In some ways, Andrew Laming represents the government’s broader trouble with assault and misogyny in the halls of Parliament.
The flurry of revelations that followed Brittany Higgins coming forward about her alleged rape proved that the prime minister cannot simply wait out these kinds of issues. And the same is true with Laming. It’s become increasingly clear there will always be at least one more allegation, one more scandal, concerning the disgraced member for Bowman.
The revelation on the weekend that Laming had allegedly taken an upskirt photo of a young woman’s underwear finally prompted some serious consequences; Laming will take “empathy training” and have no choice but to quit politics at the next election, likely to be mid-2022.
A mere year or so more of his taxpayer-funded salary? I think we can agree this inspiring leadership sends a very strong message to the community and has nothing to do with the realities of what a byelection might do to Morrison’s wafer-thin majority.
But why should we expect swift action? Laming has been operating in the open for many years. Here are a few of his greatest hits:
- In 2013 he responded to a clash between Indigenous and Pacific Islander groups south of Brisbane with the conservative diptych of racialised commentary and attacks on welfare recipients: “Mobs tearing up Logan tonight. Did any of them do a day’s work today, or was it business as usual and welfare on tap?” He later tried to “clarify” he simply wanted people “working together to resolve these riots”
- In December 2016 he spent a weekend scrapping with Facebook meme page “The Simpsons Against the Liberals”. While it doesn’t reach the grotesque levels he’s eminently capable of, it did give us one of the funniest/saddest things any elected official has ever said. In the midst of answering seemingly every single comment directed at him, he pointed out to one Liberal-hating Simpsons fan: “I deal with much larger meme pages than this in my lunch hour”
- In 2018 he was forced to apologise when it was revealed that he’d pushed over Reece Mairs, a 12-year-old boy who had the temerity to get in his way during a fun run (emphasis very much ours). Reece’s mother said Laming “didn’t even check to see if he was alright. That was disgusting. I’m absolutely amazed at what he has done”
- After a video surfaced of Gold Coast Young LNP chairman and Laming staffer Barclay McGain smirking along with racist comments aimed at Indigenous people, Laming reportedly sacked him. By March this year it was revealed McGain was never fired, merely stood down for six months and welcomed back in January
- That same month, Laming was kind enough to make it clear that the post “Deny it’s Australia Day. That’ll help petrol sniffing and school attendance in remote Australia” was in fact “not racist”
- After revelations that Laming had allegedly bullied and harassed his constituents, Morrison leapt into action, “hauling” Laming in his office to demand he apologise. Which is interesting given both victims claimed to have alerted Morrison’s office and got no response
- Regardless, a Facebook message was leaked where Laming said he “didn’t even know” what he was apologising for.
Again, if pushing over a 12-year-old at a fun run is not sufficient for people to ask whether politics is the job for you, perhaps it’s not surprising that the man accused of upskirting a young woman gets roughly a year’s notice.
Update:Queensland police investigated the matter and said they found no evidence to indicate an offence had been committed. Dr Laming has received public apologies from many figures who repeated these allegations. No formal complaint of bullying was made against Dr Laming.