There are good reasons to think there is a lot more to come out about Andrew Laming’s behaviour during his 17 years as a Queensland MP.
That’s because the episodes that have pushed him into the political spotlight are not one-offs, but part of a pattern of behaviour his opponents say spread to every part of his conduct during his time as the LNP member for Bowman.
Even though Laming has had almost no national profile until this week, locals say he has made it his mission to be a dominant political force in the southeast region of Brisbane.
Crikey has been speaking to many of Laming’s political opponents who for years have tried to call out his alleged bullying behaviour, including to the highest parts of the Liberal Party.
Get Crikey FREE to your inbox every weekday morning with the Crikey Worm.
Yet it’s taken a national movement against harassment of women in Parliament to finally bring down a person who many — on both sides of politics — contend should have been weeded out much earlier.
As more women come forward with complaints of online harassment, there’s also a growing body of evidence emerging of Laming’s disdain for the political system that made him an untouchable force in the region for so long.
A key accusation is that he frequently interfered in state and local government elections and used taxpayer resources to campaign against state and local government adversaries.
Queensland state Labor MP Kim Richards, who is one of the women who has spoken out against Laming’s online harassment, wrote to former Morrison minister Mathias Cormann in 2018 urging him to investigate Laming’s use of taxpayer resources for state electioneering purposes.
In the letter to Cormann, who at the time was the special minister for state responsible for administration of parliamentary entitlements, Richards urged the government to investigate a mail-out sent by Laming during the Queensland election campaign period of late November 2017.
The mail-out invited residents to consider their voting intentions, and included a “Redlands report card” inviting residents to rate Richards’ performance in a number of categories, including “selfies and promos”.
Richards told Cormann the mail-out was “clearly for the purpose of party business and the re-election of the former LNP state member Matt McEachan” and urged the federal government to investigate.
The government banned parliamentarians from using printed material that is not for the dominant purpose of parliamentary business on January 1, 2018. Cormann said because these new rules had not yet come into effect, Laming was not in breach.
Similar accusations has been levelled at Laming before. He was one of three Liberal MPs investigated by the federal police in 2007 for alleged breaches of parliamentary entitlements, including printing allowances. But an inquiry cleared the three MPs prior to the 2007 federal election.
Richards has also accused Laming of harassing her online, including offering up a “$100 donation to your chosen charity” to help him identify people the MP was seen with on Valentine’s Day and depicting her in a cartoon with the name “Skimmy” — which she interpreted as an attempt to fat-shame her.
Crikey spoke to other women who had similar complaints.
Vicki Schofield, a Bowman resident who spoke out against Laming’s response to an asylum seeker campaign, said she was shocked when Laming incited hateful personal comments about her in the comments section of a post on his Facebook page, mocking an interview she had done with a local paper.
“Someone else made a derogatory comment about how I spent more time at the food hall, and he wrote a response like ‘you’re probably right’.
“For a couple of weeks I was pretty anxious I would be recognised from the photograph. There were hundreds of comments … It was just an out-and-out attack, and he encouraged it.”
Crikey has put questions to Laming’s office.
*The story was amended to include Cormann’s response to Richards