Date: May 15 2012
CRAIG Thomson should be out of the Parliament if he is convicted of a serious civil offence, independent Tony Windsor has said.
But under the present parliamentary provisions there would be no mechanism for that to happen, said Mr Windsor, who is arguing for broadening the current grounds for automatic disqualification, which currently only exclude people found guilty of a criminal offence carrying at least a year's jail and bankrupts.
The parliament can suspend MPs but not expel them. Fair Work Australia findings of Mr Thomson's breach of civil law are being referred to the federal court.
One issue that would have to be grappled with in the change he proposed was what constituted "serious", Mr Windsor said.
Cabinet minister Simon Crean said this morning that Labor should not preselect Craig Thomson for the next federal election unless the MP is cleared of any wrongdoing.
He also said Labor should have asked more questions about the member for Dobell before he was endorsed as its candidate for the 2010 election.
Mr Thomson has been suspended from the Labor caucus while Fair Work Australia prepares to take civil court action against him.
''If he's not cleared before preselections are held, I can't see him being preselected,'' Mr Crean told Sky News.
''He shouldn't be.''
Meanwhile the opposition is planning to try to put Speaker Peter Slipper on the spot by proposing that Mr Thomson's failure to list ALP financial help with his legal costs on the MPs' register within the required 28 days is a breach of parliamentary privilege.
Under standing orders, privilege matters are handled initially by the Speaker. Deputy Speaker Anna Burke is taking the chair while allegations against Mr Slipper are deal with by the police and the federal court, but she has not been officially designated Acting Speaker.
Manager of opposition business Christopher Pyne said the Coalition "views with alarm the prospect of Speaker Slipper ruling on the privileges matter involving Craig Thomson. It highlights the absurdity of the current arrangement where Anna Burke is in the chair but not the acting Speaker."
The Coalition would take "whatever action is needed to protect the integrity of the House".
- WITH AAP
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