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Laming stirs controversy as Redland City contest heats up

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Andrew Laming is running for the role of mayor of Redland City (Screenshot via YouTube)

Redland City Council is making news with mayoral candidate Andrew Laming stirring controversy as the Queensland local council elections approach. Liz Johnston reports.

FORMER FEDERAL MP Andrew Laming's attempted comeback is again causing controversy.

In 2021, the Liberal National Party of Queensland (Queensland LNP) blocked Laming from recontesting the seat of Bowman after he apologised for comments he made about two women online.

Then late last year (2023) he was overlooked by the Queensland LNP for pre-selection to a state seat, defeated by Right-wing darling Amanda Stoker.

Now he is standing as an Independent for mayor of Redland City Council in southeast Queensland. But the run-up to the 16 March Election hasn’t gone smoothly for Laming, who as a Federal MP was ordered by former Prime Minister Scott Morrison to undertake an empathy course over his attitude to women.

But empathy only goes so far when you are having a last chance at representative government, having lost out at federal and state levels. One of Laming’s two female opponents, Jos Mitchell, has accused him of posting lies about her on his Facebook page and harassing her.

The Electoral Commission of Queensland has been called on twice so far to investigate complaints about behaviour by mayoral candidates in Redlands. Mitchell has complained Laming has shoved his camera into her face and posted pics of her with her hand up warding him off.

(Screenshot via Instagram)

On another day, police were called to remove Laming from a meeting held by Mitchell to which he had been invited but failed to RSVP until three hours before the event. Instead, he boasted, as reported by The Guardian, ‘I fooled the door people’ by sneaking in the back door to take part. Mitchell, an Independent, has also asked Laming to stop claiming on his Facebook page that she is backed by the “Teal Party” and the Greens and Labor.

Then on Saturday 9 March, Des Houghton’s column in the Brisbane Courier Mail published detailed plans outlined by Laming for a hotel development to be attached to the Point Lookout Surf Club on North Stradbroke Island, which is in Redland City boundaries. According to Houghton, Laming told him that two developers were interested in the project and one of them was Jude Turner, who owns boutique resorts in Queensland. (Houghton seemed to need to explain that Turner is also the wife of Flight Centre boss, Graham “Skroo” Turner.)

(Photo by Liz Johnston)

The Point Lookout Surf Club, subject of the alleged development reported by Houghton, quoting Laming, was quick to rush a statement to its Facebook page refuting the entire Houghton column as ‘hearsay’ and saying there were no plans to redevelop with a hotel.

Houghton didn’t mention if Jude Turner had confirmed or denied his reporting.

As if all that local outrage wasn’t enough, in the last weeks of the campaign, Laming has been before court on two occasions. One hearing was for travel claims challenged by the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority (IPEA) and the other, a bid by the Australian Electoral Commission to have the court increase fines imposed in 2022, for posting political material to Facebook pages that carried no political authorisation.

On the expenses issue, Laming’s defence for not being able to supply further information as requested was that he had lost all the sent emails from his parliamentary email account covering the months during and on either side of the disputed travel.

It makes you worry about parliamentary security.

Liz Johnston was a journalist with national newspapers and magazines for many years. She lives at Point Lookout on North Stradbroke Island.

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Laming stirs controversy as Redland City contest heats up

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