Scott Morrison – Wong challenges PM to get rid of Laming
Labor’s Penny Wong has challenged Prime Minister Scott Morrison to boot MP Andrew Laming from parliament or face losing any credibility he has on the issue of women’s safety.
The leader of the opposition in the Senate attended a women’s justice rally against Dr Laming in his electorate of Bowman in Brisbane on Saturday, before his return to parliament next week.
It follows a month of medical leave Dr Laming took after multiple women alleged he had harassed them.
Senator Wong told reporters Dr Laming had a history of persistent harassment of women and was shocked the Liberal National Party had condoned his behaviour for so long.
“I was really shocked at how scared some are, I was shocked at the extent of the online harassment,” she said.
“I’d say this to Scott Morrison: you have a responsibility to women everywhere and you have a responsibility to those women who are fearful of Mr Laming’s behaviour.
“If you let Mr Laming back in parliament and accept his vote as a member of your government, you will be demonstrated to be a hypocrite. You will show your weakness, you will show that when you stood up and told the women of Australia that you got it, that you cared about them, you will show that was not true.
“If you continue to accept the vote of a man who behaves as Mr Laming has, your words are hollow.”
Women and men attended the morning rally, many holding placards with messages such as “Time to go Lammo”.
Asked about the rally against her colleague on Saturday afternoon, Liberal senator Jane Hume said Dr Laming had shown remorse for his behaviour, done empathy training, and decided not to run again for his seat at the next election.
“I think he’s made the right decision there, and I’m very pleased to say that Andrew has undertaken that training and has acknowledged that his behaviours were inappropriate.”
Before Dr Laming took medical leave, Mr Morrison forced the Brisbane MP to apologise to two women and had him undertake a short online empathy course.
Dr Laming’s vote gives the coalition government a one-seat majority in the lower house, but Defence Minister Peter Dutton has said that’s irrelevant and his colleague would be criticised no matter what he did.
Dr Laming last week revealed he had been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and attributed it to some of his behaviour towards women.
Two female constituents have accused him of abusing them online. One said the abuse left her suicidal.
The backbencher has also been accused of taking a photograph of a woman without her consent as she bent over with her underwear visible.
Police investigated the matter but no action was taken. Dr Laming denied any inappropriate behaviour.
Last week, another three women made fresh allegations about the MP’s “creepy” behaviour making them feel uncomfortable. However, Dr Laming has “comprehensively rejected” those allegations.
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