This is my theory. Were it not for Thommo and the hookers, there would be no Royal Commission into union corruption.
And if it were not for Thommo suing Fairfax for defamation, the whole story might have died.
Of course, Thommo suing Fairfax for defamation (surely, he knew he would lose) was part of his tactic to retain pre-selection in Dobell and be reelected in 2010.
And, once re-elected and with a minority government in place, Gillard and her comrades had no choice but to back him, all the while knowing that he was a complete crud who, in other circumstances, would have been expelled from the party and forgotten.
My feeling is that the public have always known that blue-collar unionists are a tough lot, but the mixture of a union official representing low-paid health workers and his misusing union funds to purchase the services of prostitutes – that’s another thing, altogether.
And, so the ball started to roll – and not in a way favourable to the union movement or Labor.
Here’s an informative piece from the Canberra Times:
When The Sydney Morning Herald political correspondent Mark Davis revealed in April 2009 that Craig Thomson was being investigated for using his union credit card to pay for escort services and to withdraw cash, the response was swift.
“I am confident that both the independent audit and the Industrial Registrar will find no basis for these allegations,” the Labor MP and Health Services Union secretary said.
So confident, in fact, that he issued a writ against the Herald for defamation a week later.
It was to become the first chapter in a bizarre saga lasting nearly five years, in which Thomson has protested his innocence, in Parliament, before the media, and even through the mouth of his solicitor.
But on Tuesday, Victorian magistrate Charlie Rozencwajg found Thomson guilty of charges related to using union funds for sexual services, of making cash withdrawals with his union-issued credit card, of buying cigarettes and firewood for his then wife, Christa, and for some charges related to paying for travel for her.
Those at court said the 49-year-old showed little emotion. But why should we be surprised? Thomson’s capacity of self-deception and deception of his colleagues and the Australian public suggest he either lives in a parallel universe or is an actor worthy of a gold statue.
The defamation suit came and went, and if you listened to Thomson, it was a vindication of his innocence.
He told the Fair Work Australia investigation he had settled the case because he had been able to prove he was not in Sydney at the relevant times. He also said that Fairfax Media had engaged a handwriting expert who had concluded his signature on credit card vouchers at the escort agencies had been forged.
Neither of these claims was true. One month later the Herald reported Thomson had dropped the case and that preliminary legal argument revealed his driver’s licence number was noted on the credit card vouchers issued by Keywed Pty Ltd, a Surry Hills brothel. The vouchers also contained a signature in Thomson’s name.
We also reported that Thomson’s mobile phone showed two calls to numbers associated with the agency. The bills also show the location of the phone as someone driving from Bateau Bay on the central coast to Sydney on the date the credit card was used at the agency.
Thomson emailed his federal colleagues telling them he had been defamed again and was planning to sue the Herald over “grossly inaccurate and misleading reporting”.
“It is clear that Fairfax have both defamed me again and breached and misrepresented a confidential deed that settled the matter between me and Fairfax,” he wrote.
In May 2012, after a two-year inquiry, the Fair Work Commission concluded that Thomson had repeatedly provided false and misleading information during the course of a long investigation into the national office of the Health Services Union.
“I can only conclude that it was indeed Mr Thomson who used his credit card to spend the amount of $5793 for the procurement of escort services,” Terry Nassios, the director for organisations, research and advice, said in the 1105-page report.
“Mr Thomson claims that these transactions were incurred fraudulently by another person using his credit cards.
“However, the following matters overwhelmingly support an inference that it was Mr Thomson who used his own credit cards to make these transactions,” he said.
For example, $2475 was spent on Sydney Escorts run by Keywed in April 2005. Seven separate transactions were processed by Keywed between April 7 and April 9, 2007 but they were spread between Thomson’s two union credit cards, a Diners and a CBA MasterCard.
He was also found to have provided false or misleading information about the $103,000 in cash withdrawals made during the period he was national secretary.
After the report came out, Thomson went into Parliament to make a personal explanation.
“Since these allegations were first raised I have consistently and on many occasions made it clear that I have done nothing wrong. I have, in fact, wanted to make a statement for some time but sought counsel – including legal advice – and took that advice not to make a statement. Can I say that is something that I probably regret in hindsight.”
“The Fair Work report, can I point out, is the report of one man on the national office of the union. Its so-called findings amount to no more than assertions.”
“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,” he said.
Thomson said that one enemy, Marco Bolano, had said “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”. In October 2012 Thomson instructed his new solicitor to take up his cause.
“Our client has never used other people’s money or his own money to pay people for sex with him. Anyone who says the opposite will be sued,” Chris McArdle said.
McArdle said police took handwriting samples which would prove Thomson did not sign for payments “at houses of ill repute”.
Faced with the mounting evidence, the Gillard government was forced to banish Thomson to the cross benches. But it continued to take his vote and on one occasion paid his legal fees of $150,000 to avoid him becoming a bankrupt.
It has been the media, notably the Herald’s Kate McClymont, that have persevered with getting to the truth of the matter. Even when Thomson was claiming that black was white.