Fence victims 'a bit horrified'
Residents whose fence was torn apart in a clash between rival groups in Woodridge say their suburb is "friendly", as police keep "the hotheads away from each other".PT1M52S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2cr1a 620 349 January 15, 2013
The federal government has condemned Opposition spokesman for indigenous health Andrew Laming for posting "inflammatory" comments about racial tensions in Queensland.
Dr Laming made the remarks on Twitter on Monday night, after clashes between Aboriginal and Pacific Islander communities escalated at Logan, south of Brisbane, and saw the riot squad called in.
The MP for Bowman tweeted: "Mobs tearing up Logan. Did any of them do a day's work today, or was it business as usual and welfare on tap?"
Federal LNP MP Andrew Laming.
Mobs tearing up Logan tonight. Did any of them do a day's work today, or was it business as usual and welfare on tap?— Andrew Laming (@AndrewLamingMP) January 14, 2013
Trade Minister Craig Emerson, whose Rankin electorate includes Logan, said Dr Laming's comments were disgusting and appalling.
"Obviously, we call for calm, we call for people to settle down [in Logan]," Dr Emerson told Fairfax Radio on Tuesday.
"The process is not helped by the shadow parliamentary secretary for indigenous health, Andrew Laming, inserting himself into an area where he has no legitimate business."
Dr Emerson said Dr Laming should both apologise for his tweet and reassess whether he was "suitable" for the shadow parliamentary secretary job.
The trade minister also suggested Opposition Leader Tony Abbott should reprimand Dr Laming.
"Mr Abbott should ring Mr Laming and have a frank conversation about whether Mr Laming is fit to continue in his role," he said.
Dr Laming's comments outraged other Twitter users and prompted one person to start an online petition calling for the MP to apologise to the Logan community.
Francis Ventura of Melbourne created the petition saying: "Mr Laming needs to apologise immediately, otherwise his position as a shadow frontbencher has become untenable, and thus should resign or be sacked if a sincere apology is not provided."
Dr Laming responded on Twitter saying the move was a "petty-ition" concocted by the ALP.
He followed up on Tuesday with a post to ‘‘clarify’’ his earlier tweet, writing ‘‘working together to resolve these riots the priority. Training and a chance for jobs are key.’’
On Tuesday, acting opposition leader Warren Truss said that Mr Laming had issued a clarifying tweet and that was "appropriate".
"The first priority is to resolve the issues within the community and to build the social support networks to create a more cohesive community. We should not pretend the solutions are quick or easy," Mr Truss said.
Mr Truss cited the Coalition commitment to creatr one million new jobs in government.
"New jobs not only build a stronger national economy but they help to make communities stronger and create social cohesion," he said.
Mr Truss said the Coalition would not be lectured by the Labor Party on the issue.
Dr Laming has so far declined to respond to emails and phone calls. A poll he posted on his Facebook page overnight asking ''Should Brisbane street brawlers have the cost of police call-outs/damage deducted from their welfare?'' remains on his site.
Logan Mayor Pam Parker said the police didn’t need politicians making inflammatory comments.
‘‘I think when you’re in leadership, you have to be responsible in your comments and I don’t think that’s conducive to the situation,’’ Ms Parker told reporters.
‘‘The police have been out there putting their bodies on the line. They don’t need any politicians making inflammatory comments.
‘‘I’m sure they don’t appreciate that when they’re dealing with such a difficult situation.’’
Logan councillor Phil Pidgeon made similar remarks on the social networking site last night.
Cr Pidgeon wrote: ‘‘As a Cr [councillor] I am sick and tired of these morons. They need to get a job, get some pride & get rid of the chip on their shoulders.’’
In early 2011, Dr Laming prepared a list of tips for elected members on how to interact with voters on Twitter and Facebook.
His three-page handbook warned MPs against social media missteps. On his website, he describes himself as ''Australia's most innovative user of social media in politics''.
Dr Laming has a history of making provocative statements, including in October last year when he was ejected from parliament for shouting ''You are corrupt!'' to Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
Dr Laming insisted he did not utter the full statement, even though it was recorded in Hansard and by many journalists in the press gallery.
In May, he took to social media to comment on the tent embassy protest in Brisbane's inner west.
'Brisbane Sovereign Embassy' in Musgrave Park. Hoping kids arent missing school, or adults 'work' if they are able.— Andrew Laming (@AndrewLamingMP) May 15, 2012
The conflict between the Aboriginal and Pacific Islander communities in Logan flared at the weekend with two separate clashes in the suburb of Woodridge. The clash escalated again on Monday.
But Pacific Islander elder Ofa Fukofuka has denied the problem is racial and has said it's a disagreement between youths from different groups.
Extra police are patrolling the community today.
- with AAP, Jonathan Swan, Judith Ireland