Laws would affect Laming-style behaviour

·2-min read

The government's online safety laws are in place to stamp out behaviour similar to embattled Liberal backbencher Andrew Laming's online actions, Labor has confirmed.

The Morrison government's online safety plan has passed the first hurdle of parliament and is being considered by the Senate.

The bill includes a scheme to prevent adult cyber abuse by providing a complaints process, which could result in the eSafety Commissioner requesting offending material be taken offline.

Labor's Nita Green has used a Senate estimates hearing to see if the scheme would apply to Bowman MP Dr Laming.

He has harassed two prominent women from his federal electorate over several years.

The 54-year-old is back in parliament after having a month of paid medical leave to seek counselling and empathy training.

"Is this menacing, harassing online behaviour ... the type of material that Andrew Laming posted. Is that the sort of thing that the adult cyber abuse scheme is designed to stamp out," Senator Green asked communications department officials on Wednesday.

Department deputy secretary Richard Windeyer said the scheme would provide a pathway for people to make complaints about online behaviour.

"It's very hard to make a comment definitively around an individual case without having access to all the facts and elements of it," he said.

"It is fair to say that absolutely the intention behind this new bill when it's passed is to provide an avenue for people experiencing that kind of activity to have a pathway to make complaints and have someone able to take some action."

Senators were also told the majority of image-based abuse and cyberbullying complaints were made by women.

Once the bill is passed, 20 investigators will be hired to look at reports of online abuse.

Labor has also used this week of parliament to try to condemn Dr Laming for still being on a committee after flagging he would resign because of his behaviour.

Being on the committee adds $23,000 to his annual salary.

Dr Laming has said he will not contest the next federal election.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison faces pressure to expel the backbencher from the coalition party room, but has resisted because it would strip his government of its lower house majority.