Thomson’s lynch mob left frustrated for another day
It’s been so long coming that release of the report into credit card use within the Health Services Union is being hailed as a huge stride in resolving this lingering, messy controversy.
But all we’ve done is slip from one inquiry into another, after which there might be yet another examination of the facts, this time in a court. And we don’t yet know what those facts are.
The Fair Work Australia report filled 1100 pages. It is possible that not one of those pages contains evidence of criminal activity by Labor MP Craig Thomson - the former HSU national secretary - despite the fears of the Government and the hopes of the Opposition.
The frustrated Thomson lynch mobs, panting for the chance to string him up, might be denied the opportunity by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions who now is looking at the details of the FWA report.
But even should Mr Thomson face charges recommended by the DPP, it could take years before his conviction, or before he is cleared. It is a fair bet that any conviction/clearance would not happen before the election scheduled for late next year.
And it also would be a handy wager to back the Liberals to take his central NSW coast seat of Dobell at that scheduled general election.
So it is likely Mr Thomson will not be leaving Parliament except at the request of the voters of Dobell, and the stability of the minority Labor government will be maintained.
However, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott will make full and effective use of the delivery of the report, and of any charges against Mr Thomson should they be laid.
He will use Parliament to link Prime Minister Julia Gillard to the man who she at least twice said she had full confidence in.
And any charges will be used by Mr Abbott to taint the ALP generally, as well as the trade union movement. All will be painted with guilt by association, even if Mr Thomson himself is not found guilty by law.
The harder and nastier the Opposition pushes the Thomson affair, the more the ALP will want to be hard and nasty in response.
We still, even with the delivery of the FWA report, do not know how this controversy will end. But we won’t have a pleasant time as we wait to reach the final destination.
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