What Thomson told the Parliament v what his lawyer told the court

An extract from the Hansard:

Turning to credit cards and escorts, I have consistently from day one denied any wrongdoing in relation to these issues. I make it clear—and I hope I have already by painting a picture—that I had many enemies in the HSU, many enemies who did not like increased transparency, many enemies who preferred that there be no national office. I was the subject on numerous occasions of threats and intimidation. I had my door of my office graffitied. The national office shared an office with other Victorian branches of the Health Services Union.

There was, though, a particular threat that was made that I thought was just part of the routine threats that were constantly made in working in this environment. That was a threat by Marco Bolano in words to the effect that he would seek to ruin any political career that I sought and would set me up with a bunch of hookers. This was a threat that started in Kathy Jackson’s office. The rant went right down the corridor and was witnessed by many people. It was then also the subject of a report. A letter was written to the Jacksons and to Michael Williamson complaining about this incident and putting, very importantly, this instance on record—on record when it occurred that there was this threat.

Later on, some years later, Michael Williamson said in front of a few witnesses, ‘This is the way we deal with people in the Health Services Union when we have problems.’ So we have the threat and, post facto, we have an admission. But Williamson went further. In the Daily Telegraph, a week ago on Saturday, he actually said he knew about this and it was commonplace in Victoria in relation to this union. So he made that absolutely clear. Of the seven occasions that are set out, three of them could not be me. There are alibis: on two occasions my being with other people, and on one occasion being in Perth and not being in Sydney for the month around the alleged incident.

I know that sitting up there we have a whole range of CSI journalists who think that they are the Inspector Clouseaus of the world—or perhaps that is how they really are—and they make these assumptions rather than report issues that are there. I want to try to help you with a couple of key areas that you have had difficulties with. The account details of my credit cards were known. They were reported. Everyone knew what my credit card account numbers were.

What we now read in The Australian:

Mr [Greg James QC] argued that the rules of the HSU did not define the boundaries of work-related expenditure, and because the expenses had been approved and paid, no party had been actually defrauded.

The AFR reports further:

Denials by former federal MP Craig Thomson in media interviews that he had used his union credit cards for brothels and escorts were his response to a “public attack” with the intention of trying to save his “failing marriage, public image, parliamentary seat, political candidature”, a court has heard.

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71 Responses to What Thomson told the Parliament v what his lawyer told the court

  1. Token

    So will parliament sanction Thomson for this blatant abuse of his position?

    If they do not it removes all possible limits on politicians using their extraordinary right to defame without consequence.

    Given that, the fact parliament did not act to remove Tony Winsor after his attack on John Anderson indicates the right should be removed.

  2. Tintarella di Luna

    Oh so the HSU membership hasn’t been defrauded? What about them? So does that mean all the millions stolen by Michael Williamson will be forgiven because no-one was defrauded?

    Cometh Topsy Turvy land — oh hang on it’s here.

  3. Rabz

    … his response to a “public attack” with the intention of trying to save his “failing marriage, public image, parliamentary seat, political candidature”

    That worked out well for him, didn’t it?

    Now, about that little matter of misleading the Parliament …

  4. harrys on the boat

    Shagger will walk, and (not knowing the full legal details) that’s probably the correct outcome.

    But this should open up a multitude of charges from misleading parliament to an ATO investigation and possibly some civil action by the union members.

    Shagger needs to be ruined by this, with either his liberty taken away or reduced to living in a cardboard box.

  5. Nic

    It will all go into the forgettery. The ABC will be complicit in seeing to that.

  6. Gab

    It will all go into the forgettery. The ABC will be complicit in seeing to that.

    That’s assuming the ABC has even reported on the Thomson saga over the past three or four years.

  7. cynical1

    “Denials by former federal MP Craig Thomson in media interviews that he had used his union credit cards for brothels and escorts were his response to a “public attack” with the intention of trying to save his “failing marriage, public image, parliamentary seat, political candidature”, a court has heard”.

    Yes, but the scum was willing to paint a decent man (Abbott) in a bad light to save himself by lying.

    Beneath contempt is our Craig.

    In days gone by, he would retire to the study with a drink and a revolver.

    With today’s lot, he’ll probably get a better gig..

  8. A Lurker

    Am I reading this right that he effectively lied to Parliament? If so, what sort of consequences should fall upon a man who was propped up by a minority Government who likely knew the truth (yet hid it), in order to retain his vote and remain in power.

    Mr [Greg James QC] argued that the rules of the HSU did not define the boundaries of work-related expenditure, and because the expenses had been approved and paid, no party had been actually defrauded.

    How interesting – I wonder what the lowly toilers and workers of the HSU think about their hard-earned payments to their Union (allegedly) being used on prostitutes, porn, dinners and the general high life, and the subsequent description of it all being called ‘work-related expenditure’.

    I know if I were them I’d be more than a bit narky about it.

    Also, I wonder what the ATO thinks about it being called ‘work-related expenditure’ and does this now open up an entire can of worms as to what could be considered legitimate ‘work-related expenditure’.

  9. candy

    I wonder if all the other unions don’t define boundaries of work related expenditure, so it’s a kind of free for all.

  10. Gab

    Also, I wonder what the ATO thinks about it being called ‘work-related expenditure’ and does this now open up an entire can of worms as to what could be considered legitimate ‘work-related expenditure’.

    Unions condone delegates visiting prostitutes using money defrauded gained from union dues? Does not surprise me one bit.

  11. C.L.

    Thomson was fully supported by Julia Gillard and Tanya Plibersek.

  12. Cold-Hands

    Am I reading this right that he effectively lied to Parliament?

    There is no doubt that he has lied to Parliament. Unfortunately, even if they throw the book at him by dragging him before the Bar of the House and charge him with contempt of Parliament, the greatest sanction he can now face is a fine of $5,000 and/or six months’ imprisonment. Small beer compared to what he got away with- tens of thousands of dollars and propping up a corrupt government for over 18 months. Also, the process is “subject to judicial interpretation” which amounts to almost a get-out-of-gaol-free card if a ALP-appointed judge gets to hear the review.

  13. Jannie

    I have not read or heard Thomson explicitly deny he used his CC to purchase hookers etc, but he has consistently said that he did nothing wrong (even while offering red herrings about a doppelganger using his CC) . The final line of defence was always predictable, according to the rules it was legal for him to use union funds for prostitues, because he was entitled to do it.

  14. Jazza

    So he’s lied either to the parliament or to the court, hasn’t he? What penalties will he face,as surely both those “lies” mean he has broken at least one law?

  15. Mollusc

    More joy for members of the HSU. If it is shown that the HSU provided all these wonderful benefits to Thomson then the only action the Tax Office can take is to charge the HSU the appropriate Fringe Benefits Tax + penalties + interest on these employer provided benefits.

  16. Jazza

    Oh should add, if he claims he was allowed to use the credit any which way, isn;t there a FBT to be paid and maybe some of the tax bill is also his,as his earnings would have been considerably higher than the taxable level he will have submitted to the ATO, presumably–don’t see the ATO allowing claims of paid sex as suitable as a work related expense!

  17. candy

    I think the HSU calls it a “comfort” expense, perhaps that’s why he says he’s done nothing wrong.

  18. Dan

    Mr [Greg James QC] argued that the rules of the HSU did not define the boundaries of work-related expenditure, and because the expenses had been approved and paid, no party had been actually defrauded.

    But the ATO does define work related expenses. Who is the higher authority here?

  19. The Pugilist

    Also, I wonder what the ATO thinks about it being called ‘work-related expenditure’ and does this now open up an entire can of worms as to what could be considered legitimate ‘work-related expenditure’.

    I’d go a step further and ask what ‘work’ does ‘union officialdom’ actually consist of? Aside from shagging each other, having lavish meals, using prostitutes (in an entirely non-misogynist way of course), scheming against one another, scheming with one another, placing shovels on doorsteps, punching horses, smashing up gift shops, etc., what do union officials actually do?

  20. lotocoti

    I’ve always maintained he’d skate on this, purely because the rules didn’t explicitly state that he couldn’t use the funds for a shagathon or any other grubby purpose.
    He and all his ilk will forever declare he did nothing wrong illegal.

  21. Habib

    I trust that if the beak lets Shagger walk, he’ll be summonsed by the parliamentary bar to face charges of contempt? Smart defence, pretty much guarantees a period in the pokey. Thommo may find what it’s like to receive what he so often gave.

    What’s it say about due diligence and propriety in the union movement that such a defence was regarded as viable? Or that such a creature (and Kiwi to boot) was suitable for any role, let alone a senior one?

  22. Mike of Marion

    If he is no longer an MP, what, if any, action the parliament may take is problematical. They probably won’t do anything.

  23. .

    I’ve always maintained he’d skate on this, purely because the rules didn’t explicitly state that he couldn’t use the funds for a shagathon or any other grubby purpose.

    If that’s a legal defence, then I have licence to do anything I’m told not to.

  24. Viva

    He and all his ilk will forever declare he did nothing wrong illegal.

    “I’ve done nothing wrong.”

    Where have we heard that before?

  25. candy

    If he “skates”on that defence would it not be a very poor look for any union in Australia? Surely they don’t want that to happen. He’s not a bozo, he knew what he was doing. He took lots of cash advances out too, not just one slip-up.

  26. johanna

    Mike of Marion, it doesn’t matter that he’s no longer am MP. Misleading Parliament is an offence no matter who does it or when. For example, a witness who lies to a Parliamentary committee is subject to sanctions.

    That said, whether they have the intestinal fortitude to do anything is another matter.

  27. Rabz

    He took lots of cash advances out too

    Yes, which the ATO was supposedly investigating, oh, about two years ago.

    Suffice to say, nothing came of that “high level” investigation.

  28. rafiki

    Note that the prosecutor relied on “[d]enials by former federal MP Craig Thomson in media interviews that he had used his union credit cards for brothels etc”, and not on denials in Parliament. She could not use tha letter because section 16(3) of the Parliamentray privileges Act 1987 provides: “In proceedings in any court or tribunal, it is not lawful for evidence to be tendered or received, questions asked or statements, submissions or comments made, concerning proceedings in Parliament, by way of, or for the purpose of: (a) questioning or relying on the truth, motive, intention or good faith of anything forming part of those proceedings in Parliament; (b) otherwise questioning or establishing the credibility, motive, intention or good faith of any person; or (c) drawing, or inviting the drawing of, inferences or conclusions wholly or partly from anything forming part of those proceedings in Parliament”. This provison was enacted in response to Lionel Murphy being questioned about what he said in Parliament when he was tried for perverting the course of justice. This rule is not tradituionally part of parliamentary privilege, and it is a restriction on the fundamental rule that all relevant evidence is admissble on a trial.

    So what Shagger said in Parliament can’t be used to show he lied in court, but it could be used for this purpose if he was brought to the bar of the Reps. I am inclined to think that all MPs would not be happy about this happening. Nor would many want repeal of section 16(3).

  29. thefrollickingmole

    Lets put this in perspective, either way this trial goes its grist for Abbotts mill.

    I know nothing of the judge, but even if he was a conservative the best thing he could do (for Abbott) is let Thomson walk.

    At the moment the unions have the tattered and bare figleaf of “its being dealt with by the courts’ to hide behind. That needs to be torn away and the real “the rules are what I say they are ‘cos Im boss” exposed.

    2nd best outcome is guilty on the majority of charges.
    Worst outcome would be a retrial/guilty of only a few charges, as then it will be squeals of “persecution” from the luuurvies.

    Either way though, Id imagine a lot of big companies HR departments guidelines for the use of credit cards/entitlements will need a little tightening up.

  30. tomix

    Craig Thomson on the courthouse steps after his acquittal: ” I am a victim of McCarthyism”

  31. ar

    Trade-off between penalty for misleading parliament and doing jail time for fraud… maybe he thinks the former is easier to cop?

  32. Fred Lenin

    The whole system is corrup’lawyers looking after lawyers corrupt politicians wishing to mai tain the self serving system they have created that is why they cover up wrongdoing am
    Nd do not punish criminal acts by their comrades No matter which so called party “rules” .I define a political party as a group of lawyers and self serving criminal bound together for mutual benefit and lying that they ” do it for their electorate” . Perhaps Gulags for politicians ,trade union crooks and their bikie mates The air would be cleaner.strip power from politicians and unio s and give it back where it belongs ,to the people,

  33. ar

    Lurker,

    what sort of consequences should fall upon a man who was propped up by a minority Government who likely knew the truth (yet hid it), in order to retain his vote and remain in power

    Presumably they don’t ask him to repay $350k in legal fees…

  34. Ant

    That an MP allegedly (still) abused credit card privileges to shag prostitutes and then lied about it is a scandal of small proportions.

    The real scandal is the political party which circled the wagons around him to protect their positions of power and privilege.

    For that, a good many of these bastards should be in jail.

  35. Ellen of Tasmania

    So, with all this information public now, why are there any HSU members left?

  36. Eyrie

    Pity the old tradition when utterly disgraced – retreat to study with bottle of whisky and a pistol – isn’t still in vogue.

  37. Andrew of Randwick

    Ellen of Tasmania #1172051, posted on January 30, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    So, with all this information public now, why are there any HSU members left?

    Because the EBA’s specify HSU and employees are not allowed to get another union to represent them – non competition clauses of the FWA.

  38. MT Isa Miner

    Rabz

    #1171995, posted on January 30, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    Shagger’s proudest moment.

    I got no idea why you gave him the fuzz but it was funny.

    I can’t stand to see his crying lying face but it should be on posters everywhere to remind us all what a lying **** he is.

  39. Andrew of Randwick

    Previously posted on January 28, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    Further, the exception that is set out in Sub-rule 36(b) is underpinned by two presumptions:
    … a. a body or person other than National Council or National Executive is permitted to expend funds of the HSU. While Sub-rule 36(b) does not specify which body or person is contemplated as expending those funds, it would not be inconsistent with Sub-rule 32(n) if such expenditure was made by the National Secretary; and
    … b. where funds are being expended other than on the general administration of the HSU (or for purposes that are not reasonably incidental to the general administration of the HSU), that body or person must seek the prior authority of National Council or National Executive.
    19. The Rules do not provide a definition or explanation of what constitutes the ‘general administration of the Union’….

    If expenses approved – then sweet.
    .
    But that is from a report the CDPP said:

    In sending the Report, Fair Work Australia considered that it raised many matters which may be appropriate for the DPP’s consideration. The material forwarded is not a brief of evidence [because they had not turned interview notes into affidavits] and as a consequence could not be assessed against the tests for prosecution that are contained in the Prosecution Policy of the Commonwealth.

    Statute of Limitations now expired on civil charges to get money back to HS, due to incompetence at FWA.
    .
    now it seems charges specified wrong victims. FMD.

  40. val majkus

    It would IMHO be surprising if the Magistrate did not accept that there was a implication attached to the credit cards that the use to which they were put was for HSU legitimate purposes

    The case against Craig Thomson could hinge on the wording of charges against him, with a barrister for the former federal MP arguing he had never claimed to be anyone other than the person authorised to use his union-issue credit cards and accounts

    The mythological other man has vanished in the mists of time
    Thomson’s been unveiled as a snake who’ll say anything that suits the purpose
    In his barrister’s words (as reported at the link above) his client did not obtain any property or financial advantage by deception during the period he was national secretary of the Health Services Union, from 2002 to 2007 BUT

    Mr Thomson did not deceive lending institutions because he had only ever used HSU credit cards and a Flight Centre account he was authorised to use.

    How self serving – especially when Thomson was the one to sign off on and thus authorise the payments

  41. johanna

    His QC, faced with an impossible task, has chosen to risk the wrath of the Parliamentary Privileges Committee over the wrath of the legal system.

    Probably a sound bet.

  42. Rabz

    Miner – I couldn’t find a link to the picture of him crying that worked, except that one.

  43. Free Advice

    What does Laurie Oaks now say about his “denial” interview with Thomson?
    He has been played for a fool, like Gillard did with Wilkee over the pokies.
    Useful idiot springs to mind.

  44. rafiki

    It may be that the Laurie Oakes interview will be critical. Shagger’s lies on that occasion are a basis for the prosecution to argue that Shagger knew that his expenses on the hookers were not authorised. It’s not a watertight argument by any means; we’ll have to wait to see what the Magistrate says.

  45. Squirrel

    A sad reminder of the regrettable soap opera of the last few years, and of the price the ALP pays for its hand in glove (some might say hand in puppet) relationship with the union movement. So there were no hints, doubts, inklings of any of this when Mr Thompson was pre-selected? – in much the same way, I suppose, as the “issues” about Kevin Rudd didn’t become apparent until he was PM, and no one could have possibly guessed hitherto.

    I hope the Government has the good sense to keep alive the broader issues raised by this case, while leaving it to the legal processes to deal with the details. Makes a candidate who is a bit sketchy…..about party policies look quite good, by comparison.

  46. boy on a bike

    Also, I wonder what the ATO thinks about it being called ‘work-related expenditure’ and does this now open up an entire can of worms as to what could be considered legitimate ‘work-related expenditure’

    .

    Can they define shagging hookers as a “fringe benefit?”

    In that case, he’s toast.

  47. johanna

    Good point, Squirrel.

    Eddie Obeid, Ian Macdonald – all served under our departed and unlamented Foreign Minister Bob Carr when he was Premier. Meanwhile, in Victoria and WA, a “young and naive” lawyer was involved in dodgy dealings. Meanwhile, in Queensland, Bill Ludwig – but I’ll stop here in deference to Sinclair’s preference for not getting sued.

    It is not rotten apples in a barrel, it is a pattern.

    BTW, let’s hope that the latest revelations finally nail that thug and criminal, Setka. And I don’t think that Sinc is under any threat there, given that truth is a defence.

  48. Token

    What does Laurie Oaks now say about his “denial” interview with Thomson?
    He has been played for a fool, like Gillard did with Wilkee over the pokies.
    Useful idiot springs to mind.

    Jabba wouldn’t care. It is not as if he’ll ever be held to account.

  49. .

    It is not rotten apples in a barrel, it is a pattern.

    The tree of knowledge is rotten. As is the barrel.

  50. Andrew

    Lets put this in perspective, either way this trial goes its grist for Abbotts mill.

    Doubt it. Assume the beak accepts the argument “You had tacit endorsement by the HSU to use your card for taking your ALP mates to the True Thai brothel on ‘business.’” No fraud was committed.

    The ALPBC, Fewfacts will sing “Thomson cleared” and replay the skit of him in Parliament crying “Abbottabbottabbott666″ – the ultralow information voter will hear only that message and not the details. (I actually had ULIVs claiming on Facebook that Thomson was exonerated – by Thomson’s OWN speech!)

    The Greens will call for Abbott666 to resign. And Abbott666 will be fighting uphill against the propaganda machine the whole way.

    trying to save his “failing marriage, public image, parliamentary seat, political candidature”

    Here I was thinking his marriage failed because he was cheating on Christa with Zoe Arnold (who, based on the July 2009 DOB, he knocked up in 2008, 2 months before the HSU auditors discovered his brothel-creeping antics on the work card). Turns out here’s yet another thing that was actually caused by A666!

  51. entropy

    It should t be about whether it benefits Abbott or not. It is about cleaning out from our institutions those who serve themselves rather than the people.

  52. Anthony

    Habib: What’s it say about due diligence and propriety in the union movement that such a defence was regarded as viable? Or that such a creature (and Kiwi to boot) was suitable for any role, let alone a senior one?
    Habib, it says that in the unions they have never heard about the bloke on the Clapham omnibus.

  53. Steve of Glasshouse

    Remember the good old days when a teddy bear could cause you to lose your job?

  54. Docket62

    Mr [Greg James QC] argued that the rules of the HSU did not define the boundaries of work-related expenditure, and because the expenses had been approved and paid, no party had been actually defrauded.

    Nope… The offence requires the offender to ‘obtain a financial advantage by deception’. The fact that the brothels used unusual names so they don’t flag as a brothel (for obvious reasons) would allow the people paying the bills to pay them without question. In addition he would have exerted influence to ensure these accounts were paid, probably at the behest of Williamson. The deception exists, and the victim is the HSU office that issued the credit card. thus the only point of proof remaining is that of ‘dishonestly’… He admits to the use of the card but denies it was dishonest, because of ‘implied’ consent. That consent was denied by the members of the HSU who stated under oath that the use of the cards are defined and hookers etc don’t form part of the allowances… Ergo.. The services were obtained ‘dishonestly’ and with a level of deception

    Nice try mr James! but IMHO no cigar.

  55. If no one was defrauded, and he was entitled to use the cards as he saw fit, why didn’t Thomson stand up in Parliament and simply say so?

    He was given ample opportunity to do so, over and over again in the media and at the police station and elsewhere.

    Yet this very simple explanation has cost us some half a million in legal fees – via the ALP via the union movement via the taxpayer.

  56. And again, if it was all above board, why did Thomson spend part of his speech listing Kathy Jackson’s payouts and awards, without at any time saying ‘ … and of course, given this, I believed that I was entitled to use HSU credit cards for my own purposes as well.’

    So easy. So very easy. And then there would have been no trouble at all, would there.

  57. .

    Well said Docket. The idea you need to be told its wrong to misappropriate monies, is utter crap no jury would buy.

  58. Fisky

    The Leftist Establishment will try to massage any acquittal on technicalities to “Thomson is innocent of using credit cards in brothels” to “See? There’s no corruption in the unions at all!!!”

    Just watch.

  59. There’s also a strong thread in Thomson’s behaviour.

    He uses the HSU cards to get things that aren’t actually written down anywhere as – and in any reasonable person’s mind would not be considered as – valid expenses, thus saving himself a considerable outlay in booze, fags, plane tickets and professional ladies.

    He impregnates a young lady who is then able to avoid stamp duty when buying a house in early 2009 as a ‘single’ ‘first home owner’, only for Thomson to move in a week later.

    He forms a bond in 2005 with a prostitute known as ‘Misty’, and asks for her private number so that he can call her to set up meetings without going through the agency – and paying the booking fee.

    It would seem that if there is a way of saving a few bob, Craig is the man who can find that way.

  60. johanna

    Nice free character appraisal, Philippa.

    Not a chap I’d want a female relative or friend to be anywhere near.

  61. Andrew

    It would seem that if there is a way of saving a few bob, Craig is the man who can find that way.

    Pity Rudd-Gillard-Rudd didn’t find a way to harness this other talent during the 6 years of $400bn p.a. waste-athon.

  62. Notafan

    Gives the Government strong grounds to subject Unions and Union officials to the same rules as companies and company directors, doesn’t it?

  63. Pity Rudd-Gillard-Rudd didn’t find a way to harness this other talent during the 6 years of $400bn p.a. waste-athon.

    My thoughts exactly, Andrew. Craig was just the man for the Productivity Commission. Or Ford Australia.

  64. Having said that, I think the problem is whose money is being saved.

    In Graeme Wood’s case with the Global Mail, he is free to ask that taxpayers’ money prop up failing Australian industries, while resolutely avoiding propping up his own failing industry with his own money.

    In Craig Thomson’s case with his expenditure, he is free to insist that union dues and other perks were legitimately put towards alleviating any burden on his own pocket.

  65. cynical1

    “Thomson denials were responses, not lies”: QC.

    The headline in AFR.

    That QC has either got balls down to his knees, or for brains…

  66. John Williams

    Nearly all commentators miss the central point.
    Was Craig Thompson’s use of the union credit card morally wrong?
    Was Craig Thompson’s use of the union credit card illegal ?
    Clearly the answer to the first question is “Yes”.
    But the answer to the second is equally clear… “No”.
    There were (reportedly) no constraints on the use of the credit card.
    Thus this is nothing more than a lawyer’s picnic and a flagrant waste of public money.
    In no way can..or should…this be viewed as support of Thompson.

  67. MT Isa Miner

    John Williams

    #1173129, posted on January 31, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    Nearly all commentators miss the central point.
    Was Craig Thompson’s use of the union credit card morally wrong?
    Was Craig Thompson’s use of the union credit card illegal ?
    Clearly the answer to the first question is “Yes”.
    But the answer to the second is equally clear… “No”.
    There were (reportedly) no constraints on the use of the credit card.
    Thus this is nothing more than a lawyer’s picnic and a flagrant waste of public money.
    In no way can..or should…this be viewed as support of Thompson.

    It’s not that we/I miss it.

    I understand perfectly f’ing well. I just don’t f’ing LIKE it.

    I want revenge.

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