29 Apr 2012

Australia's PM moves against Thomson and Slipper

7:24 pm on 29 April 2012

Australia's Prime Minister Julia Gillard has asked MP Craig Thomson to quit the Labor Party and told Speaker Peter Slipper to accept a longer suspension as she moves to dispel what she says is a "dark cloud" hanging over the Federal Parliament.

Mr Thomson, who is facing allegations about the misuse of a union credit card, has been suspended from the ALP but says he remains a "Labor person" and will continue to vote with the Government as an independent MP.

Meanwhile, the ABC reports that Mr Slipper has moved to head off a possible no-confidence motion by confirming he will not be in the chair when Parliament resumes on budget night on 8 May.

Mr Thomson has been under investigation by Fair Work Australia for nearly four years over allegations he used his Health Services Union credit card to pay for prostitutes.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday afternoon, he confirmed that he had asked to be suspended from the Labor Party after a discussion with Ms Gillard late on Saturday.

And he savaged Fair Work Australia over its handling of the drawn-out investigation into allegations against him.

"It's been my position right from the start was that this should have been dealt with within six months," he said.

"There are no charges against me, there are some unsubstantiated allegations that are there... I completely maintain my innocence."

Ms Gillard also confirmed that Mr Slipper had agreed to extend his exile from the Speaker's chair.

Mr Slipper is under investigation over alleged use of taxi cab charge vouchers and is also facing claims that he sexually harassed a male staffer.

He has denied the allegations against him.