Australia's shadow treasurer Joe Hockey says federal MP Craig Thomson's claim of a plot by a union rival to ruin his political career is unbelievable.
In weekend interviews on the Nine Network and in the Sydney Daily Telegraph, Wellington-born Thomson, the former head of the Health Services Union, gave his first detailed explanation of allegations in the Fair Work Australia report that he misused A$500,000 ($640,260) of union funds on escort services and on personal and election campaign expenses.
Thomson, who has been suspended from the Labor party, said the union was very dysfunctional and rivals had warned they would ruin his political career by "setting me up with hookers". "No, I don't believe him," Hockey told the Nine Network yesterday. "[Union powerbroker] Paul Howes summarised it correctly when he said 'it just doesn't pass the believability test'."
Hockey said FWA's 1100-page report into activities at the union were a "damning indictment" of Thomson and other people at the union.
"They were findings, not allegations, and it is a very serious issue," he said. "He has a lot of explaining to do."
Thomson has promised to provide a more detailed explanation, including naming names, when he addresses the House of Representatives when Parliament resumes on May 21.
Hockey criticised Prime Minister Julia Gillard's judgment in continuing to take Thomson's vote on the floor.
"She can throw him out of the caucus, but it is not meaningful unless she refuses to accept his vote in the Parliament," he said.
Hockey said he had not heard of claims by the previous MP for Dobell, Alan Ticehurst, that the then Howard Government had a file of allegations against Thomson.
Ticehurst said he could sue Thomson for lost earnings after losing the seat of Dobell to him in the 2007 election, Fairfax Media reported yesterday.
Ticehurst said David Gazard, then an adviser to Treasurer Peter Costello, showed him a file with allegations against Thomson.