Thursday, December 9, 2021

PM directs Andrew Laming to awareness course on behaviour with women

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has again spoken with controversial Liberal backbencher Andrew Laming over his behaviour online, and directed him to complete an awareness course.

Nine News reported the Queensland MP accused one woman of misappropriating funds from a charity organisation she worked at, which she denies, and harassed another woman and her husband online.

Those reports prompted Morrison to haul Laming into his office, and demand he apologise— which Laming did, in Parliament, hours before the news story was broadcast.

But further reports yesterday that Mr Laming had downplayed the apology in comments made on social media saw Mr Morrison direct the backbencher to seek professional guidance.

Screenshots of a Facebook Messenger conversation were made public, featuring Mr Laming saying he was “surprised by the response”, and while he would “willingly apologise” he “didn’t even know” what he was apologising for when he stood up in Parliament on Thursday.

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Today Mr Morrison said he had contacted Mr Laming again.

“I spoke to him again this morning, and I’m arranging for Mr Laming to now go and get appropriate assistance, through an appropriate course, to build his understanding and awareness about his actions,” the Prime Minister said.

Morrison is facing calls to disendorse Mr Laming ahead of the next election due to his behaviour.

Crossbench senator Rex Patrick said Mr Laming’s “shameful” conduct should see him expelled from the LNP.

The Prime Minister would not speculate on Mr Laming’s future with the Liberal Party, but when questioned stopped short of endorsing him.

“I’m not a member of the LNP Queensland division, our state divisions make decisions about pre-selections,” he said.

“Every single member of Parliament, me included, has to renominate for the endorsement of our party, and that’s a process underway currently with the LNP.

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“And I’m sure selectors will be thinking about all of these things.”

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese said Mr Laming’s position in Parliament was untenable.

“If Andrew Laming isn’t removed by the Liberal Party, we will certainly be seeking to remove him at the next election,” he said.

Laming’s Facebook page no longer appeared to be online on Saturday afternoon.

In a statement, a spokesman for the backbencher said his apology in Parliament was real.

“Mr Laming’s statement in the House on Thursday was sincere, genuine and addressed to anyone hurt by his comments,” a spokesman said.

“His first instinct after being made aware of the distress experienced by some in the community was to apologise prior to any material being put before him.

“Mr Laming is committed to improving the way he communicates online, and will be undergoing cultural sensitivity and online communication training to better understand the impact of his words.”

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