Liberal MP Andrew Laming withdraws apology for online treatment of two Brisbane women

Unrepentant federal MP tells parliament it is now ‘obvious’ that bullying allegations in March were ‘fabricated’

Unrepentant Liberal MP Andrew Laming has withdrawn his apology to two Brisbane women over online comments that he previously acknowledged caused “significant distress”.On Thursday, Laming told parliament the apology was intended only for those “genuinely upset” by his communication and he had now concluded none of his critics were “genuine”.

He was ordered by Scott Morrison into empathy training in March before returning from personal leave, blaming a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder for his behaviour.

Laming apologised in the House of Representatives on 25 March ahead of a Nine News story featuring two women who alleged the MP had made false allegations and abusive comments about them online.

Laming has since commenced defamation proceedings against Nine over the story.

In the apology, Laming described the women as “highly regarded individuals” and acknowledged their “significant distress”.

“I express my regret and deep apologies for the hurt and distress that that communication may have caused,” he said.

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But on Thursday, Laming told the House of Representatives it was “now obvious the accusations against me were fabricated”.

“My apology at the time was to anyone genuinely upset by my electoral communication,” Laming said. “But none of those [allegations] televised in March were genuine.

“Serious accusations deserve to be the subject of a formal complaint. And apart from one thrown out minutes after I provided a written statement, no complaint has ever materialised despite my public and repeated requests.

“The caper is pretty clear: run to the media but assiduously avoid laying any form of complaint lest it be exposed as baseless.”

Laming said that complainants had “formal channels available”, warning that “deliberately avoiding that for trial by media … should never be rewarded”.

He also complained that Labor had attempted to suspend standing orders on “no less than 25 occasions” to sanction him, which he labelled “disappointing political opportunism”.

Laming also took aim at the ABC for “stooping to trawling my electorate for mildly annoyed critics in order to join the pile-on”.

In March Laming committed to “step down from all parliamentary roles effective immediately” but has since claimed he never promised to permanently resign from his role as the chair of the standing committee on employment, education and training.

In April the Liberal National Party blocked Laming from recontesting his Brisbane seat of Bowman for the party.

In May, Morrison said that Laming had “formed a view since [March] that the issues that were the subject of complaints made against him have now altered and there have been new facts that have come forward”.

Morrison praised the “many good things” Laming had done as a member of the government, adding that he “[expects] him to keep working hard for his electorate all the way to the next election”.

Contributor

Paul Karp

The GuardianTramp

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