Friday, February 1, 2013

An accident of timing?

On Wednesday, Julia Gillard announced that Australians would go to the polls on September 14th. By Australian standards, giving such a long lead-in time is unheard of.

Then yesterday, the excrement hit the air conditioner; the Herald reports:

The arrest yesterday of former Labor MP Craig Thomson on 150 fraud charges points starkly to the long, hard haul Prime Minister Julia Gillard has mapped out with her decision to hold the next election in eight months.
Thomson, who was suspended from the party last April after allegations that he had spent Health Services Union fund on prostitutes and entertaining during his time as national secretary, has remained a key vote for the Government on the crossbenches.
He already faces civil action in the Federal Court and a criminal conviction would force Thomson out of Parliament, leaving a dangerous hole in the minority Government's already wafer-thin bloc.
Even if, as is likely, the case has not been concluded before the September 14 poll, Thomson's arrest has given further fuel to Opposition leader Tony Abbott's unrelenting attack on Gillard's probity and judgment.
"The Thomson matter isn't just about what Craig Thomson may or may not have done, what he did or didn't do," Abbott said. "It's always been about the judgment of the Prime Minister, who was running a protection racket for Craig Thomson for months and years."

Was Ms Gillard aware of the impending arrest of Thomson? And if so, was his impending arrest a factor in Julia Gillard's decision on Wednesday to announce a September election date?

Things just got very interesting in Australian Federal politics, and it will be fascinating to see whether Ms Gillard's Labor Government can actually survive until election day, or whether the independent MP's arrest will sound the death knell for the Gillard administration.

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