Media Circus: Craig Thomson cleared of electoral fraud, let’s talk about something else then

The News With Nipples has screenshots of what a few different media organisations thought was so much more important than the fact that there won’t be a by-election in Dobell in the near future and thus the Gillard minority government doesn’t have to worry about a hypothetical new Liberal MHR shifting the balance on the floor of the House of Representatives, and thus the Labor minority government remains with a working majority in the House.

Craig Thomson cannot be forced to step down as an MHR unless the Electoral Commission rules against him, and today they chose not to do so.  He still has to answer various other accusations of improprieties and criminal behaviour, but those will take time to work their way through the courts, and until/if/when he might be notified to appear as a defendant against criminal proceedings in a court of law, his right to retain his seat in Parliament cannot be denied.

That is simply a matter of fact.  I’m not a fan of Thomson, but he has his right to due process just as anybody else should have, and he’s exercising his right to retain his seat until the accusations are resolved in full.  This is how the system operates, and it’s working as it’s supposed to, no matter how many column inches fulminate against him.  Since he’s no longer a member of the Labor Party, there is no point in continuing to ask Gillard, Swan etc what they plan to do about him – they no longer have any way of applying party disciplinary measures against him.

I get that the situation has a certain salacious appeal.  I wish that wasn’t such irresistible bait for more column inches than it deserves, and I wish I could believe that the Liberal MHRs who are sanctimoniously opining about the proper deployment of union funds actually gave a rats arse for the interests of union members.

As usual with our Media Circus threads, please heave your brickbats and bouquets at the various journalists who deserve them, on any current topic – but let’s keep a closer eye on the impact of policy and legislation rather than buying into the moving wallpaper ethos of personality conflicts trumping the actual political process, OK?

Categories: ethics & philosophy, law & order, media, parties and factions

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6 replies

  1. In one sense he hasn’t really been cleared by the AEC as is stated in the article they still have further questions over some of the money spent. But regardless there won’t be any charges from the AEC point of view because the time limit has expired to bring charges which is a side effect of FWA taking so long with its investigation. If it turns out that there was criminal wrongdoing but due to a very slow process no one can be charged that’s a pretty bad look for those involved.

  2. Still it is only a tiny portion of the money spent, and unlikely to result in a conviction with 12 months or more gaol time, so he looks fairly safe atm. He probably won’t get preselected again. It will be interesting to see what he says on Monday under parliamentary privilege about those who allegedly set him up.
    The whole Kathy Jackson/Abbott/Pyne etc etc connection looks like a fun conspiracy theory too. I would love for it to be true, but I’m not getting my hopes up.

  3. Mindy @ 2 – If I understand the rules correctly an MP doesn’t have to be sentenced to 12 months or more, just convicted of an offence which can result in a sentence of 12 months or more. The SA senator is still there because although she was found guilty there was no conviction recorded.
    I don’t think that an MP should ever be suspended for a significant period of time. It doesn’t just punish the MP, but the electorate they represent. Nor should the parliament be able to by themselves permanently suspend someone. Perhaps there should be a recall type facility where a combination of a vote in parliament (maybe both houses) as well as a minimum percentage of voters in an electorate supporting it, can lead to a bi-election.
    The disturbing thing about the case is that if the numbers weren’t so tight in the lower house this probably would never have come out. Makes me wonder what MPs have got away with in the past…

  4. Is likening someone to a kabuki actor denying their claim? It will certainly make for an interesting legal argument about what a reasonable person would assume from that statement and whether it pertains directly to the sexual assault allegations or the allegations in general. I wouldn’t wish to be James Ashby right now. However this turns out it must be a huge stress on him.

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