Tuesday, 16th October 2012

A MAN APART

Craig Thomson is again on the front pages this morning, following Fair Work Australia's decision to lodge 62 civil charges against him, relating to alleged misuse of union funds between 2002 and 2007.

The case will begin December 7 and, it being a civil case, there's no danger of Thomson being tossed out of parliament if found guilty. He will be forced out only if a guilty verdict results in his bankruptcy, or if the government-controlled parliamentary privileges committee finds he misled parliament. Neither is likely to occur before the end of the parliamentary term next year.

For his part, Thomson will argue that the Fair Work Australia report on which the charges are based is a flawed document (a claim supported by an independent KPMG review). The charges may also be dismissed because the two-year statute of limitations for actions under the former Workplace Relations Act has been exceeded.

But there are other potential dangers for the government. Politically, the Thomson affair still stinks, and the government is still relying on his vote. And the police may yet lay criminal charges in the coming months. So on it goes.

Nick Feik
Politicoz Editor

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Thomson Faces Huge Fines In Fair Work Action

"The former Labor MP Craig Thomson faces being hit with $450,000 in fines and compensation payments to his old union under Federal Court proceedings brought against him by Fair Work Australia that include fresh claims about the use of prostitutes... If he is bankrupted by paying fines, compensation and legal costs, he would be disqualified (from Parliament), and the Gillard's government's hold on power imperilled."

How Action On Craig Thomson Could Hurt Labor

"Does the start of civil action against MP Craig Thomson by Fair Work Australia have any implications for the lifespan of the Gillard government, as opposed to public perceptions of its standards? Not really. MPs only lose their seats with a guilty finding on criminal charges. But there are two potential impacts on the government’s numbers in the House of Representatives flowing from FWA’s actions yesterday."

Abbott Keeps Mum On Boat Policy

"Opposition leader Tony Abbott did not raise his policy of towing back asylum seeker boats to Indonesian waters when he met the country's president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, in Jakarta last night… Neither Mr Abbott nor Dr Yudhoyono spoke after the approximately 30-minute meeting about what they had discussed, but Indonesian foreign minister Marty Natalegawa told reporters that 'that specific modality, that specific possibility,' was not raised by Mr Abbott."

China Fetish Misses Asia Completely

"In recent years, Australian business people, politicians and commentators have been in something of a China frenzy. The country has been neglecting the risks and has been obsessed with the opportunities of China's runaway growth. (But) an obsession with China blinds us to the possibilities in the rest of the region. And what a region it is."

Offshore Standoff

"The Australian government appears to be entering a stand-off with the United Nations Refugee Agency over its treatment of asylum seekers...The tensions have been exacerbated by the first suicide attempt of an asylum seeker being held on Nauru since the government implemented its so-called Pacific Solution to boat arrivals in August... The backlog of asylum seekers being held within Australia and on Nauru awaiting the processing of their claims for refugee status is now building up into the thousands."

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