You might be under the impression that the unfortunate case of child molester Dennis Ferguson is a state government matter. You’d be wrong, at least according to Federal Liberal MP Andrew Laming.
Carbrook, the community near where the paedophile is currently staying under police guard, is in Laming’s electorate of Bowman and he has seized on the issue to boost his political stocks. Laming nearly succumbed to the Ruddslide in Queensland last November, holding off Labor’s Jason Young by only 64 votes (Bowman was held by Con Sciacca from 1987, with a brief interlude in the first Howard term). Liberal sources say Laming is not overly popular with either his State Liberal colleagues or his own Federal electorate council, having achieved little in his first term other than being caught up in — and ultimately cleared of — involvement in the rorting of printing allowances.
But Laming has played the Ferguson issue very smartly. He has had plenty to say about it, complaining about Ferguson’s presence in Carbrook and bizarrely comparing Ferguson’s residence to Guantanamo Bay. He’s also got plenty of coverage in the local paper, the Bayside Bulletin, by attacking local state Labor MP John English (note the campaign group “Parents Against Paedophiles”, presumably to distinguish them from rival group “Parents For Paedophiles”).
But Laming’s moment in the sun — well, it was at night, but anyway — was the now-notorious Carbrook meeting at which Queensland Police Minister Judy Spence, showing some actual political courage of the sort we hardly ever glimpse any more, was howled down by furious locals whose idea of accommodation for Ferguson was either at the end of a rope or somewhere a very long way away. Laming, according to both Liberal and Labor sources, brought along a number of decidedly conservative non-locals who were highly outspoken at the meeting, although most of the attendees were anguished residents who needed no prompting to go along.
The result, according to a Labor source, is Laming has probably boosted his margin in Bowman by 5%, although Liberal sources insist Laming has figured State politics is the way to go for him rather than the esoterica of federal issues.
Either way, never underestimate the capacity of some hang-‘em-high rhetoric to boost a politician’s standing. Or the irrelevance of constitutional niceties like State-Federal differences to a politician anxious for votes.
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