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LNP branch chair quits over Bowman preselection

Politics

The preselection of a man accused of fat-shaming to succeed Andrew Laming as the Liberal National Party candidate for the Brisbane bayside seat of Bowman has prompted the chairman and other members of the local branch to resign.

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Henry Pike was the sole male contender in the five-way ballot on Sunday, and had the backing of federal Assistant Minister for Women Amanda Stoker.

His victory over his preselection rivals, who included Redlands Mayor Karen Willaims, prompted the resignation of branch chair Craig Luxton in the hours after the vote.

In an online message to branch members, Luxton said he could not “see a path to victory”.

“I am not aligned with the new candidate and after years of faithful service I have spoken to the party president this evening and resined effective immediately.”

“Tonight, I have also been handed the resignations of the Treasurer Ed Barclay and Secretary Matt McEachan.”

An LNP spokesman told AAP that no date has been set for Bowman branch members to choose a new chair.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese reacted to Pike’s preselection on Facebook on Monday

“This is the modern Liberal National Party in Queensland – they choose the only male candidate in the race to replace Andrew Laming,” he said.

“And this man has a history of fat-shaming women.”

Pike recently told Sky News he was a changed person after messages in a group chat from more than a decade ago were published following a complaint by a female LNP member.

“(It) states quite clearly in the Bible that f****** a fat chick is a sin beyond redemption,” he wrote in a message reported by Sky News on Thursday.

In a subsequent statement, Pike told Sky: “Twelve years ago I was part of a private group chat that doesn’t reflect the person I’ve grown to be. Like lots of men, I’m embarrassed about some of the things I said when I was younger and would never say today.”

Earlier this year Laming said he would not recontest his seat after taking a month’s paid medical leave to seek empathy training ordered by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Morrison ordered his MP to apologise and characterised his online behaviour as “disgraceful”.

Laming had been accused of harassing two women from his electorate over several years but said he was a victim of character assassinations and his conduct towards women had been misrepresented.

He was also accused of taking an unsolicited photograph of a woman bending over at work while her underwear was exposed.

Laming said the police found no evidence of a criminal offence and that the photo was innocent and meant to show a woman working hard on the job.

He later revealed he’d been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and attributed some of his behaviour to that.

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