Australian Lawmaker Thomson’s Home Raided Amid Corruption Probe
Australian lawmaker Craig Thomson, whose survival in parliament is crucial to Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s minority government, said police investigating claims of corruption at the union where he used to work raided his home today and seized documents.
“I have done nothing wrong,” Thomson told reporters. “We are fully cooperating with police in relation to this investigation.”
Thomson, who was national secretary of the Health Services Union before becoming a lawmaker in 2007, faces allegations he used a union credit card to pay for prostitutes. He told parliament in May that he was subject to intimidation at the union and that a fellow official had threatened to ruin his political career.
Gillard, who ordered Thomson to step down from her Labor Party while the allegations are investigated, still needs his support in the 150-seat lower house of parliament to pass legislation. If he resigned or was convicted of a charge carrying a jail term, the government -- trailing in opinion polls -- may face an attempt from the opposition to force national elections before they are due November 2013.
Fair Work Australia, the nation’s workplace tribunal, has found 181 violations of industrial relations laws and union rules by former and current HSU officials and earlier this year referred its probe to the public prosecutor.
Thomson, now sitting as an independent lawmaker, has said he will continue to support the government and hoped to return to the Labor Party when investigations are completed. If he resigned from parliament, that would trigger a by-election in his constituency that could undermine Gillard’s minority government if Tony Abbott’s Liberal-National coalition won the seat.
Thomson told reporters today he hoped the police investigation would be concluded before the end of this year.
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