Craig Thomson’s quit the ALP, and as this Joker flutters to the floor, it’s any wonder Julia’s House of Cards is still standing.
For months, Julia Gillard has been telling us: “I have complete confidence in the Member for Dobell. I look forward to him continuing to do that job for a very long, long time to come,” … very carefully placing her cards, holding her breath, trying not to slip.
She’s slipped. Slipper-ed even. (I promise no more puns).
Slipper, with his Cabcharge fraud allegations and sexual harassment case, was a headache the Prime Minister didn’t need. She even admitted, last week, that she “didn’t really know” Mr Slipper personally (sub-text: but he saved us a vote. I would’ve installed Beelzebub himself if I had to). She was desperate and he was dodgy. Recipe for disaster.
As that card tumbled, the PM had to concede her foundation was perilous. So she’s finally folded and admitted that Craig Thomson and his prostitute-hiring credit card brings an air of odium to the Labor Party.
Thomson’s been told to skedaddle and to give the PM some breathing space. He’s quit the ALP to become an independent MP, but he’ll still vote with the Government.
“I do believe a line has been crossed here and because a line has been crossed, I have acted,” Julia Gillard said in a press conference today.
Just exactly what this line is, and why it’s been crossed now (and not in the past few years that Thomson has been the subject of this investigation) wasn’t up for discussion.
What did appear to spur the PM into action was the public outrage. It seems, dear readers, your anger can’t be ignored anymore.
“I have felt very sharply the judgments and concerns of the Australian people,” she said.
Julia Gillard says the whole debacle has cast a shadow over Parliament House.
“I feel keenly that Australians are looking at this Parliament and at the moment they see a dark cloud over it. I want to ensure that Australians can look at this building, look at this institution, and feel respect for this institution.”
Thomson told the media it was a joint decision…. And he’ll be back.
“I spoke with the Prime Minister last night and we agreed … that it was the appropriate thing to do,” he said.
“I then rang (NSW Labor Party general secretary) Sam Dastyari and I asked that he suspend my membership of the Labor Party while these matters are dealt with.
“I’m very confident that at some stage in the near future I will be ringing Sam and saying these matters have now been resolved and I’m coming back to the Labor caucus.”
So will this shuffle from the Labor backbench to the crossbench – a good 20 metres or so – put enough distance between the Government Frontbench and the Thomson stink? Especially when it’s not permanent and he’ll still be voting the way he always has?