Liberal MP Andrew Laming

Andrew Laming: Find people who care, not who need empathy training

Can empathy training really help Liberal MP Andrew Laming?

Of all the weird and wonderful potions that have come out of government, this one has the shine and shimmer of snake oil.

I’m not saying there’s nothing in it. What I am saying is that my admittedly basic research shows that empathy training is all about teaching someone to care.

So, when we fob someone off by urging them to tell someone who cares – talk to the hand, as we used to say – that person is obviously not Andrew Laming, a man democratically elected to represent the people of the Division of Bowman in Queensland.

He needs to be taught how to care. Anyone seeing anything wrong here yet?

How is it that people who need lessons in caring are representing us at the highest level?

And another thing, how is it that when we find out there seems to be something amiss in the empathy department, we suggest a bit of training instead of finding someone who does care?

And when I say we, I mean, of course, the Prime Minister.

Okay, Dr Laming isn’t going to stand again, but that seems like a fairly easy out.

This is a man who is known for a number of things: doing a handstand while sculling a beer on Australia Day (I don’t hold that against him – I can’t perform a handstand with or without a beer); making questionable comments about Indigenous Australians on Twitter and Facebook; bringing marine fuel into Parliament.

He has also cleared land mines in Afghanistan and apparently made a difference to eye health in Australia. More recently, he seems to have been using his eyes to make at least two women’s lives a living hell.

At the Prime Minister’s “urging”, he apologised, later saying he wasn’t even too sure at the time what he was apologising for.

Now, Dr Laming is calling for privacy while he undergoes counselling.

One of the women who has been trolled by this man for six years said Dr Laming hid in the bushes to take photos of her in the park. Perhaps she hadn’t thought to make a public plea for privacy while she went about her daily life.

Is this really, truly the best we have to offer? How can we find better people? Who are leaders? Who represent their constituents? Who care?

Maybe this man is just misguided, and has been for at least six years. Maybe he’s not a bully boy who wages a mighty war on Facebook, but someone crying out for help.

Maybe, but I just can’t see it. A spot of empathy training might help me out.

Marie Low is a freelance journalist based in Gunnedah, New South Wales

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