Craig Thomson - a long and sorry saga

The sentencing of former Labor MP and HSU boss Craig Thomson today is the latest chapter in a long and shameful saga which illustrates both the depth of the moral decay of the modern Labor Party and the need for a Registered Organisations Commission.

The Craig Thomson/HSU affair has to date cost taxpayers almost $4m for the Fair Work Commission inquiry alone, which does not include the costs of his criminal prosecution.

“I today call on Labor to support the Coalition’s Bill for a Registered Organisations Commission – currently before the Senate – which will prevent future Craig Thomsons and Michael Williamsons from perpetrating their crimes against honest, hardworking union members,” Minister for Employment Senator Eric Abetz said today.

“Throughout the Thomson saga, the ALP has promoted, protected and endorsed an individual who represented the worst features of union boss rorts and Labor lies. The victims of Labor’s moral bankruptcy were the thousands of honest union members who were the victims of his frauds, whom the ALP did nothing to protect, preferring to protect Craig Thomson instead.”

Labor’s betrayal of honest union members began almost 8 years ago, when Labor preselected Thomson as its candidate in Dobell.

It continued when Thomson dishonestly misused union members’ funds to bankroll his campaign and Labor wilfully did nothing.

It continued in 2009 when allegations of fraudulent use of union money on prostitutes were first raised and Labor deliberately did nothing.

It continued when Labor elected Thomson’s partner in crime Michael Williamson as its national president in 2009.

It continued when Labor re-endorsed Thomson as its candidate for Dobell in 2010.

It continued when Labor stonewalled and delayed during the Fair Work Australia investigation into Thomson’s rorting in a desperate attempt to protect him from exposure.

It continued when Labor Senators were given the opportunity to condemn Thomson’s behaviour but voted against the motion.

It continued when then Prime Minister Julia Gillard emphatically supported Thomson in the face of his systematic lying, declaring in Parliament that “I look forward to him continuing to do that job (Member for Dobell) for a very long, long, long time to come.”

It continued when, in the face of clear and blatant lying, Bill Shorten declared “Oh, yeah, I believe him.”

It continued when NSW Labor boss now Senator Sam Dastyari secretly spent $350,000 of ALP money on Thomson’s legal fees to help keep him in Parliament.

It continued when the ALP repeatedly continued to accept Thomson’s vote in Parliament right up to the 2013 election.

Unfortunately and scandalously, the culture of moral bankruptcy that motivated Labor to protect Craig Thomson for so many years has not changed. Its current attitude to union rorts shows the party has learned nothing from this series of scandals.

Straight after the 2013 election, Labor voted against the Coalition’s legislation to introduce greater transparency and accountability to union governance and introduce a Registered Organisations Commission to clean up crooked unions. 

One year later, Labor continues to oppose this legislation.

“Bill Shorten’s position on union governance shows that neither he nor the Labor Party have changed at all.  Worst of all, it appears they do not wish to change,” Minister Abetz said.

When it comes to union corruption, Labor’s position is protect the union crooks and abandon the union members.  The shameful Craig Thomson affair must now surely finally prompt the ALP to abandon its morally bankrupt betrayal of honest union members.”

About Eric

Eric Abetz has been a Liberal Senator for Tasmania since 1994 and has served in a range of Leadership, Ministerial and Shadow Ministerial roles.

Read more


136 Davey Street
Hobart  TAS  7001

(03) 6224 3707