‘I like Steven, but...’: MP’s response to broadside
Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles has blasted LNP federal Member for Bowman Andrew Laming over "grubby" and "racist" comments made on the member's ministerial social media page.
The lashing comes after Mr. Laming posted a link to a news article on Thursday about Cricket Australia's decision to drop references to Australia Day, saying it would "help petrol sniffing and school attendance in remote Australia".
The controversial post quickly garnered attention from both sides of the Australia Day discussion, with the former shadow parliamentary secretary for regional health services and Indigenous health being called "blatantly racist" and a "parasite" by commenters.
"Imagine thinking this kind of approach is beneficial to help addiction and school attendance rates. This is hate speech, champ" one person commented.
"Is this a real post…" another asked.
Mr. Laming's comments were today slammed by Mr Miles, who said he had "gone lower than I thought he could", and called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to "to be a leader and pull him into line".
"My expectations of Andrew Laming are pretty low, and he has indeed exceeded them," Mr Miles added.
"His racist comments are grubby and disgusting and below the standards we should expect of an elected official in our country.
"I think it would also be appropriate for the Prime Minister to pull Andrew Laming into line."
The controversial post and Mr Laming's official ministerial Facebook page was unavailable for some time this morning but has since been reinstated.
During this time Mr Laming defended his comments on his personal account and called for people not to be labelled "racist".
"Plenty of emotion over Australia Day. What is your way forward? And can we debate it without calling each other racists?" Mr Laming said in the post.
"Australians are free to commemorate important days however they wish.
"Perhaps it is time to put the shoe on the other foot and have a crack at being tolerant.
"If you find this 'offensive' then it probably says more about you, than me."
Mr Laming told The Sunday Mail the post was meant to "ensure we'd remain focused on practical measures, and not becoming too obsessed with the symbolism".
"I think all of us are mature enough to remember there is good and bad - the bad doesn't go away by picking another day," Mr Laming said.
"I think Australians actually get my comments and the support has been overwhelming - but I just obviously irritated a very small group of people for whom the debate around the day is very important to them.
"I don't want to get too caught up in the symbolism, and remember that on a national day that we're looking forwards as much as backward, and fix what needs to be fixed."
Regarding Mr Miles's broadside, Mr Laming said he did not comment on personal attacks, but instead put a question to the Deputy Premier.
"I like Steven Miles; it's just a shame he can't engage in the debate, which is a serious one," Mr Laming said.
"He, like me, is ultimately paid to close the gap.
"And the question I pose back to Steven is how has he helped close the gap in the period he's been a politician?"
Originally published as 'I like Steven, but...': MP's response to broadside