Craig Thomson
Craig Thomson

Fair Work Aus plans to take on Thomson in Federal Court

FAIR Work Australia has filed civil charges against independent MP Craig Thomson in the Federal Court.

In a statement issued on Monday FWA said the action was based largely on the findings of its three-year investigation into the Health Services Union, of which Mr Thomson was national secretary from 2002-2007.

It is alleged Mr Thomson misused hundreds of thousands of dollars of HSU members' funds on prostitutes, travel for his partner and other lavish expenses.

FWA general manager Bernadette O'Neill said the statement of claim also included additional allegations that Mr Thomson misused HSU funds.

She said the claim included 37 alleged breaches of general duties imposed on officers of registered organisations and 25 alleged breaches of HSU rules.

"I have not taken this action lightly. I am satisfied that it is in the public interest to pursue the allegations in the documents filed in the Federal Court today and consider that there is a reasonable prospect of success," Ms O'Neill said.

"If successful, I will be seeking the imposition of pecuniary penalties relating to each of the 37 alleged contraventions where penalties are available.

"I will also be seeking orders requiring Mr Thomson to pay compensation for losses allegedly incurred by the HSU by reason of the alleged breaches of general duties should they be proven."

The proceedings, which will begin in the Federal Court in Melbourne on December 7, follow the commencement of similar proceedings against the HSU and three former officers of the HSU Victoria No.1 Branch.

Ms O'Neill also confirmed she intended to launch proceedings against the national office of the HSU and was considering advice regarding potential proceedings against other parties named during the investigation.

In a statement, Mr Thomson maintained he was innocent of the allegations.

He said that while he was disappointed he was not surprised FWA had lodged the claim.

"Clearly, Fair Work Australia has felt pressured into responding this way given the political process which it is a part of," Mr Thomson said.

"Naturally, I will vigorously defend these claims which are based on a totally discredited Fair Work Australian report."

The latter was a reference to the findings of a KPMG review of the FWA investigation.

Mr Thomson spent almost an hour addressing the allegations during a speech to Parliament in May.

The Member for Dobell had earlier quit the Labor Party to sit on the crossbenches at the height of the scandal.

Liberal Senator Eric Abetz said Mr Thomson's claim that FWA had been pressured was ludicrous.

"After four long years one can hardly claim that Fair Work Australia have been pressured into doing anything in relation to this matter," Senator Abetz said.

He said the Labor Party had to rule out paying for Mr Thomson's legal fees and allow the release of documents relating to the FWA investigation.

Members of the Coalition have looked through the documents, which are in the possession of the Senate secretariat, but have failed in their bid to have them released.

Senator Abetz said the "treasure trove of documents" underpin the FWA investigation.

The maximum pecuniary penalty that can be imposed by the court in respect of each contravention of the general duties is $6600 for an individual.

Pecuniary penalties are not available for breaches of union rules.

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