– Craig Thomson still hopes to continue his political career, most likely as an independent, but believe the Labor Party is keeping open pre-selection for his seat in case he is vindicated of the fraud charges he faces.
In his first media interview since last Thursday’s dramatic arrest on 150 fraud charges, Thomson denied ever using prostitutes and revealed that his legal fees to fight the case could cost him his house.
Thomson said the case against him was a police concoction, designed to cause a sensation. Asked if he had ever paid a prostitute for sex, the MP replied: “No, and that’s that.”
Thomson has been widely portrayed as a disgraced figure but has not called time on his political ambitions, telling Fairfax Media he believes the ALP has delayed pre-selection in his NSW seat while his legal fight plays out.
In response, Labor’s national secretary George Wright acknowledged the party had yet to preselect for Thomson’s New South Wales central coast seat of Dobell, but quickly slammed the door shut on Thomson as an option, saying “we will be selecting a new Labor candidate”.
Last Thursday Thomson was arrested by five NSW and Victorian detectives and charged at Wyong police station with fraud. A further 149 charges were laid. They relate to his use of a Health Services Union-issued credit card while he was the union’s national secretary, and include claims that money was spent on prostitutes and election campaigning.
Thomson believes the number of charges brought against him reflects the authorities’ wish to conduct a spectacular arrest.
The ALP’s rapid rebuff of a Thomson comeback still doesn’t rule him out as a candidate in September. He says he is also considering standing as an independent.
The father or two says he gets to the point of questioning whether it is all worth it probably many time a day but says he feels an obligation to the voters of Dobell.
Persistent speculation in Canberra has surrounded the cost of Thomson’s legal tussle, with some suggesting the MP could be rendered bankrupt by his fight, forcing him to quit Parliament before his term is served. But Thomson scotched the idea, declaring, “I’m not going bankrupt tomorrow or any of those things…what is likely is if I didn’t have enough money it would be a lack of (legal) representation.”
Either way, he made clear, there is no way he would be leaving Parliament before the September election.
Thomson says he was angry when police strip searched him after the arrest. When he complained, NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell advised him to take a Bex, a lie down or another look at the situation, because this whole situation arose because Mr Thomson allegedly was too keen to get his kit off in front of strangers – Tim Lester