Labor MP Craig Thomson's explanation of his alleged misuse of union funds cannot be believed and is only being maintained as an alibi so Prime Minister Julia Gillard can continue to rely on his support in parliament, Opposition leader Tony Abbott said in Sydney today,
In his first public explanation of allegations against him while a senior official of the Health Services Union, Mr Thomson denied any wrongdoing, accusing a rival official of setting him up in an elaborate plot involving prostitutes in order to ruin his political career.
But Mr Abbott said at a Sydney press conference today: "I don't think anyone believes his story. Fair Work Australia didn't believe his story and I don't think the Australian public will believe his story either."
"This story is to essentially to provide the Prime Minister with an alibi. It's all about giving Julia Gillard an alibi so she can keep clinging to his vote (in parliament).
"Really the question for the Prime Minister is 'did Craig Thomson tell her himself this story and is that why, for so many months, she has been declaring full confiedence in Craig Thomson'.
"Mr Thomson must now provide a complete and candid explanation to the parliament, to the people of Australia and those agencies investigating "this whole sordid squalid mess.", Mr Abbott said
Mr Thomson said he will make an explanation to parliament when it resumes later this month.
Mr Abbott was in the Top Ryde City Shopping Centre to visit a seafood shop to attack the government over the carbon tax and its effect on retail overheads such as electricity and transport costs.
Trade Minister Craig Emerson says investigations against Mr Thomson should be allowed to run their course and the opposition should not set itself up as judge and jury.
Dr Emerson said Mr Thomson was under investigation but had not been charged.
‘‘Let those investigation take their course and let’s not have politicians appointing themselves as judge and jury,’’ he told Sky News.
‘‘Let the independent agencies, whether it be the police or anyone else who has a legitimate interest in these as independent agencies, do their work without the parliament being heavied by Mr Abbott saying there now needs to be a vote to exclude Mr Thomson from the parliament.’’
Dr Emerson accused the coalition of applying a double standard.
He said three MPs in the former government faced investigation for theft from the Commonwealth through misuse of printing entitlements.
‘‘At no stage did Labor say they are not entitled to vote,’’ he said.
‘‘Mr Abbott as leader of the house and Mr Howard as prime minister said ... they were entitled to the presumption of innocence and the investigative processes should be able to go to conclusion. It’s the same principle.’’
Dr Emerson said he sincerely hoped the parliament didn’t go down the path where politicians could vote other politicians out of parliament and deny the people of their electorate representation because of some allegation.
‘‘That would be terribly destructive for our democracy,’’ he said.