Thomson judgement bad news for the ALP and unions

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Will this week's Federal Court judgement against Craig Thomson (upper right) serve the Liberal Party's long held goal of preventing the union movement from campaigning on behalf of the Labor Party?

By the Labor Party leaving Craig Thomson high and dry, they may brought a whirlwind upon themselves, writes Peter Wicks.

WHO WOULD have thought it? The Labor Party and the Australian Union Movement can never have a common goal.

A union campaign based around worker’s rights ceases to be a union campaign when one of those in the union movement becomes a political candidate. At that point it metamorphosises into a political campaign. The campaign at that moment immediately fails to benefit workers and becomes all about the political candidate without changing even one word in the campaign. Not only that, a campaign being run by that union at an event in South Australia can only benefit the candidate who signed off on it from another state in an electorate that those attending the event are highly unlikely to ever visit given it is several thousand miles away.

At least, these are the findings of the Federal Court in Melbourne this week, in a judgement that must have MP’s from the Labor Party nationwide racing out for adult size diapers.

The Labor Party in its infinite wisdom chose to leave a former MP at the mercy of the wolves and with not a cent to his name to allow him to contest a case that may have far-reaching ramifications for a large chunk of its caucus. And they may well reap a whirlwind as the dividend from leaving him high and dry.

The case I refer to is of course the civil matter of Craig Thomson that left a man on the verge of bankruptcy another $460K poorer. Thomson is now rumoured to be looking for a stone to squeeze blood out of.

Apparently, the largest union campaign in recent memory – the Your Rights At Work campaign – became less about WorkChoices and more about Craig Thomson for Dobell when the HSU signed on to the campaign, as so many other unions did.

Given Greg Combet oversaw the Your Rights At Work campaign for all of the unions as head of the ACTU before entering parliament, one wonders if he has googled “non-extradition countries” upon hearing of the courts findings. I hear Switzerland is nice this time of year.

Thomson has been dragged through the courts for years to the point of near bankruptcy. This was, of course, while the nation’s press smeared him.

Publicly humiliated and financially ruined for crimes for which he was found not guilty.

That not being enough punishment, he has now been given a $460,000 bill for allegations he could not afford to contest.

Thomson’s real crime, of course, was being a weak link in a hung parliament. He found himself on the nose when Tony Abbott smelled an opportunity to seize the keys to the Lodge.

A job where the whiff of political opportunity can leave you broke, publicly humiliated, mentally traumatised and inflict so much psychological pain on your family, where do I sign up?

By contrast, at the same time in the Senate, we had Liberal Senator Mary Jo Fisher, who was given a heroes send off from parliament.

Fisher however did not spend union members funds on probably the most important union campaign in a century. All she did was attempt to steal property from a small business – multiple times – and then assault a security guard.

On the other side of the coin, we have Thomson’s accusers Kathy Jackson and Michael Lawler.

Jackson, of course, has a $1.4 million finding against her and a joint Victorian and Federal Police investigation into her activities. That investigation is also looking at her partner, her former hubby and many of her friends and allies.

This week, news surfaced that Jackson’s appeal against Federal Court decision that she repay over $1.4 million had been dismissed.

It needs to be remembered that the bulk of the findings against Thomson were for union campaigns such as the “Your Rights At Work” campaign, not overseas holidays, overpaid wages, expensive dinners, nights at the pub with her mates and household items like Jackson’s expenditure.

Meanwhile, the prospects of Michael Lawler rocking up to his $435,000 taxpayer-funded job seem increasingly remote as he has checked himself into a psychiatric facility for treatment. This must make Michaela Cash’s “independent” investigation into allegations against him rorting taxpayers interesting, with his failure to even show up at the Fair Work offices for months on end.

A look at the expenditure involved in the Jackson case only serves to highlight the travesty of the court findings in relation to Thomson.

If there is a bright side for Thomson it is this, with his ordeal now over, he can now freely offer commentary on his accusers legal woes.

I look forward to that.

Peter Wicks is an ALP member and former NSW State Labor candidate. You can follow Peter on Twitter @madwixxy. Read more about the Jacksonville saga HERE. Donate to Peter's Jacksonville book writing fund HERE.

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