Thomson's preselection in doubt
On the outside ... Craig Thomson yesterday after announcing he was leaving the Labor Party to become an independent. Photo: Nick Moir
Embattled MP Craig Thomson's career in federal politics seems unlikely to extend past the next election.
This morning, NSW ALP general secretary Sam Dastyari said he did not think it was likely Mr Thomson would represent Labor in the central coast seat of Dobell in the election set for 2013.
Julia Gillard sidelined Mr Thomson at the weekend, asking him to relinquish his ALP membership and move from the Labor backbench to the crossbenches.
Mr Thomson faces allegations that he misused union funds when he was national secretary of the Health Services Union before entering federal parliament in 2007. He denies the allegations.
This morning, Mr Dastyari told ABC radio that the issue would likely rule him out of the next election.
"I can't imagine it being resolved any time soon. It seems like it's going to drag on for a few more years," he said.
Mr Dastyari said it was the Prime Minister's decision to sideline Mr Thomson and that Mr Thomson had not previously talked to him about moving to the crossbenches.
"The Prime Minister came back from her trip [to Singapore and Turkey] and decided enough is enough."
Fair Work Australia is expected to release the report of its three-year investigation into financial and governance irregularities within the HSU through a Senate Committee next month. Victorian police are investigating claims Mr Thomson used union funds to obtain cash withdrawals without authorisation and that he spent union funds on prostitutes, with NSW police also investigating allegations of corruption within the HSU East branch.
Mr Thomson has been in contact with Mr Dastyari in recent days. After speaking to Ms Gillard at the weekend, he then rang the NSW general secretary and asked for his Labor membership to be suspended.
Yesterday, Mr Thomson told reporters that he expected to be able to return to the Labor caucus soon.
"I'm very confident that at some stage in the near future I will be ringing Sam and saying, 'these matters have now been resolved and I'm coming back to the Labor caucus,"' he said.
It is understood that Mr Thomson is philosophical about the likelihood he will not be contesting the next election as Labor's candidate in Dobell.
In the wake of Mr Thomson's move to the crossbench, the Opposition are claiming that the government should not be relying on the Member for Dobell's "tainted" vote in Parliament.
This morning, Environment Minister Tony Burke dismissed the argument.
"He's an elected member of Parliament and the people of Dobell have him as their representative," Mr Burke told ABC Radio.
"There's no serious precedent that Tony Abbott can claim on that."