Monday will mark the day that Craig Thomson hopes will see the end of his legal woes, although the bills I’m sure will continue to adorn the fridge for years to come.
Monday will see the Federal Court hand down its decision on the civil case mounted against Thomson by the Fair Work Commission (formerly FWA).
This is the civil case that was brought on by the FWA investigation that saw Thomson publicly humiliated over accusations regarding prostitutes, allegations that he has been found not guilty of in criminal court proceedings. The same FWA investigation that was brought on by the industry body of which the partner of Thomson’s accuser was Vice President. The same investigation that was slammed by the independent inquiry into it conducted by KPMG.
Despite the investigation by Fair Work having about as much integrity as an email from the Nigerian royal family offering money, things are not expected to go well for Thomson.
The reason that things are not looking flash for Thomson is simple, he has been unable to defend himself against the allegations, being virtually broke. Senate Estimates recently revealed that the cost of this civil matter to the taxpayer thus far has been $4.1Million. That’s a lot of money to be fighting against for someone who is verging on bankruptcy.
On top of his financial status woes, Thomson also has the issue of living interstate from the court which when combined with his financial concerns make it tough to be available for court proceedings. On top of that there is the mental health aspect, something Federal Court took into account for his accuser Kathy Jackson but failed to consider for Thomson, something I am sure many would consider a sign of bias.
Given this is the last chance that Thomson has to state his defence against Fair Work’s taxpayer-funded vendetta, Thomson has provided a submission to the court. However based on previous experience with this court it was felt there was a strong chance of the submission being dismissed by the court, with that in mind Thomson has also filed the submission as part of an affidavit. Should the court dismiss this affidavit it will be a clear sign of bias given it has allowed others to file affidavits.
Thomson’s affidavit certainly makes for interesting reading. Certainly the area that discusses the “You’re Rights At Work” campaign should have many former and sitting MP’s concerned.
Wixxyleaks has been given an exclusive advance copy of the Thomson affidavit linked in full below, and is also on my HSU resource page.
On Monday Chris McArdle will be in court representing Thomson, something Thomson can hardly afford. I contacted McArdle to ask a few questions, below are my questions and his responses.
- What penalty do you believe will be handed down by the judge and on what basis do you believe it will be handed down on?
That is a matter for the judge. It can be up to 60 or 30 penalty units (being therefore up to $6,0000 or $3,000) per breach . Thus, up to tens of thousands. The basis on which the penalty will be handed down, is that the Applicant won on every point, in a case in which they were not opposed. That was due to the inability of Mr Thomson to run a case, for both financial and health reasons.
- Do you think the decision to penalise Craig for the “Your Rights At Work” campaign could have implications for other past and current MP’s or do you think it will only be Craig that is singled out?
Money was spent on many marginal seats by unions in 2007. In more than one case, the money of a union was spent where former or serving officials of the specific union concerned were running as the Labor candidate. One example besides this one, is Bill Shorten. Another is David Bradbury, who is the brother of a then HSU official (and one of the accusers) of Mr Thomson, and who had HSU money spent on him. There are others. Perhaps your readers can have a contest to see who can think of the most.
If that is held to be illegal, then the entire historic basis of the Labor Party will be unravelled.
That basis is, that the union movement decided in the late 19th century, after huge industrial defeats, that the only way to survive was to ensure the election of candidates who would vote in parliament in support of pro union legislation. That body was originally called (in NSW at least) the “Labor Electoral League”. After Federation, it became nationally, the Australian Labor Party. The party has always been the “parliamentary wing” of the Labor movement. The unions are the “industrial” wing. The branch structure is the “community wing”. Each one props up the other.
That will all be destroyed if unions can’t spend money on Labor candidates.
- Do you believe this is the end of the road for Craig or do you think the investigation into Kathy Jackson will lead to further accusations?
Craig has been consistent in his denials. Apart from the salacious matters of public prurience that the press love so much, he is “guilty” of spending on election campaigns. He can’t be criminally convicted again. He has been acquitted, and that is the end of that. He cannot be found in civil breach of the matters at hand, again, as he has been “found” on them and is about to be penalised. So, yes, I do think this is the end.
- Do you believe the legal process regarding the cases against Thomson have been about justice and fairness and conducted in a manner that would give the public faith in our legal system? If not why?
The judges concerned are simply the bearers of the roster of the day. I can see no irregularity or unfairness by any of the magistrates/judges involved. Their job is to rule on what is brought before them. Not up to them what is brought before them.
BUT the amount of public money and the devotion of police and public servant time and the fortune in legal fees would not have been spent had Mr Thomson not been a member in a marginal seat in a hung parliament. Abbot was single-minded about toppling the government, and Thomson was the patsy. Abbott lost the lot in the public arena before Thomson finally did, which is ironic.
Thomson was convicted of stealing $4,500 in the end and only after running out of money to continue fighting the charges.
The Senate Estimates exposure of a $4.1 Million dollar taxpayer-funded price tag for just the civil case alone should alarm every taxpayer in the country.
If this is the cost of the civil case, I would imagine that the criminal cases cost the taxpayer at least 4 times that, bringing the total cost of both court proceedings to over $20 Million. Please remember that is just the court cases, it does not include the police investigation that went for years, the FWA investigation that also went for years, the Senate Inquiry into the FWA investigation, and the KPMG report into the FWA investigation.
This could easily drag the total cost of the public crucifixion of Thomson to over $100 Million. Not a bad taxpayer-funded investment based on the word of someone Federal Court found misappropriated $1.4 Million, including $250K of cancer research funds, money that instead of being used treating cancer patients was used to fund expensive holidays for Kathy Jackson and Michael Lawler, her Tony Abbott appointed partner. Nothing to see in that…
With a legal system that seems to indicate that you are innocent until proven unable to afford a defence, and the vast rivers of taxpayer money that our economy in “budget emergency” can still spare to chase down a political scapegoat it is almost enough to leave one speechless.
With that in mind perhaps it’s best if I let Craig Thomson have the final statement on the proceedings. Taken from his affidavit
“They know that I have no money. They have seen my psychologist’s report. They know this is futile. It is outrageous that they continue to burn public money on squashing me when I am already squashed.”
Let’s hope common sense prevails on Monday and a victimised man is allowed the opportunity to rebuild his life and raise his family.
Surely after all he’s been through that’s not too much to ask?