Labor Party : PM Must face Thomson issue - Abott

Labor Party : PM Must face Thomson issue - Abott

Prime Minister Julia Gillard and the Labor Party have many questions to answer over MP Craig Thomson, the opposition says.

Mr Thomson, the member for Dobell, is facing scrutiny over his former union credit card allegedly being used to pay for prostitutes, but he denies any wrongdoing.

The NSW MP also this week belatedly updated his listing in the parliamentary register of members' interests to add that the ALP's NSW branch had paid a "sum of money" - reportedly $90,000 - to his lawyers on his behalf.

The payment followed Mr Thomson withdrawing a defamation claim against Fairfax.

If a by-election is triggered in Dobell - which could come in the event of a member being declared bankrupt or facing a jail term longer than a year - and Labor loses the seat, government could change hands.

Ms Gillard is standing by the backbencher.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott told Fairfax Radio on Thursday that Ms Gillard was protecting Mr Thomson because she was "desperate to hold on to power".

"As far as prime minister Gillard is concerned ... Craig Thomson is a protected species who can do no wrong," Mr Abbott said.

"I think there are a lot of questions that he should answer. There are a lot of questions that the Labor Party and the prime minister need to answer."

Assistant Treasurer Bill Shorten said Mr Thomson is a hard-working member of the Labor caucus.

"I've got complete confidence in Craig Thomson," he told Sky News on Thursday.

Mr Shorten said none of the claims made against Mr Thomson were true.

Labor backbencher Graham Perrett said it was not uncommon for members to forget to update the interests register.

"He acknowledged that, the PM acknowledged that, he corrected the record," Mr Perrett said.

"Mr Abbott, who has got a lot more experience as a politician than Craig Thomson, he forgot to update the register for quite a while."

Senior Liberal Eric Abetz said former prime minister John Howard - who in 1997 removed three of his frontbenchers over conduct issues - would have handled the issue very differently.

"There would have been a grilling of the individual and if need be the consequences to flow," Senator Abetz said.


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