How Thomson put an end to Mr Abbott’s nice guy act
The decorum of Tony Abbott’s Libs versus The Fibs election strategy revealed today didn’t last long.
The Opposition Leader presented a nicely-nicely persona, a bloke who wanted policy to the fore and who would not call Prime Minister Julia Gillard a liar. He would merely make broad references to fibs.
“So my pledge to you is that I won’t say one thing before an election and do the opposite afterwards because fibbing your way into office is what’s brought our public life into disrepute,” he told the National Press Club.
The man who late last year had said in Parliament that Ms Gillard was a “dodgy and unethical lawyer” because of her involvement in an AWU “slush fund” today made no mention of that episode and less mention of her personally.
But the news that former Labor MP Craig Thomson had been arrested in NSW on behalf of Victorian police ended the nicely-nicely pose. It was back to personality politics. The policies could wait.
“But the Thomson matter isn’t just about what Craig Thomson may or may not have done, what he did or didn’t do,” said Mr Abbott.
“It’s always been about the judgement of the Prime Minister.
“And you certainly can’t expect that there won’t be questions raised about prime ministerial judgement by the Coalition.”
It is unlikely that any court action against Mr Thomson would commence before the September 14 election, but that is little consolation for the Labor Government.
An MP if convicted of a crime carrying a potential penalty of a year in jail cannot stay in Parliament. Mr Thomson’s removal - following the resignation as Speaker by Peter Slipper which meant a Labor replacement had to be found - would wreck the minority government. But that stage won’t be reached before the election.
However, issues related to Mr Thomson and the HSU mess will be conspicuous and poisonous for Labor. They will fuel a significant part of Opposition policy, and no doubt some name calling.
“I support unions that are honestly managed and genuinely focussed on a fair deal for their members,” Mr Abbott said.
“That’s why a big part of the Coalition’s workplace policy will be tackling (any issues) in the Health Services Union and the Australian Workers Union.
“These are the sorts of measures that a less-compromised Labor government could introduce and that decent Labor people would support.”
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