Victorian Senator Sarah Henderson has called for her Queensland colleague Andrew Laming to be removed from the party room when he returns to work.
A former journalist and TV host, Senator Henderson said today she was uncomfortable with him returning to the party room.
Mr Laming is preparing to enter an intensive “rehab” style residential course to address his behaviour after he was accused of trolling women online and taking a photo of a woman bending over at work to restack a fridge – without her consent.
“We’re not going to cop this bad behaviour,’’ Senator Henderson told news.com.au. “I am quite appalled and uncomfortable. This behaviour is disgusting.”
On Sunday, Senator Henderson told the ABC’s Insiders she was uncomfortable with him being in the party room just hours before he announced he would not contest the election.
“I stand by my comments in relation to the party room,’’ Senator Henderson said today.
“Ultimately that is a matter for him.”
While he is believed to have briefly considered moving to the crossbench if asked by the PM, at this stage Mr Laming will remain in the Coalition party room and not sit on the crossbench as an independent.
Mr Laming is now on medical leave, just like Defence Minister Linda Reynolds who called an alleged rape victim “a lying cow” and Attorney-General Christian Porter who went on mental health leave weeks ago as he prepares to fight an expensive defamation battle against the ABC.
Meanwhile, Liberal Senator Amanda Stoker, who once accused the Queensland Premier of having “her knee on the throat” of the economy is being courted to replace the soon to be ex-Liberal MP Andrew Laming.
It’s turning out to be a big week for the Queensland Liberal Senator, who is regarded as a rising star in conservative ranks and is also being tipped for a big promotion in the frontbench reshuffle.
Senator Stoker has now also emerged as a shock contender in the race for Bowman.
Liberal Party sources in Queensland told news.com.au that Senator Stoker, currently the Assistant Minister to the Attorney-General, is “actively being pursued by the membership to nominate for Bowman.”
According to the Australian the leading candidate is another woman Fran Ward, a 50-year-old businesswoman, mother of three and chair of the LNP’s small business policy committee, as Dr Laming’s replacement.
If Senator Stoker decides to make the switch to the House of Representatives, it would also avoid a messy preselection battle.
Senator Stoker and Liberal Senator James McGrath will otherwise need to fight it out for a winnable spot – a battle many believe she will lose.
Mr Laming, who will not contest the next election, is planning on spending the next 30 days at a ‘rehab’ style retreat to deal with his behavioural issues.
He will pay off the treatment himself but claim around $20,000 a month from taxpayers in salary while he takes extended leave.
The Prime Minister will announce the cabinet reshuffle on Monday, which is expected to deliver Peter Dutton into the Defence portfolio after endless years of speculation.