News24

Australia: Lawmaker reveals death threats

2012-05-21 11:04

Sydney - An Australian politician embroiled in a sex scandal whose vote is crucial to Prime Minister Julia Gillard's hold on power said on Monday he had received death threats and been urged to kill himself.

Craig Thomson again denied claims that he wrongly spent almost $490 000 of trade union funds on prostitutes, lavish meals and his re-election campaign before he entered politics.

But he told parliament that since the allegations surfaced in the media, he had received violent hate mail, including one message which read: "You are dead - a bullet between the eyes will save taxpayers money."

He said another read: "Go cut your wrists or better still hang yourself."

Thomson, who has not been charged or convicted of any crime, accused the opposition and media of creating the hostile environment he faced, at one point breaking down as he spoke of a reporter targeting his house.

"You have unleashed the lynch mob," he said. "And you have fanned it. And for that you all ultimately are responsible."

Fever pitch

Thomson was one of 72 members of the Labour Party elected to the 150-seat House of Representatives in the August 2010 election which resulted in a hung parliament.

Gillard has suspended him from Labour over the ongoing scandal but he sits as an independent and she needs his vote, along with those of two independents and a Greens MP, to be able to outnumber the conservative opposition.

The saga surrounding Thomson reached fever pitch earlier this month when the government's Fair Work tribunal released its findings that he misused Health Services Union funds between 2002 and first entering parliament in 2007.

"I'm very conscious that in the eyes of many of the public I've already been charged, convicted and sentenced," Thomson told parliament.

He said he had made many enemies in his years at the HSU where members did not like the increased transparency he had introduced, and claimed he was now the victim of a concerted smear campaign.

"I was the subject on numerous occasions of threats and intimidation" while working for the union, he said during an hour-long address to parliament.

Should Thomson resign as an MP his seat would probably be won by the opposition, significantly weakening Gillard's fragile coalition government.