Electorate cold on new bench-warmer
Asking questions, avoiding answers ... Craig Thomson after addressing the media yesterday. He said he and the Prime Minister had agreed that going to the crossbenches was the ''appropriate thing to do''. Photo: Nick Moir
CRAIG THOMSON proudly boasts that the people of the central coast have backed him for the four long years in which his name has been dragged through the muck heap.
But not retired bank accountant Geoff Williams, who stood outside the member for Dobell's electorate office yesterday brandishing a rubber sex aid and suggesting Mr Thomson ''stop stuffing the Australian government and go stuff yourself''. Police told him his prop was offensive and ordered him to leave.
Inside, Mr Thomson refused to acknowledge he had been given similar orders by Julia Gillard. Instead, he sought to portray the Saturday night phone call that led to his move to the crossbenches as a meeting of minds. Apparently, the only fury lay in the intensity of their agreement although - somewhat confusingly - they reached the same answer ''for different reasons''.
Looking sharp in the standard issue ALP charcoal suit, Mr Thomson opened his press conference with a pair of rhetorical questions - why today and how did the decision come about - then went to great lengths not to answer them.
''I spoke to the Prime Minister last night and we agreed that, for her reasons and for my reasons, that was the appropriate thing to do,'' he said. But as to what reasons, why the urgency and at whose insistence, Mr Thomson had little to offer.
Ms Gillard said she had moved because Australians could see a dark cloud hanging over the Australian Parliament. Grey clouds draped the Tuggerah Westfield shopping centre, which houses Mr Thomson's office, but many of those shoppers seeking refuge from showers and Sunday chores appeared uninterested in the day's development.
But those who care appear to loathe him. ''He's a grub,'' Peter Coulton said. ''I think it's a Julia Gillard con to distance his troubles from the Labor Party.''
''He should just quit altogether, go out gracefully,'' Amber Davis said. ''He's not a good representative for the community; he's an embarrassment.''
Mr Thomson, who maintains his innocence, can see the embarrassment the inquiries into the Health Services Union have caused the government. Benched he is, but he expects to be called back into play as soon as the matters are finally resolved.
Until then, there is the embrace of family and the dictum attributed to Marie Antoinette to soothe any disappointment at having to temporarily renounce the Labor faith.
''Life has a way of balancing out,'' he tweeted yesterday afternoon. ''Now at home playing with kids while beautiful wife bakes a cake.''
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