Tue, May 22, 2012 - Page 5 News List

Embattled MP in Australia says he is getting threats

AFP, SYDNEY

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

MP Craig Thomson again denied claims that he wrongly spent almost AU$500,000 (US$490,000) of trade union funds on prostitutes, lavish meals and his re-election campaign before he entered politics.

However, 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.”

Gillard has suspended him from Labor 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 (HSU) 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.

If Thomson ends up resigning as an MP, his seat would probably be won by the opposition, significantly weakening Gillard’s fragile coalition government.

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