Under-fire Morrison government MP Andrew Laming says he has been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), prompting Labor to accuse him of using it to excuse his “abhorrent” behavior.
In a news.com.au article published on Wednesday, Dr. Laming revealed his ADHD diagnosis and said he had “no idea” it could be an adult condition, even though he is a trained medical doctor. There is a history of the state in his family.
Two weeks ago, the Liberal National Party took formal action to ensure he could not recontest his Brisbane-based seat.
That followed a month that saw Dr. Laming forced to apologize in parliament after two female constituents accused him of abusing them online. One said the abuse left her suicidal.
He was also accused of taking a photograph of a woman bending over in her work without her consent while her underwear was visible. Police investigated the matter, but no action was taken. Dr. Laming has denied any inappropriate behavior.
Labor MP Amanda Rishworth hit out at Dr. Laming on Wednesday and accused him of blaming his behavior on ADHD.
“I am really disappointed with Andrew Laming using a diagnosis of ADHD to effectively excuse his bad behavior towards women in his electorate,” she told reporters.
“Quite frankly, it’s an insult to those Australians with ADHD that Andrew Laming blames his abhorrent behavior on his diagnosis.”
Dr. Laming is about to return to work after being ordered to take a month of medical leave to seek help, including training to improve his ability to understand and be aware of his own actions.
He said his diagnosis was “not an excuse,” but it helped explain some of his behavior.
The Bowman MP said he had no idea that ADHD was a condition that could follow people into adulthood. He’d experienced immediate relief after going onto medication after his recent diagnosis.
“I’ve learned you don’t learn everything at medical school,” he told Sky News on Wednesday. “I had some rough idea it persists into teens … but I never knew one percent of Australians live with it into adulthood.”
He said his diagnosis and treatment had taken an enormous weight off his family, and those working in his electorate office who “bore the brunt of it, made up for me, cut me slack”.
And his condition – “sometimes a superpower, and sometimes a curse” – meant he could finally concentrate, finally be present for entire conversations, and sit still long enough to play a board game with his daughters.
He had also said he had a social media addiction, giving up time with his family so he could relentlessly post comments on community pages.
Dr. Laming said he’d use his remaining time in parliament to make sure other adult sufferers of ADHD understood it was a treatable condition.
Later on Wednesday evening, during a radio interview with the ABC, Dr. Laming hung up after presenter Patricia Karvelas continued to ask him about the alleged upskirting incident.
“If you really care about ADHD and the people that live with it as adults, I’m happy to answer questions as your producer committed you’d be asking me [but] if you insist on going on in this vein, we can’t continue the conversation, and I’ll let your listeners make up their own mind,” Dr. Laming said before hanging up.
In late March, the MP apologized in parliament for harassing two prominent women from his electorate over several years, including questioning whether one of them might be loading up her personal credit card with money meant for charity.
But in the wake of the apology, he went on Facebook to say he did not know what he was apologizing for.
Minister Scott Morrison later ordered him to seek help, including empathy training, saying he wanted to see “a very significant change in his behavior”.
With additional reporting by SBS News.