5 Australian Politicians Who Lost Power in 2012

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By Vittorio Hernandez | January 3, 2013 10:00 AM EST

Politics is a very volatile career, as some Australian politicians discovered in 2012. The tagline of popular reality TV show Project Runway captures it all for these five MPs who not only made headlines but also fell from power. As host Heidi Klum would say it, "One day you're in, and the next day you're out," which definitely applied to these five MPs.

1.     Kevin Rudd

The former prime minister, who lost to current PM Julia Gillard in a political coup in 2010, was appointed Foreign Minister, but quit his post in February after he challenged Ms Gillard for the Labor Party leadership and lost.

He laid low for a while, but Mr Rudd's name surfaces every time there is a perceived weakness in the ALP vis-à-vis chances of losing to Opposition leader Tony Abbott in 2013.

Just two weeks ago, Mr Rudd's name resurfaced again caused by a T-shirt design contest he took part in.

However, Mr Rudd insisted the reelection bid was not for the ALP top post but for the electoral district of Griffith.

2.     Peter Slipper

The former Speaker of the House slipped from his post because of a sexual harassment case filed against him by a former male staff. He held the post for barely a year from Nov 24, 2011 to Oct 9, 2012 when he resigned because of the scandal.

He initially stepped aside from his duties while charges of fraud and sexual harassment were investigated, but despite the defeat of a motion of no confidence against him, Mr Slipper opted to quit.

Two months later, the case brought against him by former staff James Ashby, 33, were proven to be vexatious and were dismissed. However, on Dec 21, Mr Ashby said he will lodge a fresh sexual harassment case against Mr Slipper with Fair Work Australia (FWA) despite the Federal Court decision against Mr Ashby for abuse of the court's process.

3.     Craig Thomson

Mr Thomson's downfall was not caused by his being an MP but goes all the way back when he was became national secretary of the Health Services Union (HSU). Auditors hired by the HSU claimed in December 2008 that Mr Thomson misused the union funds, including allegedly using the corporate credit card to hire the services of prostitutes.

Mr Thomson denied the charges, but because of questions over his honesty and the use of ALP funds to pay for his lawyer's fees, Mr Thomson requested for suspension of his ALP membership on April 28, 2012 and declared sitting on the crossbenches as an independent.

However, the Coalition, which pushed for the embattled MP's ouster, considers him a pariah and pulls out a member whenever Mr Thomson votes with the Opposition in a bid to negate his vote.

To Mr Thomson's credit, the sex trade worker retracted her statement against the MP on the basis that she was out of Australia when the alleged sexual tryst happened.

Brothels such as A Touch of Class in Sydney and The Boardroom in Melbourne were even approached by FWA to bolster its case against Mr Thomson, but found none, prompting the MP's lawyer to comment, "The fisherman have drawn in their nets and there is nothing there but an old boot."

4.     Mary Jo Fisher

If FWA found it difficult to fish evidence against Mr Thomson, it was relatively easy to file shoplifting charges against Liberal member of the Australian Senate representing South Australia because of two incidents that ironically involved measly amounts.

The first incident happened in July 2011 and the second on June 2012. However, shoplifting charges were dropped against her after it was discovered that Ms Fisher was recovering from depression. She eventually quit her post on Aug 14, 2012.

Besides the two shoplifting incidents, Ms Fisher is also known for her Time Warp and Hokey-Pokey dance in Parliament while delivering a speech.

5.     Karyn Paluzzano

While this New South Wales Labor MP quit her parliament seat representing Penrith two years ago, she was given a minimum 12-month sentence for rorting entitlements in September 2012.

Ms Paluzzano was charged with falsely filling out forms to claim money for her staff and pleaded guilty to inappropriate use of sitting day relief payments between 2006 and 2007 and giving false evidence at a 2010 inquiry.

The ex-MP, who claimed receiving threatening letters and decapitated rabbit bodies at her house, was given a one-year home detention sentence.

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