Not Craig Thomson

I’ve come to admire Craig Thomson. Like many people, I underestimated him at first, writing him off as an ordinary, flawed person in an extraordinary situation, frozen into an agonised pose by the carbonite of a hung parliament. But he’s not an ordinary person. His appeal this week for the public to crowd-source his legal defence means he has now ingested so much disgrace he’s immune to it, like a kind of shame ninja. I sent him $5.

Source of some of the most thrillingly inverted takes on reality since Comical Ali, the Member for Dobell greets every disaster as a triumph in disguise. This week a court adjourned parts of a civil case so he can concentrate on criminal charges, news that was celebrated like a Royal Pardon. When his defamation case collapsed leaving him $200,000 in costs, this was marked down as a ‘settlement’. Win! Thomson responded to Tony Abbott’s calls for him to resign by suggesting Tony Abbott resign, for calling on Craig Thomson to resign (Abbott was ‘unfit to be an MP’). It’s hard to choose just one of these unabashed performances as a favourite. I’m a big fan of his throwaway description of a police raid on his home as ‘routine’, as though cops turn up on your doorstep all the time, like Mormons.

Thomson could have crowd-sourced a gumshoe effort to find those responsible for spending union money on prostitutes, but he didn’t need to. In his one-hour speech to Parliament he went one better than OJ and said he’d found the real perps already. These supervillains had been involved in a five-year conspiracy to set him up with CIA-level phone hacking, perfect signature forgeries, and the ability to access his wallet, bank account and hotel room at will in at least three different cities. For union heavies, it was quite a step up from the old shovel on the doorstep. How had they done it? It was ‘very simple’, he told Laurie Oakes, but didn’t elaborate. Why had they done it? They hated him because he was a campaigner for transparency. Of course. Who were they? He wasn’t telling.

Report on the fruits of this diabolical conspiracy, and you’ll get a writ. But when it comes to the conspirators themselves, Thomson seems uncharacteristically forgiving. He declined to report them to police or even name them directly, instead subjecting the people who destroyed his life to the full force of a stern talking-to behind closed doors. Perhaps they’ve promised not to do it again. It’s rare to come across real-life scenarios that would be made more plausible by the involvement of Jason Bourne, but this is a very unusual real-life scenario.

Craig Thomson will get his day in courts, and until then he is entitled to approximately 150 presumptions of innocence. In the meantime, inspired by his supporters’ example, I’ve established a modest funding goal of my own. It’s dedicated to a cause close to my heart – making sure union officials are able to pay for prostitutes without the embarrassment of digging into membership dues from some of the lowest paid workers in Australia. I’ve called it the Not Craig Thomson Prostitution Fund, just for clarity. To reiterate, this has nothing to do with Craig Thomson. Please consider a donation – it may be the second least worthy cause you support this week.

Richard Cooke

Richard Cooke is The Monthlys contributing editor. 


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