Thomson comes out fighting

Defiant … Craig Thomson after a police raid on his home in Bateau Bay yesterday.
Defiant … Craig Thomson after a police raid on his home in Bateau Bay yesterday.

CRAIG THOMSON'S lawyer has slammed Tony Abbott as an ''ageing student politician'' and demanded he either produce evidence the independent MP had broken the law or ''shut his mouth''.

Chris McArdle hit out at Mr Abbott yesterday after the Opposition Leader cited the police raids on Mr Thomson's home and electoral office as further reason why the government must no longer accept his vote.

The raid, conducted by NSW police on behalf of Victorian police who are conducting a criminal investigation into Mr Thomson's tenure as the boss of the Health Services Union between 2002 and 2007, was launched yesterday morning.

Material was confiscated from both premises but no charges were laid.

Mr Abbott sought to implicate the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, who for many months expressed her confidence in Mr Thomson before he was suspended from the ALP in late April.

He is now one of seven crossbenchers and Labor still regularly relies on his vote to be able to govern. It needs five of the seven to achieve a majority in the House.

Mr Abbott said yesterday that Ms Gillard's decision to stand by Mr Thomson for as long as she did exposed a lack of judgment.

''Let's not forget that it was the Prime Minister who was saying for months and years that she had full confidence in Craig Thomson,'' he said.

The manager of opposition business, Christopher Pyne, said that when Parliament resumed next week, Labor should sever all links with Mr Thomson.

''We left Parliament two weeks ago mired in scandal,'' Mr Pyne said, a reference to the resignation of Peter Slipper as the Speaker.

''We go back next Monday continuing to be steeped in scandal.

''And if Julia Gillard wanted to restore integrity to the way Australians think about the Parliament she would announce she would not accept Craig Thomson's tainted vote.''

Mr McArdle rounded on Mr Abbott and the Coalition for continually implying guilt on behalf of Mr Thomson.

''If Mr Abbott has evidence of that he should come forward forthwith, or he should shut his mouth,'' he said.

''We will not tolerate our client being condemned by innuendo or ageing student politicians mouthing off.''

The government argued legal processes must be able to unfold without interference and the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, hit back, reminding the Coalition that it continued to accept the vote of one of its MPs, Andrew Laming, when he was under police investigation in 2007 for misusing electoral entitlements.

Mr Laming, who was later cleared, described a raid on his office at the time as ''a routine visit'', similar language to that Mr Thomson used yesterday.

Mr Swan said the allegations against Mr Thomson ''were handled by the police, as they should be and that's the way it should be on this occasion''.

Mr Thomson already faces 62 civil charges in the Federal Court related to the alleged misuse of his union credit card. He declared yesterday his innocence of any criminal wrongdoing. Mr McArdle said his client was innocent and would not be charged.

''He's not going to be charged with a criminal offence and he's going to win the civil case, end of story,'' he said.

''The police will not charge him and if they do, he will be acquitted very, very quickly.''

This story Thomson comes out fighting first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.