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.
Craig Thomson has delivered a 59 minute statement to the House of Representatives defending himself against allegations of misuse of Health Services Union funds.
Thomson’s speech began with a lengthy history of his working career with the union and his work as the Labor member for Dobell.
He attacked the veracity of the Fair Work Australia report and quoted the Australian Electoral Commission’s report with approval.
Thomson repeated his earlier claims that he had been set up by his factional enemies in the union. He named the deputy secretary of the HSU, Marco Bolano, as the person who threatened to set him up with “hookers”.
He maintained that he was elsewhere at times he was alleged to be with prostitutes.
Thomson attacked Kathy Jackson at length over her activities within the union.
Thomson also attacked the media for its coverage of the HSU issues, at one point providing a list of journalists he respected. He broke into tears when he claimed photographers had attempted to take pictures of his pregnant wife whilst she was showering.
Tony Abbott should “hang his head in shame”, Thomson said in conclusion, attacking the Opposition Leader over his attitude to the presumption of innocence. “He is unfit to be prime minister, he is unfit to be an MP.”
- Listen to Thomson’s speech (59m)
- Download a PDF copy of Thomson’s speech
Transcript of Craig Emerson’s statement to the House of Representatives:
‘Go cut your wrists or, better still, hang yourself.’ ‘Go out the back, cut your throat—that’s the only way.’ ‘Have you slashed your wrists yet?’ ‘You are dead. A bullet between the eyes will save taxpayers’ money.’ ‘You have unleashed the lynch mob and you have fanned it and for that you’re, ultimately, responsible.’
These are the types of emails, letters and phone calls that my family, myself and my staff have received. 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, sought advice, from a variety of people—including legal advice—and took that advice not to make a statement. Can I say that is something that I probably regret in hindsight. I did not realise that this was going to go four years, but once that decision had been taken, of course, then the next opportunity to speak really is when a report is concluded—and Fair Work have done that.
In making this statement I am very conscious that in the eyes of many of the public I have already been charged, convicted and sentenced. The public will hold these views because of the quite extraordinary media coverage which has taken place. I, like every member of this House, understand and value the importance of an independent and robust news media and the important place that it can play in our democracy. However, all of us who have regular dealings with the news media know that the news media can often get it wrong, and sometimes seriously so—particularly as today the media is dominated by self-important commentators, not reporters, and I will say a little bit more about that later. So I think it is important to once again remind the House that I have not been the subject of any conviction, not even the subject of any legal proceedings; none of the allegations have been tested in any court or tribunal. [Read more...]
8.00pm – Thirty-eight years ago tonight, the Whitlam Labor government won re-election to its second term.
The early election took place just 18 months after the ALP’s historic 1972 victory. It occurred after Whitlam’s abortive attempt to secure an additional Senate vacancy by appointing DLP Senator Vince Gair as Ambassador to Ireland. The coalition threatened to block Supply, so Whitlam opted for a double dissolution.
The ALP polled 49.3% of the primary vote. It was returned to government with a net loss of one seat and a floor majority of 4 seats.
Despite eliminating the DLP from the Senate, Whitlam failed to gain control of the upper house. Eighteen months later, the government was dismissed by the Governor-General after the coalition refused to pass the Supply bills.
The close result in 1974 led to the Liberal leader Bill Snedden claiming that he hadn’t really lost the election. He variously said that the opposition didn’t win enough seats and that it hadn’t “lost all”.
- Listen to audio of ABC TV’s 1974 election night coverage (90m)
- Listen to Snedden’s “concession” on May 29.
- More information on the 1974 election
This is the text of a speech given by Andrew Leigh, ALP member for Fraser in the ACT, to the McKell Institute.
Leigh was elected to parliament in 2010. Previously, he was a professor of economics at the Australian National University.
The speech was originally published on Andrew Leigh’s blog.
- Listen to the introduction to Andrew Leigh
- Listen to Leigh’s speech
- Listen to the Question and Answer session
- Download a PDF copy of Leigh’s speech from the McKell Institute
What Do We Eat After the Low-Hanging Fruit?
A Brief Economic History of Australia, With Some Lessons for the Future
In the Pacific Ocean, off the west coast of South America, sit the Galapagos Islands. Although they straddle the equator, the pattern of ocean currents have a cooling effect, making them an ideal breeding ground for tortoises, iguanas, penguins, finches, albatrosses, gulls, and pelicans.
Because the islands are volcanic, what’s striking about animal life on the Galapagos Islands is that all of it came originally by flying or floating nearly 1000 kilometres from Ecuador. And yet for the species that survived, life on the Galapagos Islands was perfect. Migrating birds lucky enough to be blown off course found an environment with few natural predators. Tortoises that floated here found beaches perfectly suited to their breeding environments. Life flourished.
Looking back across Australian economic history, I am often struck by the extent to which luck has similarly played a part in our success. Politicians are sometimes reluctant to talk about luck – preferring to focus on the things we can control than those we can’t. It is true that ‘chance favours the prepared mind’. But I think it’s still worth talking about the role that luck has played, if only to help understand what preparations we should be making. If we don’t do that, we’re like the Galapagos tortoise, which must have thought itself the luckiest species on earth, until British sailors discovered the islands in the late-eighteenth century, and ate them in their thousands. [Read more...]
The triennial Congress of the Australian Council of Trade Unions has paid tribute to the work of its former Secretary, Bill Kelty.
At a dinner in Sydney, former Prime Minister Paul Keating led the tributes.
Kelty was ACTU Secretary from 1983 until 2000. Throughout the Hawke/Keating governments, he was pivotal to the operation of The Accord with the union movement.
Kelty’s work with the government on superannuation reforms, wage fixing, tariff reductions and other issues was vital to the economic reform and social legislation of the 1980s and 1990s.
- Listen to ACTU President Ged Kearney introduce Paul Keating (7m)
The Australian Electoral Commission says less than one tenth of $260,000 of Health Services Union funds used by Craig Thomson in his Dobell campaign remains in question.
A report issued by the AEC says most of the funds spent by Thomson’s campaign were within the reporting guidelines laid down in the Electoral Act.
The AEC report stemmed from Fair Work Australia’s report that said Thomson used more than $260,000 of union funds in Dobell.
The AEC is seeking further information on items totalling $17,014.88.
Media release from the Australian Electoral Commission.
The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) today released its analysis of the information contained in the Report of the Delegate to the General Manager of Fair Work Australia – “Investigation into the National Office of the Health Services Union under section 331 of the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009” (the FWA Report) dated 28 March 2012 against the reporting obligations contained in the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Electoral Act). [Read more...]