Coalition MP Andrew Laming has reportedly not withdrawn his nomination for preselection in his Brisbane electorate of Bowman, despite Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s insistence he would not recontest the next federal election.
Laming, who is currently on leave from parliament to undergo counselling and “empathy training” after a series of harassment and misconduct allegations, previously announced he would not recontest the next election.
According to The Australian, Laming will face the Liberal National Party’s candidate vetting committee on Monday and is collecting evidence to disprove allegations made against him.
Laming, who has served as the member for Bowman since 2004, previously delivered an apology in parliament for engaging in aggressive online behaviour towards female constituents. He has also denied that an unwanted photo he took of a woman bending over was unsavoury, claiming it was “dignified”. Queensland police have opted not to charge Laming over the incident.
Meanwhile, the Australian Electoral Commission is investigating the claim that Laming operated more than 30 Facebook pages without disclosing his identity. It’s been reported these pages were operated under the guise of community groups and news pages and were used by Laming to promote political material and attack political opponents.
Last week, it was revealed that Laming previously awarded a $550,000 grant to a rugby club with connections to one of his staff members – without disclosing this connection – as part of the government’s controversial female sports facilities grants program, which was never open to public applications.
To date, the Morrison government has insisted Laming is a fit and proper person to continue to hold his seat in parliament until the next election, with the Prime Minister choosing not to remove him from the Liberal National party.
The Coalition currently holds a slim, one-seat majority in the House of Representatives, so desperately need Laming’s seat to retain control.
With reports indicating Laming has not withdrawn his preselection nomination, it’s clear he is choosing to defy Morrison.
According to The Australian, if Laming fails to pass the candidate vetting committee in his seat of Bowman, he may be eligible for a six months’ salary “resettlement allowance”. If he retires voluntarily, as he was told to do so by Morrison, he will not receive this payment.
The Laming saga is just the latest display of entitlement from men in the Coalition who stand accused of harassment or misconduct. It also comes just weeks after Morrison’s recent cabinet reshuffle, that confirmed Christian Porter and Linda Reynolds will remain as ministers.
Retaining the likes of Porter and Reynolds in the ministry and harbouring men like Laming on its back bench without consequence confirms that the government is willing to sink to shockingly low levels to retain power.