THE damage being inflicted on the government by the Craig Thomson affair shows no sign of abating with the MP referred to Parliament's privileges committee again yesterday - this time for allegedly misleading Parliament during his one-hour statement on Monday.
The matter will be dealt with as a priority, despite the Speaker, Peter Slipper, ruling last night that no prima facie case had been established that Mr Thomson deliberately misled the House of Representatives.
The opposition accepted the ruling by Mr Slipper, who is still the Speaker despite standing aside pending the resolution of sexual harassment allegations against him. The matter was instead referred to the committee by an opposition motion the government supported.
The committee's powers range from jailing a member, fining them $5000 and suspending them to issuing a reprimand.
While it is unlikely the Labor-dominated committee will issue any findings before any Federal Court hearing of Mr Thomson's alleged civil breaches involving the misuse of almost $500,000 in union funds, it will be able to hold hearings involving key players in the Health Services Union scandal, ensuring the matter stays in the public eye.
On Monday, Mr Thomson was referred to the privileges committee for failing to declare on his register of interests that the ALP had been paying his legal bills.
Yesterday, the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, called Mr Thomson's statement ''utterly implausible'' and the manager of opposition business, Christopher Pyne, alleged Mr Thomson had misled the House several times.
His allegations centred mainly on Mr Thomson's claims that he was set up by a union official, Marco Bolano, over the alleged use of prostitutes. Mr Thomson's claims that his phone could have been hacked to make it appear he had called brothels was ''a far-fetched conspiracy theory'', Mr Pyne said, and Mr Thomson had not produced a shred of evidence or a witness to back his claims.
Mr Thomson was absent from Parliament yesterday but was watching proceedings. ''Sleazy Libs still want trial by Parliament, just don't get it,'' he tweeted.
Despite the widespread condemnation of Mr Thomson's statement, the independents maintained the courts, not Parliament, must judge Mr Thomson and they would not abandon the government.
But the NSW independent Rob Oakeshott said Mr Thomson had dragged the Parliament into disrepute and he signalled a series of actions he would push Parliament to take, including a motion censuring the now-exiled MP. This may be debated next week but the Parliament is unlikely to pass it.
Another NSW independent, Tony Windsor, restated he would not judge Mr Thomson until the courts had acted.
The government, Greens and independents support in principle adopting a code of conduct for the House and last night it was agreed to debate the matter on Monday when non-government business was discussed.
At the same meeting, between the Coalition, Labor, Greens and independents, to decide what other non-government business to debate, the Liberals voted against putting up their own motion to suspend Mr Thomson for 14 days.
Mr Oakeshott supported the debate but the Liberals chose to devote the allotted time to debate their motions on motorcycle safety, autism, renewable energy and recognising the band of the Royal NSW Lancers.
The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, who has been in Chicago at a NATO summit on the withdrawal from Afghanistan, is due back in Parliament today.