Coalition torn on disgraced Andrew Laming

·3-min read

Scott Morrison is resisting growing pressure to sack disgraced backbencher Andrew Laming who has launched a new defence of his disturbing behaviour.

Dr Laming will not contest the election but will remain in the coalition party room after admitting to bullying, stalking and harassing several women.

The Queenslander is also under fire for taking a photo up a woman's skirt at her workplace, which is a criminal offence punishable by up to three years in prison.

Dr Laming claims the photo attempted to show someone trying to fit an impossible amount of stock into a fridge.

"The purpose of the photograph was to show sometimes at work you have these Herculean tasks put to you and she was playing a game of Tetris trying to get every possible can in the fridge," he told ABC radio.

"All I can do is apologise unreservedly because taking a photo of someone without asking first is a fundamental principle that an MP should be able to adhere to."

Despite being on taxpayer-funded medical leave to seek counselling and empathy training, the MP hit the airwaves to defend himself.

Dr Laming said he didn't know what he was apologising for in parliament last week when he fronted the chamber ahead of revelations he harassed female constituents online.

He insists he was asking tough questions in his role as an MP.

"If they don't answer those questions you'd expect those questions to be asked again and again," Dr Laming said.

"It's much easier sometimes to provide an answer to the question. That wasn't happening and now of course it's been reinvented into harassment."

The prime minister is staring down internal calls for Dr Laming to be booted out of the Liberal Party with the government clinging onto power by a threadbare majority.

Mr Morrison said the Queenslander had committed to undertaken a behavioural course.

"He needs to come back with a completely different attitude and completely different behaviour," the prime minister told reporters.

Minister for Women Marise Payne described Dr Laming's response as the minimum.

Liberal senator Sarah Henderson broke ranks to call for Dr Laming to be booted from the coalition, which would plunge the government into minority.

"It's a matter for him as to whether he wants to leave the Liberal Party. I am uncomfortable about him sitting in the party room," she told the Seven Network on Monday.

Social Services Minister Anne Ruston, who has added women's safety to her role, would not say whether she would be happy for the disgraced MP to return to the coalition.

"Let's see whether Dr Laming understands the impact of his actions because I think he needs to understand that before he returns to the party room," she told the ABC.

Shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers said the government's each-way response was not good enough.

"There is no role for Andrew Laming in the parliament with this history of abusing people and trolling people and bullying and belittling people and potentially criminal issues at play," he said.