Queensland Liberal MP Andrew Laming has laughed off his grovelling apology to two women he abused on Facebook admitting he “didn’t even know” what he was apologising for when he got up in Parliament.
Pressure is now mounting on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to dump the MP from preselection at the next election amid claims the abuse has continued for years.
Mr Laming apologised “unreservedly” in a speech to Parliament on Thursday, hours before the shocking allegations surfaced over his online abuse of constituents.
“I want to express my regret and deep apologies for the hurt and the distress that communication may have caused,” he said.
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But the under-fire MP for Bowman has now claimed that he didn’t even know what he was apologising for, in a Facebook exchange accompanied by a string of laughing face emojis.
“I’m actually surprised by the response — not as good as skulling (beer) though,” he wrote.
Mr Laming also suggested his forced apology — demanded by the Prime Minister — was only necessary because of the current outrage over the treatment of women.
“In this climate — I willingly apologise — I didn’t even know what for at 4pm when I did it,’’ he said.
Mr Laming told news.com.au that the emojis were an accident and that he had explained this on Facebook suggesting the emojis were a mystery “pocket” post to social media by his mobile phone.
Radio broadcaster Ray Hadley said he had asked Queensland Liberals what the deal was with the rogue MP and received a blunt response.
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“I’ve checked with a couple of Liberal National party people I am familiar with in Queensland and said, “Is this bloke a complete f***wit?’’ Hadley said.
“And they replied yes, he is. He is,’’ he said.
The story of Mr Laming’s shocking online abuse was broken by Channel Nine’s Peter Fegan who revealed on Friday night that the women at the centre of the drama believed the latest Facebook posts were evidence he didn’t take the matter seriously.
One of the women, Sheena Hewlett said that Mr Laming “clearly isn’t sorry.”
Single mother Alix Russo yesterday told Nine News that she had been subjected to false claims and social media abuse by Mr Laming, including claims that she misappropriated funds from a not-for-profit charity.
In one Facebook post, Mr Laming questioned whether money was going on Ms Russo’s personal credit card for a Queensland charity that prepares hampers for the homeless.
“Reasonable question, what proportion of Night Ninjas donations go on Alix’s personal credit card and is her personal use separated?” Mr Laming’s Facebook comment states.
In another, Mr Laming said: “You got nasty. Threatened self-harm. Unfortunately for you, I make the rules and you follow them.”
In tears, Ms Russo told Nine News that all of Night Ninjas financial records were available on the regulators website and the claims were baseless. But she said the allegations left her “suicidal.”
“I don’t want to be attacked anymore,” Ms Russo said.
“To be tarnished and discredited and defamed. To our Prime Minister: this man needs to stop. He cannot continue to target his community like this.”
Mr Morrison on Friday described the MP’s behaviour as “disgraceful” but said he had dealt with the matter.
“I found that disgraceful. I called him into my office yesterday and told him to apologise and deal with it, and he has,” the Prime Minister said.
“He’s very clear about my expectations.”
Labor leader Anthony Albanese said on Friday that Mr Laming was not fit to remain in Parliament.
“Once again Scott Morrison has got out the feather against a Liberal MP,” he told reporters on Friday.
“Quite frankly, the Prime Minister’s response is totally inadequate, as it always is. He waits, and waits and waits and then says, ‘That’s a real concern, I’ll look into it, and we’ll get Andrew Laming to stand up and say he’s sorry’.”