'Let Jackson respond to Thomson'

OPPOSITION Leader Tony Abbott has described Craig Thomson's long-awaited statement to the parliament on Monday as "implausible" and a "travesty of due process".

Mr Thomson spoke for an hour, during which time he claimed he had been set up by his enemies within the Health Services Union.

A four-year Fair Work Australia investigation found Mr Thomson, as national secretary of the HSU, misused his union-issued credit card to, among other things, procure prostitutes and fund his 2007 election campaign in the seat of Dobell.

The Central Coast MP, who remains suspended from the Labor caucus, spent much of his speech rejecting the allegations and using parliamentary privilege to accuse current HSU national secretary Kathy Jackson of abusing her position.

Mr Abbott told reporters in Canberra on Monday Ms Jackson should be allowed to address parliament to respond to the allegations.

"Well, I certainly think that Kathy Jackson has been unjustifiably attacked by Mr Thomson," Mr Abbott said.

"Mr Thomson produced no evidence, no evidence whatsoever, for his smearing of other people in the union, whistleblowers in the union, people who have exposed what Fair Work Australia has now found to be facts about Mr Thomson's conduct.

"Certainly, there are procedures to give her a way to respond and I think those procedures should certainly be allowed to take their course."

Mr Abbott also called for Mr Thomson's statement to be debated on the floor of parliament.

Opposition attempts to initiate a debate on Monday were blocked.

"We have had Mr Thomson's frankly utterly implausible statement in the parliament yesterday and the government won't let us debate it. Mr Thomson had one hour in the parliament yesterday and the Opposition wasn't given one minute to respond," he said.

Mr Abbott, who himself was the subject of a number of attacks during Mr Thomson's statement, said the statement failed to seriously address the findings contained in the 1100-page FWA report.

"There are very serious findings of fact which Fair Work Australia made that he misused almost a half-a-million dollars of low paid union members' money," Mr Abbott said.

"None of those questions were seriously addressed yesterday and I think what Mr Thomson did was a travesty of due process."



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