Privileges Committee - Craig Thomson guilty of Contempt of Parliament, the highest order offence under The Act
Thursday, 17 March 2016
Congratulations to the Chair, Committee members and staff of the Standing Committee of Privileges and Members' Interests for this comprehensive and compelling study of Parliamentary Privilege, the offence of Contempt of Parliament, the elements of the offence of Misleading the Parliament and a detailed narrative concerning the conduct of Craig Thomson.
We should also note that Committee member Joel Fitzgibbon advised the Committee that he had counselled Thomson for his behaviour while Thomson was a Member of the Parliament - Fitzgibbon privately declared the potential conflict of interest two years ago and asked to be excused from the Committee's proceedings on this matter. Joel's behaviour has been impeccable.
I've one exception to the otherwise exceptionally high quality of this report and that is the recommendation in relation to punishing Thomson. Thomson's offending is at the highest end of the scale. The House could put him in gaol for 6 months. Instead, the Committee recommends the House reprimand him. Given the comprehensive assessment of the reptilian character of the former member for Dobell this is no punishment at all.
This report in all but its penalty will be an important case study for Westminster Parliaments around the world.
Thomson is a pariah. He should be an outcast from decent civil society. His offending against us all through his contempt of the Parliament is of the highest order. Like his theft from the members of the HSU he knew his responsibility, he knew the nature of the offence, he knew the penalties; but he consciously decided to go ahead and do it anyway.
Now we all know the true nature of this man and the truth about what he did. It is deeply troubling that so many of parliamentary colleagues knew it at the time and yet even the Prime Minister Julia Gillard continued to provide this convict with unqualified support and glowing character assessments.
This report should gives us cause for a long, hard look at not just Thomson, but ourselves.
The report is 63 pages long and it's published here.
Here are some extracts: