The jailing of Craig Thomson does not put to bed the saga of the former union boss and federal Labor MP.
The one-time national secretary of the Health Services Union was sentenced on Tuesday to three months in jail for spending union funds on prostitutes and personal expenses.
He will try to appeal the sentence and conviction in November.
Abbott government strategists are determined to keep the powderkeg of union corruption alight for as long as possible – preferably with a big bang just before the next election.
There are two angles being pursued.
The first is an inquiry by the powerful House of Representatives privileges committee into whether the former Labor MP misled parliament.
Thomson gave a comprehensive statement on May 21, 2012 in which he firmly denied any misuse of HSU money and railed against the media, enemies in the union movement and his coalition accusers for making false assertions.
Members of the privileges committee are now wading their way through the wealth of evidence before the courts to establish whether Thomson deliberately misled the House and committed a contempt of parliament.
If found guilty of contempt of parliament, Thomson could face up to a $5000 fine.
But as no Australian federal MP has ever faced such a penalty, the more likely scenario is a reprimand in writing or admonishment at the Bar of parliament by the speaker.
The second line of inquiry is a royal commission into union corruption, under former High Court justice Dyson Heydon.
The HSU is specifically named in the terms of reference for the inquiry, which Prime Minister Tony Abbott says will “shine a great big spotlight into the dark corners of our community”.
The first public hearing is due to be held on April 9, with a report going to the government by the end of the year.
It could be expected a number of incumbent and former HSU officials will front the inquiry, spilling the beans on what could be other allegations against Thomson and cohorts in the union.
Separate from government, the Fair Work Commission is prevented by law from pursuing a civil case relating to the matters on which Thomson has been convicted.
But the commission is taking legal advice on whether to seek civil penalties and other remedies in the Federal Court on matters that were uncovered during its investigations.
More significantly for Thomson’s own hip pocket, the HSU national executive has announced it will try to recover all of the former official’s unauthorised spending, including that not dealt with in the Melbourne court case.
Acting national secretary Chris Brown says this pursuit will be “vigorous and ongoing”.
Thomson is not fading from the headlines just yet.