The Indianpost

Gillard won’t ask for Thomson explanation

Prime Minister Julia Gillard says she will not be asking Labor MP Craig Thomson to make a full explanation to Parliament over allegations he misused a union credit card.

The Health Services Union, which Mr Thomson led before becoming an MP in 2007, has urged him to make a detailed public statement about his role in the suspected misuse or misappropriation of funds during his time as national secretary.

NSW Police are considering allegations that a union credit card issued to Mr Thomson was used to pay for escort services, cash withdrawals and lavish meals, but police as yet have not launched an investigation.

Fair Work Australia is investigating the union’s finances, based on an independent report by lawyers and forensic accountants prepared on behalf of the union in 2009.

Ms Gillard told reporters in Canberra today that any statement to Parliament was a matter for Mr Thomson.

“It’s a judgment for each parliamentarian involved,” she said.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott – who again was unsuccessful in getting up a parliamentary motion on the subject – said the public and the union deserved answers from Mr Thomson and the Prime Minister.

“Many of those answers can only come from the Prime Minister,” Mr Abbott told ABC Television.

Ms Gillard said the only person in the Parliament currently facing criminal charges was a Liberal senator, Mary Jo Fisher, who is accused of theft and assault and had not been asked by Mr Abbott to explain herself to Parliament.

“No statements have been made by that Liberal senator and indeed no statement called for,” she said.

“There are proper processes here and they need to be gone through.”

She repeated her statement that she had discussed the matter with Mr Thomson, who “denies the allegations against him”.

But she said it would be completely inappropriate to volunteer a view on what Mr Thomson told her.

Independent MP Tony Windsor, who helped deliver government to Labor last year, said the justice system should be allowed to take its course.

“Allegations have been made. As yet there’s no proof; there may be, there may be not,” Mr Windsor said.

Meanwhile, Ms Gillard said she was “deeply concerned” about Liberal senator George Brandis having telephoned the NSW Police Minister Mike Gallacher before sending the Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione information about Mr Thomson.

“Our system of democracy, our system of government, relies on the fact that office bearers like police commissioners, independently of political processes, exercise their best judgment,” she said.

Senator Brandis said in a statement he had spoken with Mr Gallacher “as a matter of courtesy” before sending his letter, and that the minister had let the commissioner know this.

“I have never had a conversation with Mr Scipione,” Senator Brandis said.

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