Federal MP Craig Thomson has blamed a union scandal on an elaborate plot by a rival he says fitted him up by using union credit cards in his name to pay for prostitutes - claims greeted with derision by the opposition.
In interviews on the Nine Network and in Sydney's Daily Telegraph, Thomson, the former head of the Health Services Union, responded to allegations in a Fair Work Australia report that he misused $500,000 of union funds on escort services and on personal and election campaign expenses.
Thomson, who has been suspended from the federal Labor caucus, said the HSU was a dysfunctional union where rivals warned they would ruin his political career by "setting me up with hookers".
Asked how payments for prostitutes were made on credit cards that he controlled, and how his driver's licence details and signature appeared on receipts, Thomson said the HSU executive had access to his details.
"The whole executive knew what my credit card numbers were," he said.
Thomson admitted only that he should have checked his credit card statements more closely before signing off on them.