Australian Employment Minister Eric Abetz sought an apology from convicted MP Craig Thomson for misleading Parliament and denying he misused the Health Services Union (HSU) credit card when he was still the union's national secretary.
Reuters A prostitute from Eastern Europe waits for customers along the Promenade des Anglais in Nice. (Reuters)
Mr Thomson was meted on Tuesday by the Melbourne Magistrate Court a minimum five-year sentence for theft and fraud. Until his conviction, the MP denied misusing the HSU credit card to pay for the services of prostitutes, withdraw cash and shoulder the expenses of his former wife.
Mr Abetz said, quoted by The Sydney Morning Herald, "Mr Thomson owes an apology to the thousands of honest union members he defrauded, in addition to the parliament and public whom he misled."
At the same time, Mr Abetz sought an apology also from Opposition leader Bill Shorten on behalf of Labor Party, where Mr Thomson was a member until he was kicked out over the HSU scandal, for the promotion and protection it provided the MP from Dobell over the years.
Using the court decision to his Labor, Mr Abetz said, "There is no greater illustration than Craig Thomson of the Labor Party's culture of putting the interest of dodgy union bosses ahead of the interest of honest and decent workers."
Independent MP Andrew Wilkie supported the call of Mr Abetz and added he would support any effort from the government to bring the convicted MP to Parliament and have his explain his side.
Acting HSU National Secretary Chris Brown described Mr Thomson as a good liar, adding, "I don't know the reasons why he took the course that he took, but I imagine that if he had fessed up right at the very beginning when we uncovered this stuff then his parliamentary career would have been very short."
Labor is believed to have initially supported the MP from Dobell because it was a minority government and needed every legislator to hang on to power. Until his conviction, Mr Thomson stood by his story that HSU whistleblower Marco Bolano threatened to ruin his political career and would set him up using hookers.
He likewise insisted on the same story when his third wife, Zoe Arnold confronted him when the issue became public. She told the Australian Women's Weekly in mid-2012, "I told Craig the day the first story had come out that life would be much easier for us if he confessed to visiting brothels and admitted he had used his work credit card ... Craig looked me straight in the eye and said, 'But I didn't do it.'"