Update: Federal Coalition MP Andrew Laming says he takes full responsibility for the 'liking' of a sexist Facebook page about Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
brisbanetimes.com.au this morning reported that Mr Laming had "blamed his staff" for liking the page: “How's Julia Gillard going to run the country from the kitchen?” on his Facebook page.
The Oxford Dictionary defines 'blame' as "assign fault or responsibility to; assign the responsibility for (an error or wrong) to a person".
While Mr Laming told brisbanetimes.com.au yesterday, and again this morning, that it was a staff member who had committed the "error", he rang the website's office this morning to stress he was not trying to deny responsibility for the page.
"It is my 100 per cent responsibility," Mr Laming said.
"There is no 'blame'."
Mr Laming, who this morning posted a link to the brisbanetimes.com.au story on his Facebook page, said he had received as much negative feedback about apportioning blame over the incident as the original mistake, and he didn't want people to think he was shirking responsibility.
The Federal Member for Bowman, east of Brisbane, said his office had clear procedures around engaging with social media pages, which meant that offensive pages should be ignored but satirical pages were OK.
He said the page about Ms Gillard should have been identified as "offensive".
"I admit I've erred," he said.
While the page in question no longer appears on Mr Laming's official Facebook page's list of “likes”, several other inflammatory ones remain including "I HATE JULIA GILLARD" and "Julia Gillard should be taxed for the carbon dioxide she breathes out".
Mr Laming, the shadow parliamentary secretary for regional health services and indigenous health, told critics on his Facebook page the kitchen page title was indeed “sexist and dodgy”.
He told this website yesterday his staff needed to “like” the pages to post poll questions on those pages, as part of a bid to engage with constituents.
“My staff did a poll and connected with every page relating to Julia Gillard (good or bad) in order to post a poll question (and nothing more),” Mr Laming told brisbanetimes.com.au.
“They do the same with Tony Abbott pages, carbon tax pages or whatever the topic is.
“I have no interest in the pages, but think politicians should communicate with all Australians who wish to be part of civil debate. As a politician, I shouldn't scrap people because of the pages they follow.”
Mr Laming said he had one of the fastest-growing and most vigorous political Facebook pages, receiving about 1000 comments a week including remarks from supporters and critics alike.
Since the criticism, Mr Laming has also removed from Facebook page another page previously "liked" called: “Wanting to shoot yourself every time Julia Gillard talks”.
Earlier this year, Mr Laming wrote a guide for LNP MPs on how to avoid social media mistakes.
At the time, he said sensitivities remained around the way elected representatives conduct themselves on Facebook, with the benefits of cheap, instant and targeted communication “balanced by the political risk of missteps”.
It is not the first time a politician has got into hot water over social media activities.
Queensland state Labor MP Jason O'Brien drew opposition criticism in July after tweeting his relief at the end of budget scrutiny sessions: “Estimate committee meeting finished for another year. Thank f**k!”
The Liberal Party dumped David Barker as its federal candidate for the western Sydney seat of Chifley last year after he told his Facebook friends Labor was moving Australia closer to being a Muslim country and God was “on the side of the Liberal Right”.
Labor's successful candidate in the seat, Ed Husic, is a Muslim.
And earlier this year, the Queensland Party disendorsed Bundamba candidate Ray Cole for posting a comment on Twitter questioning police professionalism following the shooting of Gold Coast detective Damian Leeding.
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