Monday, August 29, 2011

What to say about Craig Thomson. Here's the cheat sheet:

This is what was handed out to MPs last week. Really.

Thanks to Mark Reilly of the Seven network.

The Cheat Sheet, Leaked

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Anonymous said...

Sorry Peter, and your point is...?

Is this not a pretty standard document?

Anonymous said...

This is an outrage!

Next story: Lazy Journalists Handed Stories Rather Than Undertaking Actual Research!

(Not a dig at you personally, Peter. You do actual analysis. But this story is so obvious it defies publishing)


Anonymous said...

Really, indeed, Peter. So what? You've been around the beat long enough, I should hope, to understand that all MPs are issued talking points about whatever's in the paper at the time.

I'm not defending Thomson, but the way you're going on about this, you'd think it was the first time an MP was caught with their pants down and hand in the till. I'll also note that he's yet to be convicted - or even charged - of anything, not that it's stopped you from getting a serious case of the vapours.

Sadly, the reality is that politics has been, is currently, and likely ever will be, filled with people like him.

For all your wide-eyed shock and outrage, I'm not sure what *you* expect Labor to do. I mean, honestly, the way things are currently, do you think they're gonna demand his resignation, push for a byelection, or -as you seem to be clamoring for - put him in stocks beside the road? And even if you - somehow, deliriously - think they could do this, should they? I confess, in the absence of a crime I'm not particularly enamoured with digging through MPs pasts and personal lives to score political or media points. Do visits to prostitutes affect discharging his duty as an MP? If the answer is no (which I believe it is), then I don't really care.

You only have to cast your gaze to the fair borough of Sydney and the outrageous reporting of David Campbell's fully legal and right-to-be-private visits to a gay sauna to see where this kind of strident muck-racking can take us. Your fellow press luminaries ruined that man's career and family life for no real reason.

In short, I don't know your zeal for this particular story, as opposed to evidence the RBA ignored and covered up bribery, Mary Jo Fisher is actually charged with a crime, Bill Heffernan - despite probably not having visited a brothel - remains a total b******d, and a host of govt policy that could no doubt do with a soupcon of scrutiny.

Further, ignoring the broader context of merit-less factional brawling, misuse of funds, and accusations & counter-accusations that presaged this Thomson information reflects a somewhat prurient interest, I feel, and presents a simplistic narrative (individual is bad!), or the more complex and arguably important reality (some unions are cesspits, they encourage terrible behaviour, and Labor has a major problem with them, i.e. organisations and their cultures are bad).

In short, maybe a stint from Fairfax over to the tele may be in order for you, Peter.

Anonymous said...

"instead of the more complex" etc etc. Sorry for the typo.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that this cheat sheet is in response to specific newspaper articles. No mention of TV news or social media. Maybe I should lobby Labor by buying a newspaper...

Peter Martin said...

Dear A1,

Glad you asked me about Craig.

You say Craig Thomson is "yet to be convicted - or even charged".

My guess is he never will be. As far as I can see he has committed no crime.

My concern was that he was not a proper person to represent the parliament when it greeted and quizzed the Reserve Bank governor.

I said so, a week before the hearing.

It looks as if he (or the government) agreed with me. He stepped down.

I am grateful. Very.

Anonymous said...

Me (A1) again, Peter. So what, pray tell, does a pretty bog-standard talking points memo delivered mps have to do with him sitting on a committee, and why does it warrant a "really" from yourself, alluding that it's in any way unusual?

Additionally, why *wouldn't* he have been appropriate to quiz the governor - notwithstanding no special expertise in matter of economics or national finance?

Because he has been involved in murky ethical dealings himself? Because he comes from a background of low transparency and shenanigans? Well, by that standard, surely many MPs on both sides of the fence would have to excuse themselves.

I struggle to understand why this one particular peccadillo has captured you so, Peter. After all, it hardly came to light through some kind of diligent dirt-digging by parties interested only in the public weal, far from it.

To act like Thomson is at all unique is surely naive, and - following that thought to its logical conclusion - it can hardly be said to make him _uniquely_ unsuited to the job of holding public office.

Peter Martin said...

Dear A1 again,

Re the "bog-standard talking points memo".

It may seem bog-standard to you, but I have never seen one before, nor seen one on the web before.

Maybe you've seen one.

There's one on the web now so other people can see one as well.

Re "Why wouldn't he have been appropriate to quiz the governor?"

I think it would have been fine for Thomson to quiz the governor. He could have. He didn't turn up. His chair was empty. It was near mine.

My concern was that he was not a proper person to represent the parliament when it greeted and quizzed the Reserve Bank governor.

That's what the chairman of the economics committee does.

I have sat through far more of these hearings than Craig Thompson. They are important. They represent accountability at its finest.

As you point out, one of the topics for consideration was whether the RBA ignored and covered up bribery (some of it involving the supply of prostitutes by the way).

Craig Thompson was not a proper person to sit in the chair and direct the governor to answer such questions.

Not if the parliament is to be taken seriously.

I want it to be taken seriously.

As I said, I am pleased that Craig Thomson (or someone) arrived at the same conclusion.

Very pleased.

And relieved.

The hearings matter.

Anonymous said...

It got weird, didn't it?


ps - great comments, A1.

Anonymous said...

If, as you say, Thomson is not likely ever to be charged over the allegations against him, what makes you arrive at the conclusion that he is not a fit and proper person to welcome the RBA Governor?

I think I can smell some Fairfax solidarity influencing you over this issue.

Peter Martin said...


Earlier you said I should spend time at the Daily Telegraph, now you say you can smell Fairfax solidarity influencing me.

Why not dispense with unnecessary explanations?

There are more obvious reasons why I thought (and Thompson himself later agreed) he was not a proper person to represent the parliament.

His union credit card was used to pay brothels. His union-provided phone was used to call brothels.

He is accused of using the credit card to defraud the union.

He had the opportunity to demonstrate that these allegations were false in court. He sought it. The hearing was about to begin.

Then he walked away and paid the other party's costs.

If he had chaired Friday's hearing he would have made the hearing (and the parliament) a laughing stock.

The hearing needs to be taken seriously. It is important.

That's what I thought. I said he should not be chairing the hearing early.

Later Thomson (or Labor) agreed with me.

I am glad.

I cannot imagine how the hearing would have gone had they not.

Andy said...

I for one was happy to see these talking points.

I have never seen one before and it is very interesting that these exist.

Maybe in future we shouldnt ask the politicians anything ans just go straight to there papers?

I'm incorrigible!

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter, it's A1 here, just clearing up, I didn't make that last anon comment.

I wish I shared your faith that it was only Thomson's place on a hearing that would or would not have made our current parliament a laughing stock. I guess that's where we differ: I don't really think it can sink much lower than current, and the fact is that hearings and estimates committees receive very little public, media, and parliamentary attention more often than not. And they are important, we both wholeheartedly agree on that.

Perhaps Thomson's presence would have increased reportage on it? ;)

Regarding the "FAQ" document, yes, I have indeed seen them many times before, and would suggest that any fraught topic for any govt would produce such a document for question time and pariliament sitting, especially in the last ten years or so.

Btw, I'd like to aknowledge your willingness to answer my somewhat narky questions, and I appreciate the dialogue you're happy to engage in. Would that more of your colleagues gird their loins and wade into the muddy canals of internet dialogue. Mind you, the majority of them are certainly unable to defend the calibre of their pieces in the ways you can, both from ability and a sad lack of evidence.

Peter Martin said...


Anonymous said...

I don't understand what all this "innocent until proven guilty" stuff is all about.

What are they saying? That office holders should only be held accountable for their crimes.

The criminal code is not the only standard that matters.

What of civil wrongs, or bad manners, or even stupidity and incompetence.

People like this need to be routed out of parliament, regardless of party affiliation.

We as a society need to create an environment that is hostile and resistant to corruption.

"Oh, but he's not been convicted" is too little, too late.

Anonymous said...

All Peter did was upload the cheat sheet. Look at all the fuss it's kicked up.

Some of you lot are accusing him of journalistic bias. Bloody hell, he got the thing from Mark Riley.

I think certain peoples reaction to it says a lot more ...

Pathetic, indefensible and of coarse anonymous ;)

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