PM tells Abbott to 'knock off ' Thomson hypocrisy
Julia Gillard has defended her government's reliance on Craig Thomson's vote, telling Tony Abbott to ''knock off the hypocrisy''.
The Coalition has been pressuring the government to disown Mr Thomson's vote in the parliament, with the Opposition Leader also calling on the member for Dobell to quit his NSW central coast seat.
Pressure on Mr Thomson has increased this week with the release of the 1100 page Fair Work Australia report, that found the former Labor MP spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of union money on hospitality, election expenses and escort services.
Craig Thomson who has been found by Fair Work Australia to have spent HSU funds on prostitutes and his election campaign in the NSW seat of Dobell. Photo: Louie Douvis
Key independents Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott have since said they have serious concerns with the Thomson matter. Today, Mr Winsdor said he needed to ''do a bit more homework'' before deciding how he will deal with the issue in the future.
Mr Thomson continues to deny the civil allegations he misused union funds during his time at the helm of the Health Services Union between 2002 and 2007.
This morning, the Prime Minister said she was ''deeply, deeply disturbed'' by the Fair Work report but slapped down Mr Abbott's calls for the government to disown Mr Thomson's vote. ''We've never in the nation's history in a parliament excluded someone from voting because they are the subject of allegations that they deny,'' Ms Gillard told Sky News this morning.
Ms Gillard said that Mr Abbott's stance on the Thomson issue was ''political convenience'' because he had previously used the vote of Coalition MPs who had faced criminal allegations, such as South Australian senator Mary Jo Fisher. ''He has accepted a vote of someone who is charged with and subsequently found guilty of theft and assault,'' she said.
The Prime Minister warned that removing Mr Thomson from the parliament would set a dangerous precedent, particularly when governments have big majorities.
''Are we really going to move to a system where someone who can get a majority on the floor can kick out another member and stop them voting because they are the subject of allegations that they deny?'' she said.
''It doesn't work, its not right, it can't possibly happen like that ... Mr Abbott should knock off the hypocrisy.''
Mr Thomson is now sitting on the crossbenches of the House of Representatives, having handed back his ALP membership last week in light of the allegations he faces.
Yesterday, the Opposition moved a motion to try and have Mr Thomson suspended form Parliament for 14 days but the vote was lost 70 to 72.