Minister accused of inciting cyberbullying over post

Shannon Fentiman says the LNP made "very strong allegations" that she incited online violence.

Shannon Fentiman says the LNP made "very strong allegations" that she incited online violence. Photo: AAP

Queensland Health Minister Shannon Fentiman has been accused of inciting cyberbullying after sharing a video claiming the opposition told her to “close your legs” in parliament.

Opposition health spokeswoman Ros Bates said she had received vile messages and threats of violence since the video went “viral” on social media.

The video featured Fentiman under fire from the opposition over regional maternity ward closures during Wednesday’s Question Time.

Voices were raised and Bates yelled “cross your legs”, suggesting that was what mothers in labour had to do in regional areas due to the closures.

However initial social media video posts claimed Fentiman was being told to “close your legs” in parliament.

“The debate around maternity services has gone viral and unleashed a wave of cyberbullying and it has quite frankly been horrific,” an emotional Bates said of the social media video in parliament on Thursday.

“As a childhood victim of domestic family violence, these texts have been terrifying.”

Fentiman initially shared a clip of the comment on X, formerly Twitter, with a “close your legs” caption.

The state government had believed that was the comment but it was later corrected by the official transcript, prompting Fentiman to change her post.

“Ros Bates has confirmed she says ‘cross your legs’ not ‘close your legs’ – I think this is equally as abhorrent,” Fentiman later posted.

Bates said her comment was referring to the plight of regional women about to give birth being transferred between hospitals due to maternity ward closures.

“The comment was clearly not about the health minister. It was about the alarming Queensland maternity crisis, which continues to worsen on her watch,” Bates said in a statement.

However, Bates replied: “I am a victim and I do not wits Bates told parliament she was the victim of cyberbullying due to Ms Fentiman’s post and pleaded with the minister to remove it.

However, Fentiman argued the LNP spokeswoman had made “very strong allegations” that she had incited online violence and took personal offence to the claims.

Under parliamentary rules, Bates was asked to withdraw her comments by Speaker Curtis Pitt.

However Bates replied: “I am a victim and I do not withdraw”.

Pitt referred the refusal to the ethics committee.

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