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AEC finds Andrew Laming’s Facebook posts breached electoral laws

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According to Dr Laming, the posts in question reached about 22 of his electors in the lead-up to the 2019 election. The page was shut down after the Redland Hospital, which is in Dr Laming’s electorate, received funding commitments for upgrades after the 2019 election.

One post read: “Labor in a lather, calling this a fake page. Apparently, none of us are real. Read the ‘About’ tab which makes it clear Andrew Laming was involved in establishing this page and maintaining it. So what! We just want our $39 million back.”

The Facebook page run by Liberal MP Andrew Laming has now been shut down.

The Brisbane-based MP came under criticism earlier this year for operating more than 30 Facebook pages and profiles under the guise of community groups.

Dr Laming said he had consistently acknowledged he had multiple community Facebook pages, including one for each suburb in his electorate so that he could “better tailor information relevant to those communities”.

New laws came into effect in 2018 that extended the requirement for politicians and parties to authorise their messages to modern communication channels including social media, bulk text messages and robo-calls.

Dr Laming said all the community pages he ran were created before the new laws came into effect.

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“My office was confident at the time that we were complying by avoiding federal electoral matter,” he said. “Where there was perceived doubt at the time, individual posts on this page were correctly authorised.

“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. Nothing is more important than the integrity of our political process, and I apologise for the lapse of process on this occasion.”

Dr Laming in October withdrew an apology to two women who alleged they were trolled by him online, saying the accusations against him were not genuine and his critics hadn’t made formal complaints to avoid scrutiny of their claims.

The AEC confirmed it had launched proceedings in the Federal Court against Dr Laming.

“The AEC alleges that Dr Laming published unauthorised electoral matter in the form of a Facebook page, ‘Redland Hospital: Let’s fight for fair funding’ and that this contravened the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 requirement that material promoting one candidate or political party over another comply with the authorisation requirements of the act,” the AEC said. “The AEC will not be making any further comment as this matter is now before the court.”

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According to Dr Laming, the posts in question reached about 22 of his electors in the lead-up to the 2019 election. The page was shut down after the Redland Hospital, which is in Dr Laming’s electorate, received funding commitments for upgrades after the 2019 election.

One post read: “Labor in a lather, calling this a fake page. Apparently, none of us are real. Read the ‘About’ tab which makes it clear Andrew Laming was involved in establishing this page and maintaining it. So what! We just want our $39 million back.”

The Facebook page run by Liberal MP Andrew Laming has now been shut down.

The Facebook page run by Liberal MP Andrew Laming has now been shut down.

The Brisbane-based MP came under criticism earlier this year for operating more than 30 Facebook pages and profiles under the guise of community groups.

Dr Laming said he had consistently acknowledged he had multiple community Facebook pages, including one for each suburb in his electorate so that he could “better tailor information relevant to those communities”.

New laws came into effect in 2018 that extended the requirement for politicians and parties to authorise their messages to modern communication channels including social media, bulk text messages and robo-calls.

Dr Laming said all the community pages he ran were created before the new laws came into effect.

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“My office was confident at the time that we were complying by avoiding federal electoral matter,” he said. “Where there was perceived doubt at the time, individual posts on this page were correctly authorised.

“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. Nothing is more important than the integrity of our political process, and I apologise for the lapse of process on this occasion.”

Dr Laming in October withdrew an apology to two women who alleged they were trolled by him online, saying the accusations against him were not genuine and his critics hadn’t made formal complaints to avoid scrutiny of their claims.

The AEC confirmed it had launched proceedings in the Federal Court against Dr Laming.

“The AEC alleges that Dr Laming published unauthorised electoral matter in the form of a Facebook page, ‘Redland Hospital: Let’s fight for fair funding’ and that this contravened the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 requirement that material promoting one candidate or political party over another comply with the authorisation requirements of the act,” the AEC said. “The AEC will not be making any further comment as this matter is now before the court.”

Fascinating answers to perplexing questions delivered to your inbox every week. Sign up to get our new Explainer newsletter here.

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