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Most of Thomson's spendings ok: AEC

MOST of the money spent by the Health Services Union on Craig Thomson's 2007 election campaign in the seat of Dobell did not breach electoral guidelines, the Australian Electoral Commission has found.

Acting on a request from Special Minister of State Gary Gray, the AEC analysed Fair Work Australia's report into alleged financial mismanagement within the national office of the HSU against reporting obligations under the Electoral Act.

The resulting 22-page report dealt with a number of matters arising from the FWA's long-running investigation, including allegations Mr Thomson, as national secretary of the HSU, misused members' funds in his bid to win Dobell for the Labor Party.

Mr Thomson, who has been suspended from the Labor Party, denies the allegations and will make a statement to the House of Representatives next week.

While most of the $71,000 the union spent on Mr Thomson's campaign was found to have complied with the act, the AEC said in a statement on Wednesday is was seeking "further information about four items of expenditure which total $17,014.88".

"... some items of expenditure that have been identified would have been required to be incorporated into the total of all amounts received or paid in the 2006-2007 and 2007-2008 annual returns of the HSU National Office and of the ALP NSW Branch. Inquiries have been made to establish whether that has occurred," the AEC's statement read.

The items in question, all of which were below the reporting threshold set out by the act, relate to the establishment of Mr Thomson's campaign office ($4,826.99), payments to the Dobell Federal Electoral Council ($3500), campaign bus costs ($1,277.96) and payments to LBH Promotions ($7,409.93). The disclosure thresholds that were in place during the period covered by the FWA report were $10,300 for the 2006-2007 financial year and $10,500 for the 2007-2008 financial year

In a statement released late on Wednesday Mr Gray noted "the AEC has not identified any breaches of the Electoral Act by Craig Thomson".

He also revealed he had "sought advice on whether the FWA report raised any issues concerning the operation of the Electoral Act that should be considered by the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM) for possible remedy".

"The commission's letter to me contains some valuable recommendations on amendments to the disclosure provisions of the Electoral Act, which I have referred along with all of the others to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters," he said.

The AEC made a total of 17 recommendations, including amending the disclosure threshold to am "appropriate level".

Topics:  australian electoral commission, craig thomson


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