MP’s exit plunges Morrison Government into crisis
The Federal Government is in crisis, after it announced controversial Redlands MP Andrew Laming would not contest the election, but will not eject him from the party despite admitting allegations he "upskirted" a woman were unacceptable.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called for a "strong female candidate" to replace him, though preselection for his Bowman electorate has officially closed.
It comes ahead of an expected Cabinet reshuffle today, in which Attorney-General Christian Porter and Defence Minister Linda Reynolds are likely to be sidelined following their own controversies.
Dr Laming, Senator Reynolds and Mr Porter are now all on medical leave.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese is calling for Dr Laming to resign immediately, saying he brings "disrepute and disgrace" to the parliament.
If Dr Laming resigned from Parliament before the election the Government would be in minority, after New South Wales MP Craig Kelly quit the party to sit on the cross bench after defying orders to stop spreading misinformation around COVID-19 vaccines and treatment.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced Dr Laming would not recontest the election shortly after two Liberal politicians, Katie Allen and Senator Sarah Henderson, said he should go.
Mr Morrison had been forced to have two discussions with Dr Laming within three days over allegations he trolled two women online, for which he apologised in Parliament last week, and again following claims he took a photograph of a woman bending over to reach into a fridge.
Dr Laming has said he took the photo, but that it was not inappropriate and malicious.
He has taken medical leave while he seeks counselling and clinical support for empathy training after the incidents.
While Mr Morrison is making it known he wants a female candidate for the seat, it is complicated by the LNP's nominations for the seat already having closed.
There was one candidate, businesswoman Fran Ward, who nominated besides Dr Laming.
There are now questions in the party on whether it reopens nominations.
Despite not being part of the LNP, Mr Morrison is able to send a nominee or proxy to take part in the preselection in his stead.
An LNP spokesman said Dr Laming's actions did not meet the "standards required of LNP Members", but that he "intends to serve out this term of parliament".
"He has given an undertaking to meet the standards expected of elected representatives," he said.
In a statement Dr Laming said he would undertake the empathy training at his own expense "not just to be a better MP, but to be a deeper and more empathetic person than recent events have demonstrated".
"I hope some privacy can be extended to me and my family at this time, and I ask my local community to be kind to them," Dr Laming said.
Originally published as MP's exit plunges Morrison Government into crisis