Is the reason Morrison won’t act on Andrew Laming that he would lose his Parliamentary majority?

THE AGE: A move by Dr Laming to the crossbench would send the Coalition into minority government as it holds just 75 seats in the 151-member lower house. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Minister for Women Marise Payne have resisted pressure to remove Dr Laming from their party, saying he had already taken a significant step by abandoning his federal political career.

“He was elected to serve here for three years, in this parliamentary term, and that’s what he intends to do,” Mr Morrison said. “He is here to serve the people in his electorate and I am following the very same approach that other governments have followed in the past.”

The point that Morrison and Payne miss completely is that he was not elected to behave the way that he is alleged to have behaved.

It would be interesting to see if Dr Laming still has the confidence of the electors of Bowman. 

He has his critics in the Liberal Party

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told Nine’s Today that Dr Laming’s behaviour had fallen below community standards and the public expectation of politicians.

“I don’t think his behaviour is acceptable at all. In fact, I think it’s demeaning to women.” But Frydenberg stopped short of saying that Laming should be moved to the cross bench.

Victorian senator Sarah Henderson on Monday said he should remove himself from the Coalition party room because she would not feel comfortable with him returning.

Liberal MP Katie Allen said that Dr Laming had been in parliament for 17 years and it was the right time “to reconsider his future.”

Laming should have the decency to resign from Parliament. Unfortunately there is no mechanism to remove before the next election.

Morrison could force Laming to sit on the cross bench

THE AGE reports: Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has called for disgraced Queensland MP Andrew Laming to be kicked out of the Liberal party room immediately.

Mr Turnbull praised NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and deputy premier John Barilaro for forcing a state Nationals MP onto the crossbench after allegations he raped a sex worker, which the man has denied, and sent lewd messages from Parliament.

Clearly, Turnbull thinks that Morrison should follow Berejiklian’s example.

The electorate should not hold its breath 

Liberal MP Teena McQueen’s comments on sexual harassment have not helped Scott Morrison

Sometimes things are so bad it’s difficult to begin explaining why. Liberal Party federal vice-president Teena McQueen’s comment, “I would kill to be sexually harassed at the moment,”  is one of them.

Liberal MP and Liberal Party Federal Vice President Teena McQueen

The list of reasons why this is so wrong is a long one

  1. It is an invitation for men to sexually assault older woman.
  2. McQueen trivialised sexual assault in a further commented that “when women reach my age, we don’t have to worry about being sexually assaulted”. There are two possible interpretations of this comment. The first less uncharitable one is that older women don’t have to worry after being sexually assaulted. The second is that they don’t have to worry before being sexually assaulted.
  3. It demonstrates a lack of understanding nature of sexual assault which is traumatic, degrading, frightening, violent and uninvited.
  4. The comment comes from a very senior Liberal Party MP who is also a Federal Liberal Party Vice-President: someone whose views would reflect Liberal party policy.
  5. It comes from a woman, at a time when most women are outraged at the behaviour of male members of the Federal Liberal party.
  6. It was an attempt at “humour about herself”. There are some topics that Federal Liberal Party Vice-Presidents should not joke about for the simple reason they are no joking matter. Sexual harassment is one, domestic violence is another.*
  7. It runs completely contrary to the spin that PM Scott Morrison has been endeavouring to put on a series of scandals that have rocked his government.
  8. It has an uenfortunate echo of Deputy PM Alexander Downer’s unfunny quip that the party’s domestic violence policy would accordingly be named “The Things That Batter”.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the issue was a matter for the party.

There’s a thing about jokes that many people don’t understand. Jokes are a two-way process. Someone has to laugh and it’s not the person telling a joke.

Two strikes and you are out. Andrew Laming should resign from Parliament

The AGE REPORTS: Queensland MP Andrew Laming will step aside from all parliamentary roles after a Brisbane woman accused the Liberal National Party MP of taking a mobile phone photo of her bottom while her underwear was visible in 2019.

Mr Laming said he was stepping aside to “complete both the counselling courses I committed to as well as additional clinical counselling, 

Liberal Member for Bowman Andrew Laming during Question Time in the House of Representatives at Parliament House. Source: AAP

Mr Laming is the third Liberal MP to stand aside in the past six weeks over issues related to alleged sexual misconduct, as the Morrison government has seen its political agenda thrown in disarray by a range of serious allegations.

The Prime Minister stopped short of endorsing Mr Laming as fit to continue to serve in federal Parliament. “I am not a member of the LNP Queensland Division.”

When will the Prime Minister take a stand? How bad does it have to get?

Scott Morrison’s government is being challenged on many fronts in relation to the treatment of women and workplace culture.CREDIT:ALEX ELLINGHAUSEN

Laming would appear to personify all problems that have swirled around Scott Morrison’s government over the last five weeks.

The Andrew Laming affair is indicative of a more deep rooted problem.

The problem with people like Andrew Laming, who now on leave while he gets counselling, is that, short of him being convicted of a criminal offence, there is no way of getting them out of Parliament until the next election.

The same applies to Craig Kelly who undermined the government’s vaccination program. Wishing to be able to speak his mind, he has resigned as a member a of the Parliamentary Liberal party and now sits on the cross bench.

Kelly also has Frank Zumbo in his office.

You can read the 730 report on Frank Zumbo which details a series harassment allegations made several young women against Frank Zumbo.

Worser and worser: Another Liberal party MP behaving badly.

Another day and another revelation of harassment of women on the part of a member of Scott Morrison’s government.

The AGE reports: Nine News Queensland reporter Peter Fegan made a news report which featured the two women Federal MP Andrew Laming had been trolling and their emotional pleas for the MP to stop his online abuse.

Liberal MP Andrew Laming in Parliament House.CREDIT:ALEX ELLINGHAUSEN

Mr Morrison demanded Laming stop using social media to post trolling comments and apologise to the pair both personally and publicly.

Alix Russo told Nine News that she was suicidal as a result of Mr Laming’s false accusations that she had misappropriated money.

“Unfortunately for you, I make the rules and you follow them,” Laming wrote on Facebook to the single mother.

Ms Russo, a charity worker, told Nine News: “I want to be alive, I don’t want to be attacked anymore.”

Sheena Hewlett, a teacher and wife of a local councillor, said Mr Laming requested her teaching timetable from her school and in 2019 hid in bushes as well as took photos of her in a public park.

Laming’s apology Included his saying

“Today in this House I want to retract my comments and issue a public unreserved apology. There are many lessons for … me in this experience, not just about words but about the impact words can have on others.”

Does this incident sum up Morrison’s attitude to the harassment of women?

A public apology and it is all done and dusted. No further consequences?

What about demanding Laming resign from Parliament?

Followed by a statement from the Prime Minister saying, “There is no place in the Australian Parliament for someone responsible for this kind of behaviour.”

The political Augen stables need to be cleaned out

Augeas, the mythical king of Elis, kept great stables that held 3,000 oxen and had not been cleaned for thirty years. Heracles succeeded by rerouting the rivers Alpheus and Peneus to wash out the filth.

It will take a similar effort to clean up the Parliament Houses.

These are just today’s headlines items.

The AGE reports: Peta Credlin saying

  1. That another staffer had held orgies inside Parliament, including during question time when their boss was in the chamber.
  2. Former minister who it is alleged had his male prostitutes delivered to Parliament House
  3. Another staffer held gay orgies inside Parliament

And in NSW

Accusations that a NSW government MP ( Nationals MP Michael Johnsen. ) of sexually assaulting a sex worker in the Blue Mountains 18 months ago.

From the ABC’s Laura Tingle

Multiple women who worked in Craig Kelly’s electorate office have alleged they were sexually harassed or bullied by Frank Zumbo. Craig Kelly says he stands by his advisor.

Perhaps Peta Credlin could be suspected of confected outrage.

She has been a political insider for years.

She was Tony Abbott’s Chief of Staff when he was Prime Minister and earlier when he leader of the opposition.

She is married to Brian Loughnane who served as Federal Director of the Liberal party.

Obviously, she saw none of this kind of stuff going on during that period otherwise she might have spoken out as bravely as she is now.

Credlin with Brian Loughnane
Picture: Gary Ramage

Is Morrison’s attack on News Corp Australia a sign that he is losing control of his political narrative?

When you are concerned about your public image as Scott Morrison, you need to control what is called The Narrative. Carl Rove was a master of the art. 

This art involves controlling political discussion on critical issues. It involves anticipating and framing the terms of any given political issue. 

The Liberal party did this with devastating effect when it defined the issue of franking credits in terms of attacks on everyone’s superannuation. It wasn’t necessarily true, but this discussion’s pre-emptive framing gave the Labor Party very little wriggle room.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has not been able to do this in relation to the current crisis engulfing his government.

Source; The Australian

Floundering in the wake of deepening crisis surrounding his handling of allegations against Attorney General Christine Porter and continued allegations of sexual misconduct in Parliament House, Scott Morrison begins clutching at straws.

The Guardian reports: The prime minister, Scott Morrison, responded to a question about the government’s handling of sexual misconduct at Parliament House by claiming that there was a current investigation at News Corp regarding a female staff member harassed in a toilet.

This drew a sharp rebuke from News Corp executive chairman Michael Miller who declared Mr Morrison’s statement to be “simply untrue”.

The Australian reports: It was a messy and grumpy performance as once again Morrison displayed a personal side when he cited the influence of his wife and daughters, as well as his widowed mother,

Morrison was forced into a humiliating backdown.

The AGE reports, “I deeply regret my insensitive response to a question from a News Ltd journalist by making an anonymous reference to an incident at News Ltd that has been rejected by the company,” he said.

“I accept their account. I was wrong to raise it, the emotion of the moment is no excuse.

“I especially wish to apologise to the individual at the centre of the incident and others directly impacted. I had no right to raise this issue and especially without their permission,” the Prime Minister said.

It was an act of monumental political ineptitude comparable to his Hawaiian holiday and his interactions with NSW firefighters: “I don’t hold a hose.”

Nothing he has done in the current crisis has improved his political standing.

Now that the pictures of him joining frontline workers and the elderly to receive his Pfizer vaccine gap have passed out of the news cycle, Morrison has been overtaken by a storm of allegations involving sexual misconduct by members of his cabinet and government.

SMH reports Greens senator Lidia Thorpe has alleged MPs from the government have sexually harassed her.

Thorpe has effectively taken control of the narrative by defining part of the discussion around women’s safety by alleging personal sexual harassment by members of Morrison’s government.

All Morrison can do now is respond. But Thorpe effectively limited what his responses can be.

He can 1) Say these are simply allegations. This runs the risk of not listening to the victim. Or 2) Have an independent investigation in the hope that will prove the allegations untrue. The risk here is it may be true. Then he will be forced to act.

Angela Merkel will wait her turn to be vaccinated.

Some people think Scott Morrison jumped the queue when he was amongst the first Australians to be inoculated against Covid. He also got the Pfizer vaccine which is 95% effective, not the AstaZeneca which is 63% effective.

Voice of America reports Chancellor Angela Merkel “Yes I would take the AstraZeneca vaccine,” Merkel told a news conference, adding she “would like to wait until it’s my turn but I would in any case”.

It is a question of leadership style. Morrison would argue that as Prime Minister, he is demonstrating confidence in the vaccination program. But Merkel could make exactly the same argument and she’s made it for the less effective AstraZeneca.

And she is not jumping the queue.

Not content with normal media coverage, Morrison put 12 posts of the first Australians being vaccinated on Facebook. He was in 10 of them.

Why was Scott Morrison amongst the first Australians to be vaccinated against Covid?

Wouldn’t have been great if he had said, “I will wait for my turn to be inoculated. Just like every other Australian will have to.”

He wasn’t in Group 1a for the roll and probably won’t be in Group 1b either.

Of course, his answer was he doing this to “give further confidence to Australians these vaccines are safe and effective”.

Then, in true “Scotty from marketing” fashion, he was immediately on Facebook broadcasting his vaccination.

Do we have the right to be just a trifle cynical about yet another photo opportunity.

This is all the more galling because the rollout of the vaccine has been dogged by the incompetence we have come to expect from this government. Incorrect information on the website swamped medical clinics who couldn’t have taken bookings anyhow because they don’t have any vaccine.

Apparently, only 15% of medical clinics are signed up to inoculate the population.

CSL and AstraZeneca appear to be having production problems and the target of a million doses per week looks almost unachievable.

Yet we have a picture of the Prime Minister giving everybody a thumbs up.

Is the AstraZeneca vaccine rollout in Australia compromised by poor quality control?

A recent TV news item said AstraZeneca was individually hand checking each dose of its Australian vaccine.

Almost every news item about the vaccine is accompanied by a visual of the vaccine coming off a production line at bewildering speeds and in huge numbers.

Reassuring image of vaccine production

CSL’s Chief Scientific Officer Andrew Nash said “The filling production line was turned on more than two weeks ago and is now running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week “

They are going to need that if they are checking every dose before it goes out.

Federal Health Department secretary Brendan Murphy predicted, “A million doses-plus a week.” 

It will be difficult to produce high-quality vaccine particularly if each dose is checked as it rolls off the production line.

As an extreme example let’s work through some numbers:

So let’s assume that they have 60 people working 3 * 8-hour shifts per day. That’s 20 people per shift doing individual quality checks.

Then let’s assume that each individual quality checker can do one every 30 seconds. That is going to depend on the extent of the quality check. If it’s just checking that the lid is on properly then that’s probably 15 seconds. But, if it involves checking the quality of the vaccine itself inside a bottle, it could be much longer.

That means an individual can do two a minute and 120 hour assuming no interruptions, no fatigue, and no rechecking. In eight hours that will be just under 960 per person. In 3 * 8-hour shifts, that will be 2880 per person.

With 20 people working round-the-clock that is 58,000 per day or around 400,000 per week.

That’s well short of the million doses Murphy is predicting.

It’s difficult to find out from the official websites are many Australians need to be vaccinated. But this assume it’s roughly half the population or 10 million people.

If AstraZeneca and CSL cannot solve their quality problems, it will be 156 weeks until there is enough locally produced available.

That’s three years. Presumably they will get on top of the problem before that.

The figures I have used are purely speculative but designed to show that individual testing of each item on the production line will produce a massive bottleneck. That is exactly what we don’t need in the production of a Covid virus vaccine.