Craig Thomson (politician)

Craig Robert Thomson (born 31 July 1964 in Wellington, New Zealand) is an Australian former trade union official and a former politician[1][2] implicated in the Health Services Union expenses affair. On 15 December 2014 Thomson was found guilty in the County Court of Victoria of thirteen charges of theft, and later convicted and fined A$25,000.[3][4] Other charges of obtaining financial advantage by deception were dismissed on appeal.[5]

Craig Thomson
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Dobell
In office
24 November 2007  7 September 2013
Preceded byKen Ticehurst
Succeeded byKaren McNamara
Personal details
Craig Robert Thomson

(1964-07-31) 31 July 1964
Wellington, New Zealand
Political partyIndependent (2012–2013)
Other political
Labor (2007–2012)
Zoe Arnold (m. 2011)
Alma materUniversity of New South Wales
OccupationUnionist, politician

His conviction followed an appeal against a conviction and sentence in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on 25 March 2014 when Thomson was found guilty of 65 charges of fraud and theft for using Health Services Union funds for personal benefit;[6][7][8][9] and sentenced to twelve months imprisonment, with nine months suspended over two years. Thomson was initially released on bail;[10][11][12][13] and the conviction and sentence subsequently overturned on appeal.[3][4]

Thomson was the national secretary of the Health Services Union from 2002[14] until the 2007 federal election when he was elected to the House of Representatives as member for the Division of Dobell, New South Wales, for the Australian Labor Party.[15] In April 2012 he announced his intention to sit on the crossbench as an independent member of parliament.[16] Thomson lost his seat at the 2013 federal election.

On 17 October 2018, Thomson was struck off as a lawyer.[17]

Early life and education

Thomson was born in Wellington, New Zealand,[15] and raised in Bathurst, New South Wales. He was educated at the University of New South Wales, where he obtained a Bachelor of Commerce degree. He later completed a law degree at the University of Technology Sydney.[18]

Union career

Thomson started his career representing hospital and ambulance workers in New South Wales as an industrial officer for the Health and Research Employee Association (HREA). He became head of the HREA Industrial Department. He was subsequently elected to the position of Assistant Secretary.[19] In 2002, Thomson was elected as the national secretary of the Health Services Union (HSU), a trade union with which the HREA had merged.[20] During his term at the union it was rebranded as a united federal union and the state branches adopted similar names and logos.

Use of credit cards

Succeeding Thomson as general secretary of the HSU in January 2008, Kathy Jackson identified financial irregularities in the union's accounts and engaged external auditors to investigate. Reporting in May, the audit raised "concerns about evidence of misuse of union funds by Mr Thomson."[14] In December, the union engaged tax specialists BDO Kendall to "conduct an investigation" over the alleged improper use of Thomson's union-issued corporate credit card. The Sydney Morning Herald revealed the allegations in April 2009; Thomson denied all wrongdoing and stated that an independent audit had not identified any inappropriate use of the card, noted that other people would have been able to incur charges on the account, and said the accusations had been fabricated by rivals within the HSU.[21]

Fair Work Australia, the federal workplace relations tribunal, conducted a three-year investigation into improprieties in the use of union funds which was tabled in the Senate on 7 May 2012. The Australian Federal Police (AFP) commenced investigations, but Thomson said he was not one of the five people of interest.[22][23][24] On 15 October 2012 Fair Work Australia launched civil proceedings against Thomson related to his use of HSU funds. Thomson stated that he would contest these charges.[25]

On 24 October 2012 members of the NSW Police conducted a search of Thomson's residence and electorate office on the Central Coast. Eight officers loaded vehicles with computers and five large boxes of evidence. Thomson said the search was "routine" and "They took a couple of documents, I volunteered a couple of documents."[26][27] Thomson was arrested at his Central Coast electorate office on 31 January 2013. He faced 173 fraud and theft charges[28] relating to his time at the Health Services Union. NSW Police carried out the arrest warrant on the request of the Victoria Police. Thomson was granted bail and was required to appear before the Melbourne Magistrates Court in early February.[29] Thomson denied the allegations, and said that he would be "vigorously defending these charges."[30]

On 18 February 2014, Thomson was found guilty of defrauding the HSU.[6][7][8][9] Thomson returned to court for a plea hearing on his sentence on 18 March. He also faced civil proceedings to repay $28,000 stolen from the HSU; and the Fair Work Commissioner considered commencing civil proceedings on matters where the magistrate dismissed the criminal charges.[9]

On 25 March 2014, Thomson was sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment with nine months suspended for two years. Magistrate Charlie Rozencwajg said Thomson had shown "arrogance in the extreme", a "breach of trust of the highest order" in misusing members' funds and said Thomson had shown no remorse. The magistrate also said "Nothing has been put before me to suggest that these offences were committed for anything other than greed".[10] Thomson was granted bail to appear in the Victorian County Court on 24 November to appeal both his conviction and sentence.[11][12][13] On 15 December 2014, Thomson was found not guilty of 49 charges of obtaining financial advantage by deception because of a prosecution error.[31] Thomson was proven guilty of thirteen charges of theft, convicted, and fined A$25,000.[3][4][5] In the plea hearing, and handing down the fine and conviction Judge Douglas said that: "Whether it's sex workers or a bottle of wine, it seems to me both of those are self-indulgent," and "It's none of my business that he used a sex worker but it's my business that he used other people's money."[32]

Political career

In November 2007, Thomson stood as the Labor candidate for the seat of Dobell on the Central Coast. He was elected, winning the seat from the incumbent, Ken Ticehurst of the Liberal Party.[33]

Until August 2011, Thomson was the Chair of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics as well as a member of the Privileges Committee and the Petitions Committee. As chair of the economics committee Thomson oversaw inquiries into bank competition and a second report into productivity in Australia.

In December 2011, The Sydney Morning Herald alleged that Thomson had plagiarised internet sources, including Wikipedia, when tabling a report to parliament after an overseas trip. The report in question was unsigned and undated in its cover letter.[34][35]

Impact of the Health Services Union expenses affair

While serving as Member for Dobell, he was investigated by Fair Work Australia for nearly four years over allegations that he used his Health Services Union credit card for improper purposes, commonly referred to as the Health Services Union expenses affair. In April 2012 Thomson asked to be suspended from the Labor Party after a discussion with the then Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and announced his intention to sit on the crossbench as an independent member of parliament.[16] In a statement to the House on 21 May 2012, Thomson professed his innocence and used parliamentary privilege to name a number of individuals and claim that he was set up.[36][37]

He contested his seat at the 2013 election as an independent candidate, however lost to the Liberals' Karen McNamara.[38]

Following criminal proceedings where Thomson was found guilty of theft and fraud charges, the Federal Parliament voted in favour of a motion of "regret" and apologised to the individuals named in Thomson's statement to the House on 21 May 2012. The matter was also referred to Parliament's Privileges Committee to investigate whether Thomson deliberately misled the House.[39]

On 4 April 2014 the New South Wales branch of the Labor Party expelled Thomson as a member of the party.[40][41]

On 11 October 2016, Thomson applied to the Law Society of New South Wales for a practising certificate. The Law Society refused to grant a practising certificate on the basis of his criminal convictions and informed the Prothonotary of the Supreme Court of NSW of that refusal. That led to an application by the Prothonotary to the Supreme Court for declarations that Thomson was not a fit and proper person to remain on the NSW roll of lawyers, and that his name should be removed from the roll.[42] The declarations sought were made by the Court on 17 October 2018.[17][43]

Personal life

Thomson has been married three times, first when employed as an industrial officer at HREA to Lyn Bos-Sharma, then to Christa, and then, on 21 January 2011, to Zoe Arnold, a radio newsreader and media advisor.[44][45] The couple have two daughters, Matilda, born in July 2009,[46] and, Adelaide, born in September 2011.[47][48]

See also


  1. "Member for Dobell, New South Wales". Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 16 March 2013.
  2. "Senators and Members, by Date of Birth". The 42nd Parliament. Parliamentary Library. 17 September 2009. Archived from the original on 28 October 2009. Retrieved 24 January 2010.
  3. Cooper, Adam (17 December 2014). "Craig Thomson convicted and fined $25,000". The Age. Retrieved 17 December 2014.
  4. "Craig Thomson appeal: Former federal MP escapes prison term over theft from Health Services Union". ABC News. Australia. 17 December 2014. Retrieved 17 December 2014.
  5. Carlyon, Peta (15 December 2014). "Craig Thomson appeal: Former MP not guilty of 49 fraud charges, guilty of theft". ABC News. Australia. Retrieved 15 December 2014.
  6. Cooper, Adam (18 February 2014). "Craig Thomson found guilty of fraud, theft charges". The Sydney Morning Herald. Australian Associated Press. Retrieved 18 February 2014.
  7. Akerman, Pia. "Craig Thomson found guilty of defrauding HSU". The Australian. Retrieved 18 February 2014.
  8. Davies, Anne (18 February 2014). "How Craig Thomson came undone". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 18 February 2014.
  9. Donovan, Samantha (18 February 2014). "Thomson found guilty on fraud/theft charges". PM. ABC Radio. Retrieved 18 February 2014.
  10. "Craig Thomson: Former Labor MP sentenced for defrauding Health Services Union". ABC News. Australia. 25 March 2014. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
  11. "Former MP Craig Thomson sentenced to three months' jail". The Herald Sun. 25 March 2014. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
  12. Cooper, Adam (25 March 2014). "Craig Thomson sentenced to 12 months' jail, nine months suspended". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
  13. Akerman, Pia (25 March 2014). "Craig Thomson bailed ahead of appeal over jail sentence for HSU fraud". The Australian. Australian Associated Press. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
  14. "Timeline of HSU credit card affair". Herald Sun. Australian Associated Press. 31 December 2013. Retrieved 20 February 2014.
  15. Carr, Adam. "Commonwealth of Australia Legislative Election 24 November 2007". Psephos. Retrieved 24 January 2010.
  16. "Embattled Thomson suspended from Labor Party". ABC News. Australia. 29 April 2012. Retrieved 7 May 2012.
  17. "Craig Thomson struck off as a lawyer amid HSU expenses scandal fallout". The Sydney Morning Herald. 18 October 2018. Retrieved 27 July 2020.
  18. Metherell, Mark (9 April 2009). "'Country boy from Bathurst' a rising star in Canberra". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  19. Jacobsen, Geesche (4 February 2001). "Ambulance Officers on Strike Alert". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 24 January 2010.
  20. "Mr Craig Thomson MP Dobell". ABC News. Archived from the original on 28 April 2009. Retrieved 24 January 2010.
  21. "Craig Thomson union credit card rort paid for brothels". The Sydney Morning Herald. 8 April 2009. Retrieved 21 August 2011.
  22. Lane, Sabra. "Fair Work report finds Thomson misused union funds". ABC News. Australia. Retrieved 7 May 2012.
  23. "I am not a person of interest: Thomson". AAP. 4 October 2012.
  24. "Michael Williamson arrested and charged over hindering HSU probe". 4 September 2012.
  25. Cullen, Simon (15 October 2012). "Fair Work begins court action against Thomson". ABC News. Australia. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  26. Higgins, Ean; Vasek, Lanai (24 October 2012). "Craig Thomson 'defiant' as police raid home". The Australian. Retrieved 24 October 2012.
  27. McClymont, Kate (24 October 2012). "Police raid Craig Thomson's home". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 24 October 2012.
  28. Farnsworth, Sarah (22 May 2013). "Carig Thomson faces 19 new charges". ABC News. Australia. Retrieved 22 May 2013.
  29. Cullen, Simon (31 January 2013). "Craig Thomson arrested". ABC News. Australia. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
  30. "Police arrest MP Craig Thomson on 150 fraud charges". ABC News. Australia. 31 January 2013. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
  31. "Prosecution error clears Thomson". 15 December 2014. Archived from the original on 15 December 2014. Retrieved 15 December 2014.
  32. Cooper, Adam (17 December 2014). "Craig Thomson convicted and fined $25,000". Fairfax. Retrieved 20 December 2014.
  33. "Labor wins marginal Dobell". ABC News. Australia. 24 November 2007. Retrieved 24 January 2010.
  34. "Craig Thomson 'cut and pasted' report". 14 December 2011.
  35. "Labor MP excels at the cut and paste of world travel". The Sydney Morning Herald. 15 December 2011.
  36. "Craig Thomson's full address to Parliament". The Sydney Morning Herald. 21 May 2012. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  37. Ghazarian, Zareh (21 May 2012). "Craig Thomson shoots from the hip in speech to parliament". The Conversation. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  38. "Dobell MP Craig Thomson concedes defeat as Liberals look set to win Dobell and Robertson". Central Coast Advocate.
  39. Griffiths, Emma (25 February 2014). "Federal Parliament delivers apology over Craig Thomson scandal". ABC News. Australia. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  40. Nicholls, Sean (4 April 2014). "Labor Party expels Michael Williamson, Craig Thomson". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 6 April 2014.
  41. "Former HSU officials Michael Williamson and Craig Thomson expelled from Labor Party". ABC News. Australia. 4 April 2014. Retrieved 6 April 2014.
  42. Mitchell, Georgina (10 May 2018). "Court bid to have Craig Thomson struck off over HSU expenses scandal". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 19 April 2019.
  43. "Prothonotary of the Supreme Court of New South Wales vs. Thompson". AustLII. Retrieved 19 April 2019.
  44. Barnes, Denice (26 January 2011). "Bells ring out for MP and his bride". Central Coast Express Advocate. Archived from the original on 14 March 2011. Retrieved 8 September 2011.
  45. Farr, Malcolm (24 August 2011). "Crean, Turnbull to miss Olley memorial after Abbott demands Thomson debate".
  46. Barnes, Denice (5 August 2009). "Matilda waltzes into life of clearly besotted MP Craig Thomson". Central Coast Express Advocate.
  47. Philips, Jesse; Silmalias, Linda (21 August 2011). "Thomson's pregnant wife: My week was 'hideous'". The Sunday Telegraph.
  48. Lewis, Steve (13 October 2011). "Baby joy for HSU union rort accused MP Craig Thomson". Herald Sun.
Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
Ken Ticehurst
Member for Dobell
Succeeded by
Karen McNamara
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