THE DISGRACE THAT STOPPED A NATION

It’s no wonder we’ve lost faith in our institutions.

Yesterday, Australians were treated to 55 minutes of a Federal MP behaving like a five-year-old boy.

“I didn’t do anything wrong. It was the other kids’ fault. I’m a good boy, really I am.”

Don’t get me wrong: these are adult allegations.

But they should be dealt with by adult institutions – like the police force and judiciary – instead of the circus known as Coward’s Castle.

If Craig Thomson has evidence of a conspiracy by former colleagues at the Health Services Union, he should take it to the police.

If he wants to defend himself against allegations of misappropriation of funds, made by the same people, he should agree to be interviewed by police.

Then he should get back to his real job: representing his constituents on the NSW Central Coast.

This has been a four-year farce which has distracted a minority government from doing its real job. (insert timeline here)

Most of us have simply tuned out. Those who tuned in were treated to a display of cognitive dissonance.

Showing supreme confidence, Mr. Thomson referred to himself in the third person.

“My friends wonder who this ‘Craig Thomson’ is, the one they read about in the newspapers,” he said.

“I want to tell you about another Craig Thomson.”

Using illeism is a way to distance yourself from what’s being said about you.

There were no outright denials – just a smokescreen.

Then he constructed a storyline in which he was the hero; the HSU’s National Secretary Kathy Jackson and President Michael Williamson were the villains.

He tried to clean up rorting in the HSU. They didn’t like it. He was warned he’d be set up with hookers.

Apparently he was in WA when one encounter with a prostitute in NSW was said to occur.

But what if the brothel had sex workers on its books in WA? Or the credit card transaction was processed several days later?

Now, he’s asking for police to examine CCTV footage from the brothels. But most of the alleged encounters took place in his hotel room.

He can’t explain his mobile phone records, but insists his enemies had copies of his driver’s licence and credit card.

These allegations can be aired in federal parliament because it provides protection from defamation laws.

So I have a message for the Member for Dobell: Put up, or shut up.

If you have hard evidence against Kathy Jackson and Michael Williamson, give it to the police and let justice take its course.

I know that you have been a victim of trial by media.

But how can you decry the practice then turn around and do it to someone else?

The actions of everyone involved are eroding the foundations on which this democracy is built.

No one comes out of it well.

Why are union bosses driving around in flash cars, earning $270,00 a year, funded by the country’s lowest-paid workers?

What have they actually done to help the health workers they represent?

And how could this have gone on for so long without charges being laid?

To her credit, Kathy Jackson reported the allegations to both the police and the media.

She, too, may be tainted. But she is made of stern stuff.

Her reputation has been smeared; a dirt-encrusted shovel left by her door; her ambitions shattered.

On the ABC’s 730 last night, she called the whole thing “a bizarre circus” and Craig Thomson a “pathetic and delusional man”.

Based on her tip-offs, Strike Force Carnarvon has conducted several raids. Sources say police are close to laying charges.

In the meantime, like it or not, Craig Thomson is entitled to the presumption of innocence.

Independent Tony Windsor is calling for a parliamentary code of conduct, tentatively supported by Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Yesterday’s circus showed, yet again, why this is necessary.

We, the audience, are paying good money to see the big-ticket items: debate on social inclusion, how to respond to the global financial crisis, managing the mining boom.

Instead, we’ve been given the worst seats in the house.

Up the back; hidden from view; forgotten by those who make the decisions that shape each and every day of our lives.

They’d much rather juggle the truth, breathe some fire, and perform endless back flips.

Why must this show go on?