The Liberal National party in Queensland has blocked Andrew Laming from recontesting his seat at the next federal election after he backflipped on his decision to quit parliament.
Laming faced the state executive on Monday night after he met with the party’s applicant review committee earlier in the day. The ARC decided not to endorse him for preselection and the state executive accepted that recommendation.
The party has also agreed to reopen nominations for the safe Liberal seat paving the way for a contest between barrister Maggie Forrest, LNP small business committee chair Fran Ward and former state candidate Henry Pike.
A statement from the LNP said the state executive had “accepted the ARC’s recommendation that Dr Laming not proceed as a candidate”.
Following a series of reports about Laming’s poor behaviour towards women, including an incident where he allegedly photographed a woman while she was bending over, the Queensland MP had announced last month that he would “own those mistakes” and quit parliament. Queensland police subsequently said there was no evidence to indicate an offence had been committed in relation to the photograph.
While on leave for empathy and clinical counselling, Laming changed his mind about retiring, and appeared on Monday before the party’s vetting committee to push ahead with his nomination.
Laming’s failed bid for preselection came after the prime minister, Scott Morrison, welcomed his initial decision not to contest the next election and other frontbenchers labelled his behaviour “abhorrent” and “unacceptable”.
The government has insisted Laming remains a “fit and proper” person to remain in the party and on the government benches where the Coalition holds a one-seat majority.
The Australian Electoral Commission has a live investigation into Laming for operating more than 30 Facebook pages that were set up under the guise of community and news groups but which did not include any disclosure of their political affiliation.
Appearing before a Senate committee on Monday, Facebook said that it did not disclose the identity of any person who ran pages, releasing information only about when and where the page was created.
“Certainly any person can administer a large number of pages if they wish to, but all of those pages have to comply with our policies,” Mia Garlick, Facebook’s director of policy for Australia and New Zealand, said.
“I don’t think we would necessarily look into whether a particular person’s profession is relevant to how they are administering a page.”
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young questioned why Facebook transparency measures had not “been able to capture the misuse of Facebook”.
“You know that Andrew Laming is a member of parliament, that he is a politician. You would know, Facebook has all of the data and is aware of how many other pages he has established, you have all of that information don’t you?” Hanson-Young said.
“Do you think that the public has a right to know?”
Garlick said that while Facebook had the information it was “not something that we look at”.
“In terms of transparency around page administrators, that hasn’t been something that people have typically been requesting from us or that there has been public debate about,” Garlick said.
“To date that transparency around page administration has been around the date it was created, any page name changes, and where it is being administered from, and in response to political issues it has been that strong focus on political advertising.”
The policy director said these areas had been of “most concern” but Facebook was prepared to consider further disclosures.
“If that is something the Australian parliament wants to make a recommendation on we are happy to work with government to make sure we are responding to what the community expectations are around further transparency measures.”
Garlick said Facebook was fully cooperating with the investigation underway by the Australian Electoral Commission. Laming was contacted for comment.