Andrew Laming apologies for breaching federal election laws in 2019 campaign

Controversial Liberal backbencher Andrew Laming will not be on the ballot for re-election in 2022. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong
Controversial Liberal backbencher Andrew Laming will not be on the ballot for re-election in 2022. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Bowman MP Andrew Laming faces Federal Court action over an alleged breach of Australian election campaigning laws.

The Liberal National Party MP has been accused of breaching election laws in failing to authorise Facebook posts in the lead up to the 2019 federal election.

In a statement, the Australian Electoral Commission said it had begun proceedings in the Federal Court against the Liberal National Party MP from Queensland.

"The AEC alleges that Dr Laming published unauthorised electoral matter in the form of a Facebook page, Redland Hospital: Lets fight for fair funding and that this contravened the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918requirement that material promoting one candidate or political party over another comply with the authorisation requirements of the Act."

In a statement, Dr Laming apologised for not including an authorisation on Facebook community pages he created.

"I respect the AEC decision and I will assist them to resolve the matter by conciliation," he said.

He acknowledged the multiple community Facebook pages, one for each suburb in his electorate, saying they contained exempted material and had an average reach of six people per post.

"These community pages were in full operation when requirements were tightened for social media authorisation. My office was confident at the time that we were complying by avoiding federal electoral matter."

Dr Laming indicated he will seek conciliation to resolve the case and there was "perceived doubt at the time" about requirements on social media authorisation.

"I do not dispute the AEC view that the page did in-effect promote me and was critical of another political party, and for those reasons, page authorisation should have occurred and for that I apologise," Dr Laming said.

Dr Laming is not seeking re-election in the 2022 ballot and in March this year promised stepped down from all parliamentary roles following public scandals involving behaviour towards constituents which whom he has been in dispute.

While he was on mental health leave in the wake of the scandal, it was revealed that the MP had created dozens of Facebook pages to promote the LNP and attack opponents.

One of the pages, Redland Hospital: Let's fight for fair funding, was set up prior to the 2019 federal election and does not include any party branding or authorisation. The page's "About" information explains that it was established to campaign against Labor.

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Dr Laming has previously denied using Facebook to troll those who had accused him of inappropriate behaviour.

"The work I have done on Facebook responding to the comments of others has been characterised as harassment," the Bowman MP said in May.

"To refer to me and misrepresent me as a taxpayer-funded troll for my online work - with all posts remaining online, visible and public - is a misrepresentation and reflection on my character."

This story Laming apologises for campaign law breach after facing court action first appeared on The Canberra Times.