The story of the month is Craig Thomson’s arrest on 150 charges of fraud. I thought I’d have a look in Trove, so I did a quick search for “member of parliament fraud” and found a bunch! The first few I found shown below.
MPs charged with fraud – not at all news.
People have been talking about Thomson’s arrest and likely subsequent trial as if it’s unprecedented. As you’ll see below, it’s happened numerous times, and democracy hasn’t failed as a result. I recommend cool heads and remembering the presumption of innocence.
I haven’t got time right now to fix the OCR for all of these, but if you’re feeling nice pop over to Trove and fix them up.
NSW – 1903
Geo Howarth, MP for Willoughby in the State Legislature.
1903 ‘MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT.’, Kalgoorlie Miner (WA : 1895 – 1950), 15 April, p. 5, viewed 1 February, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88853956
NSW (again) – 1906
Mr. A. M. Millard, MLA for Queanbeyan – convicted, this article reporting the subsequent booting out.
1906 ‘A CONVICTED MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT.’, Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 – 1954), 9 March, p. 2, viewed 1 February, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article44493852
South Australia – 1906
Former Mayor of Adelaide and sitting MP Charles Tucker.
1906 ‘AN ADELAIDE SENSATION.’, Bendigo Advertiser (Vic. : 1855 – 1918), 24 September, p. 5, viewed 1 February, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article89521012
Perth – 1910
MLA for Beverly charged with Fraud.
1910 ‘MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT ON TRIAL.’, Barrier Miner(Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 – 1954), 13 April, p. 2, viewed 1 February, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article45106910
These are some of the results, picking those where the person charged was an MP at the time. There are lots more. Sitting MPs being charged with fraud – and other crimes – is nothing new.It’s not surprising that when you have a population of at least a few hundred parliamentarians in a country, occasionally something untoward will allegedly occur.