Ex-MP fined $20k over Facebook posts

Former Liberal MP Andrew Laming has been fined $20,000 for Facebook posts which breached electoral laws.

The Australian Electoral Commission began legal action against the former Bowman MP in 2021 over the posts he made in the lead-up to the 2019 election, in which he failed to disclose his political connections.

In the Federal Court yesterday, Justice Rangiah found Laming had breached Section 321D(5) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Cth) three times in 2018 and 2019.

Laming was the administrator of the Redland Hospital: Let’s Fight for Fair Funding Facebook page, and published posts which “did not notify his name or relevant town or city in respect of any of the posts” as required by the Act.

He was fined $10,000 for a post on 24 December 2018, in which he referred to himself in the third person, stating he had “boosted” funding of the Redland Hospital by $77 million.

He was fined $5000 for a post on 7 February 2019, in which he posted an image and wrote a caption, comparing the federal funding for Metro South Health provided by the Liberal National Party with that provided by the Australian Labor Party.


He was fined $5000 for a post on 5 May 2019, in which he posted a table comparing payments made by the Commonwealth Government and the State Government to Metro South Hospital and Health Service between 2017 and 2018, captioning it “Know anyone supporting Labor. Send them this”.

He was not fined for two posts he made on February 13, 2019, in which he posted an extract from Hansard, and stated that he had “ripped Labor a new one”.

Justice Rangiah said he regarded the first post in December 2018 as “particularly serious”.

“It was not merely a case of Mr Laming omitting to notify his name and relevant town or city, but a deliberate attempt to disguise the fact that he was its author. Misleading conduct of that kind strikes at the core of the integrity of our electoral system,” he said.

“I infer Mr Laming thought that by pretending the post was written by someone else, his self-flattery is more likely to be accepted by viewers as true and his achievement admirable.

“I am persuaded by the lengths he went to in perpetrating the deception that his predominant purpose was self-promotion. If his predominant purpose was to communicate the funding boost, he would have done so without the deception.”


Laming argued his posts were not communicated for the dominant purpose of influencing electors in a federal election, they did not relate to a federal election, and they fell within an exception under s 4AA(3) the Act as “the reporting of news, presenting of current affairs or any genuine editorial content in new media”.

On his Facebook page, Laming indicated he would lodge an appeal against the ruling.

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