Abbott wants PM to explain Thomson affair
- From: AAP
- August 26, 2011
Opposition leader Tony Abbott has demanded Prime Minister Julia Gillard detail what she knew about the Thomson affair and when she knew it.
A report in the Courier-Mail today said Ms Gillard's chief-of-staff in early 2009 rang the Industrial Registrar to ask whether he was investigating Craig Thomson over the misuse of credit cards during his time as head of the Health Services Union.
It's been alleged that two union credit cards in Mr Thomson's name were used for escort services, lavish dinners and accessing more than $100,000 from ATMs.
The now Labor MP for Dobell in NSW has denied any wrongdoing. "I think she owes it to the public to tell us exactly what she knew, when she knew it and what she did about it," Mr Abbott told Channel 9 today. "No doubt if she has a reasonable explanation the public will give her credit for that, but she needs to give us her explanation."
Yesterday, Mr Abbott attacked the prime minister for not asking Mr Thomson to make a statement to parliament on the issue.
Ms Gillard said addressing parliament was a matter for Mr Thomson. Cabinet minister Tony Burke said there was nothing sinister in the staff member making inquiries, and described the story as ridiculous.
"Lots of rumours go around Canberra, most of them are untrue, so a staff member rings up a public servant and says we've heard there's an investigation is this true, public servant says can't tell you. And that's the end of the matter," Mr Burke told Channel 7.
The Government yesterday also attacked the Opposition over its handling of the affair after it was revealed Senator George Brandis called NSW Police Minister Mike Gallacher on the issue.
Mr Abbott said Senator Brandis called Mr Gallacher as a courtesy.
"The bizarre thing is this is a prime minister who has deep concerns about George Brandis, but she has full confidence in Craig Thomson."
NSW police are assessing the information, as well as documents from the union, while Fair Work Australia is conducting a separate investigation into the union's finances under Mr Thomson's stewardship.