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Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics.

In other circumstances the member for Dobell’s use of his union credit card, reportedly for the services of prostitutes, would not amount to much.

These events occurred when Craig Thompson was head of the Health Services Union before he entered the House of Representatives. The defence seems dubious that while another person forged his signature and used his credit card, he authorized the payment, but the critical question is whether a crime was committed.

Phillip Coorey, Anna Patty and Sean Nicholls report in The Sydney Morning Herald that the NSW Police are unlikely to lay charges. The NSW Police Fraud Squad are expected to announce their decision next week. Some legal experts, but not Senator Brandis,suggest there is no case:

Ian Dobinson, a criminal law lecturer at the University of Technology, Sydney, said it was unlikely Mr Thomson would face a fraud charge under the NSW Crimes Act as suggested by the federal shadow attorney-general, George Brandis.
It would need to be proven there had been dishonest deception in the way a financial advantage had been obtained, and this was unlikely to be proven.
”This position is based on the facts as we currently know them and at best what we have now is an inappropriate use of a union credit card [just another type of corporate credit card],” he said.
”He may be in breach of union rules and even Fair Work provisions but there is no fraud.”
Alex Steel, an associate professor of law at the University of NSW, said Senator Brandis had demonstrated a poor understanding of NSW law by suggesting charges of larceny and fraud under s 192E of the NSW Crimes Act.
Larceny charges applied only to the taking of physical property, not to credit card debts.
Fraudulent appropriation only applies if a person has obtained physical property honestly but later dishonestly decides to keep it or ask for a reward. Embezzlement would not apply to the incurring of credit card debts or the obtaining of services.

According to Jane Shaw writing at The Drum, this campaign is all about the proposed tax on carbon emissions. The 23 days of Parliamentary sitting time this year represents the window of opportunity for the Opposition to prevent the passing of the legislation. Once it is passed they will be without what she describes as “the most effective weapon they have against the Government”.

Now if that is true, it is a very dreary observation on public formulation and debate, not to mention the quality of democratic process. A far worse condemnation than the suspect behavior of those selected to be parliamentary representatives by the powers within political parties.



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