The independent member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, has issued a statement on Craig Thomson in which he says it would be improper for the Parliament to act as judge and jury.
Wilkie provides a clear statement of the constitutional situation set out in Section 44 of the Constitution.
A STATEMENT FROM ANDREW WILKIE REGARDING CRAIG THOMSON
I think the Craig Thomson saga stinks. But my personal view is largely irrelevant.
According to the principles of natural justice he’s innocent until proven guilty and entitled to a fair hearing. So unless the findings against him have been tested in a properly constituted court, where he has the opportunity to defend himself, we must accord him the presumption of innocence no matter how much that grates.
Moreover according to the Constitution Craig Thomson is eligible to remain in the Parliament until and unless he’s found guilty of a criminal offence punishable by a year or more imprisonment. If his circumstances or any other issue highlights shortfalls in that provision then the Parliament needs to consider seeking to change it.
In fact it could reasonably be argued Craig Thomson has the right to remain in the Parliament free of intimidation, if only by virtue of the Crimes Act 1914 Section 28 which imposes a penalty of three year’s imprisonment for interfering with political liberty.
Frankly the Parliament isn’t a court and for it to think it’s judge and jury when dealing with Craig Thomson would be entirely improper.
What the Parliament should now focus on is restoring the trust and respect of the Australian community. Yes, there is widespread and understandable concern with the controversy surrounding Craig Thomson. But there’s much more concern with all the grand political game-playing going on right now. And there’s much greater interest in the Government getting on and running the country well, and in the Opposition showing it’s a credible alternative.