Most New Zealanders who go to Australia are a credit to themselves and their country of birth. Craig Thomson, MP for the Federal seat of Dobell in New South Wales, doesn't fall into that category with his arrest on 150 charges of the misuse of hundreds of thousands of dollars of members funds from his time as National Secretary of the Health Services Union.
For Tony Abbott, Thomson is the gift that keeps on coming. The news of his arrest overshadowed the announcement by Gillard of the election date as 14 September. His trial and the events leading up to it will ensure the sad saga of Julia Gillard's attempts to prop him up remain in the public focus. The electorate will not quickly forget that as late as 16 August 2011 during Question Time the Prime Minister was asked if her confidence in Craig Thomson was based on a thorough investigation of his credibility. She replied, "I have complete confidence in the member for Dobell. I look forward to him continuing to do that job for a very long, long, long time to come."
That confidence had a practical bent when she persuaded the NSW branch of the Labor Party to stump up with hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund his legal bills only to cut him adrift when the stench of his corruption become too great for even her to handle.
For Labor the best (and entirely possible) outcome is that Thomson will be forced to declare himself bankrupt and resign his seat. The timing of that could obviate the need for a bi-election.
Tony Abbott will be hoping this doesn't happen. This, coupled with the shock resignation of Labor's Leader in the Senate yesterday and the furor
surrounding Gillard's dumping of long serving Northern Territory Senator Trish Crossin from Labor's ticket in the forthcoming election in favour of an indigenous candidate who was not even a member of the ALP until recently, a move that has left the Northern Territory branch of the ALP in disarray, constitutes the worst possible start to Labor's election campaign.