/ 29 March 2021

A numbers game for the coalition – and job seekers

THE SQUIZ
Brissie MP Dr Andrew Laming will not contest the next election. Complaints were made last week by 2 women who said he had trolled them on Facebook – but that’s not where it ends… After apologising in Parliament on Thursday, he returned to Facebook to say he didn’t know what he was apologising for. That saw PM Scott Morrison order him to get empathy training – and then Nine News aired claims that in 2018 he’d taken an inappropriate photo of a woman as she worked. Yesterday, Liberals Sarah Henderson and Katie Allen told ABC TV’s Insiders that he should go. Not long after that, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said Laming would not stand for re-election. In a statement, Laming asked for privacy and he gets the help he says he needs.

WHY ARE YOU TELLING ME SO MUCH ABOUT A BLOKE I’VE NEVER HEARD OF BEFORE?
Because while it’s part of a discussion about culture that pundits say is hurting Morrison’s standing with voters, Laming’s situation is also about the Coalition’s numbers in the Parliament. If he goes now, the government would not have a majority in the House of Reps at least until a by-election was held. Craig Kelly quit the Liberals last month leaving the Coalition with a one-seat buffer. So if Laming was to go, Morrison would have to rely on crossbench support to hold onto government – and that’s messy. Not surprisingly, Labor leader Anthony Albanese is pressing the case that Laming should leave ASAP because he “brings disrepute and disgrace to our nation’s Parliament.”

ANY OTHER TROUBLES ON THE HORIZON FOR THE COALITION?
Expect to hear a bit about the end of the JobKeeper wage supplement after the $90 billion COVID emergency measure was turned off yesterday. Treasury boss Steven Kennedy says he expects up to 150,000 jobs will be lost and thinks more than 100,000 small businesses are at risk of closing. Yesterday, Treasurer Frydenberg said the government will “continue to support the economy through targeted support measures as well as tax cuts, business incentives and a record investment in skills and training and infrastructure.” But the hope is last month’s strong employment numbers shows our economy is up to creating enough jobs to absorb those who find themselves without one in the coming months. Unions boss Sally McManus yesterday said that “the pandemic is still with us, withdrawing it now is too soon.”

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