public interest is best served by people like me keeping a cool head, being patient and not potentially throwing fuel on the fire by publicly musing on all the possible ins and outs of the issue,'' Mr Wilkie told The-Sun Herald.
Mr Thomson also said in his interview that union executives had access to his details and used them to put payments for prostitutes on his credit cards.
''The whole executive knew what my credit card numbers were,'' Mr Thomson said. ''My driver's licence was readily available.''
Mr Thomson was also critical of another former boss of the HSU, Michael Williamson. But in his maiden speech to Parliament in 2008, Mr Thomson described Mr Williamson as ''a marvel in relation to the long-term support he has provided to me''.
The Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, said Mr Thomson's claims were unbelievable.
''I don't think anyone believes his story,'' Mr Abbott said. ''Fair Work Australia didn't believe his story. I don't think the Australian public will believe his story either.''
The Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon, said Mr Thomson remained entitled to the presumption of innocence despite the damning report.
with Misha Schubert, Jim O'Rourke and Natalie O'Brien