Abbott calls on Thomson to resign

THE government has accused the Opposition leader, Tony Abbott, of breaching the Crimes Act by suggesting Craig Thomson's wellbeing would be best served if the MP resigned from Parliament.

With concern growing among politicians about Mr Thomson's wellbeing as the pressure on him mounts, Mr Abbott said yesterday this could be alleviated easily.

''The best thing for everyone, to take the pressure off him, to take the pressure off his family, would be for him to leave the Parliament,'' he said.

''If the Prime Minister was putting his interests and the interests of his family first, she would allow him to leave the Parliament. She would not insist on clinging to his vote.''

If Mr Thomson did resign, there would be a by-election in his marginal central coast seat of Dobell which, according to polls, the Coalition would win, and the government would fall.

Mr Thomson said Mr Abbott's insincerity underscored his claim that the Opposition Leader was unfit to be an MP, let alone prime minister.

Labor ministers accused Mr Abbott of being more concerned with political self-interest than Mr Thomson's state of mind. The manager of government business, Anthony Albanese, said Mr Abbott was threatening to continue persecuting Mr Thomson unless he left the Parliament.

Mr Albanese said the ultimatum of ''we'll lay off if you you just resign from Parliament'' amounted to a breach of section 28 of the Crimes Act.

''It shows yet again his complete disregard for the rule of law, for the separation of powers and for the presumption of innocence, and I think he needs to have a good look at himself,'' Mr Albanese said.

''The opposition need to consider the damage that is being done to the political fabric of this country by the nature and the tone of the debate that is going on.''

Colleagues of Mr Thomson says he does not want to leave Parliament, nor is there anything that would disqualify him and force him to leave office.

Under the constitution, an MP or senator is disqualified from the Parliament only if declared bankrupt or convicted of a criminal offence that carries a custodial penalty of a year or more.

Fair Work Australia has found Mr Thomson breached the Registered Organisations Act 156 times when he was the national secretary of the Health Services Union between 2002 and 2007, when he entered Parliament.

These breaches, which Mr Thomson denies, are being referred to the Federal Court but are only civil matters.

If convicted, Mr Thomson would face a fine and remain eligible to stay in Parliament.

Even if one of the two police investigations under way were to lay charges, it is unlikely a criminal trial would be completed before the next federal election, which is due in spring next year.

The Coalition was not subscribing to Labor's protests about victimising Mr Thomson, pointing out that Labor MPs had been vicious towards Mal Colston as it sought to drive him from Parliament after ratting on the ALP.

Mr Abbott said Mr Thomson had only himself to blame for his predicament, and the shadow treasurer, Joe Hockey, said he felt more sorry for the health workers whose union dues were allegedly wasted by Mr Thomson and other members of the HSU hierarchy.

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