Former MP Craig Thomson's alleged use of union-issued credit cards on escorts and personal expenses does not amount to fraud, his lawyer says.
Thomson, 49, has pleaded not guilty to charges of obtaining financial advantage by deception over the alleged misuse of his Health Services Union credit card while he was the organisation's national secretary and a Labor MP.
His barrister Greg James QC did not deny that Thomson made the transactions, but said no criminal deception had occurred.
"The accused here has been given the right to use the credit cards for transactions," he told Melbourne Magistrates Court on Wednesday.
"He doesn't deceive the bank, the credit card provider or the service provider.
"He doesn't deceive the HSU."
Mr James said there was no evidence to suggest the businesses paid by Thomson's cards had been defrauded or left shortchanged.
"The providers couldn't care less about his internal relationship with the HSU," he said.
"All they care about is whether the bank or the credit card will honour the transaction - and they did and the debts were paid."
Thomson faces 145 dishonesty charges over the alleged misuse of $28,449 between 2002 and 2008.
He is accused of using the cards to pay escorts, make cash withdrawals, and to pay for travel, cigarettes and firewood for his ex-wife.
Mr James said media interviews in which Thomson suggested someone else had set him up were made in the context of a "failing marriage" and "political candidacy".
He suggested Thomson may have made a "mistake" in paying for cigarettes and firewood with his union credit card.
"It's simple - you use the wrong credit card," Mr James said.
Magistrate Charlie Rozencwajg adjourned the hearing until Friday.