Parliament dealt with Craig Thomson's non-punishment last night under cover of darkness. Shame, shame, shame.
Last night under the cover of darkness the House of Representatives humiliated themselves and everyone in this country except Craig Thomson. Those of us who didn't bullshit, didn't invent a story, didn't improperly defame others for self-protection but thought our parliamentary representatives ought to be held to account are likely to be wondering what our laws and standards are for. Why investigate offences and bring them to the attention of authorities when there are no consequences for the offender except bragging rights on getting away with it.
If you thought our laws and parliamentary customs should be enforced under pain of punishment or at least negative consequences - think again. That has changed. The priority is sympathy for the offender.
Thomson was reprimanded last night, as in "naughty, naughty, don't do that again" for the most serious offence in the parliamentary book.
In voting to expiate Thomson's egregious contempt of the parliament the House heard from Anna Burke MP of the privileges committee:
We sought to deal with it in a sympathetic manner to the individual at hand, regardless of what we thought of the individual given his circumstances.
Sympathetic? Given his circumstances? He invented a story then stood for one hour and blatantly lied to the House. His political party paid for his legal fees. Paid for the try-on bullshit defamation action he brought against a newspaper. Paid for the newspaper's costs too. It's cost Thomson nothing. And in the parliament he lied knowing he had an obligation not to mislead the House. And in doing it he abused his protection against legal action to slag off Marco Bolano and others. As a consequence professional investigators from government agencies were assigned to investigate the cock and bull story at great cost and misallocation of resources. But that didn't matter to this House of Representatives.
Every defendant in every court will be thinking today "Why should I tell the truth when our lawmakers themselves don't value it, if I get done I'll quote Thomson, 'I think I'll have a reprimand please your honour'".
The Parliament was hushed as members considered the gravity of Thomson's offence. They knew it was a serious matter. They knew there was no doubt as to his guilt. They knew it was not spur of the moment or done in a fit of reactionary pique. Thomson prepared, wrote notes, considered what he was doing and intentionally misled The House for one hour.
The vote last night was a disgrace that shames our Parliament and the great men and women who created our traditions.
This mob apparently adopt the "there but for the Grace of God" maxim of mutual protection in times of trouble. They have the Minchin protocol whereby an offence of theft can be resolved by the return of money when sprung. And to that they can add the ability to bullshit to the Parliament confident in the knowledge that the worst case of offending against the doctrine of telling the truth brought a reprimand.
Wimps and self-interested reprobates.
Here is the record of this disgraceful, indelible stain on our polity and Australia's character.