Home by Christmas?

Or at least February? More reports are in today suggesting that Latho’s shelf life may be very limited, with the leaks turning into a stream and the knives well and truly unsheathed.

I commented in an earlier thread that any attempt on Latho’s part to reach out to new constituencies or progress policy development seems doomed to be mired in a proxy fight on his leadership. But this isn’t Iron Mark’s only problem. Re-affirming the Schools policy, Medicare Gold and the “thrust” of the Forests Policy has gone down like a lead balloon. The government and the media will endlessly run the “economic responsibility” line. The NSW Right, Bill Ludwig & the AWU, sections of the Victorian union movement, and now the State Premiers are all gunning for him, not to mention a veritable army of former frontbenchers turned backbenchers – Tanner and McMullen being two of the most prominent.

Crean was destroyed by destabilisation and constant leaking. Bringing the Glimmer Twins, Swan and Smith into the tent is probably a variant on the “keep your friends close, but your enemies closer” strategy. What are Latho’s chances? He’s hampered by the fact, like Crean, that his leadership partly rests on the support of the Left and sections of his own Right faction are deeply dissatisfied with his leadership, and unlike Crean, that he was a gamble that seems not to have paid off. An autocratic leadership style and a seeming unwillingness to take advice is not helpful either.

So, back to the Beazer? Or a nice whitebread politician with white teeth and a well-cut suit? Or can Latho hang on, and if so, how?

UPDATE: Latho says “I won’t be dumped as leader”. Never a good headline!

FURTHER UPDATE: Someone’s been leaking about Latho’s abusing Stephen Conroy for leaking.

About Mark Bahnisch

Mark Bahnisch is a sociologist and is the founder of this blog. He has an undergraduate degree in history and politics from UQ, and postgraduate qualifications in sociology, industrial relations and political economy from Griffith and QUT. He has recently been awarded his PhD through the Humanities Program at QUT. Mark's full bio is on this page.
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2021 years ago

The Labor Party is on the verge on becoming just like the NSW Liberal Party, changing leaders every couple of years (or sooner) out of sheer desperation or frustration, or just for the sake of it.

This has done the NSW Liberal Party no good whatsover. And replacing Latham at this time won’t help the Labor Party. The Labor Party’s problem is that it has done no policy development since 1996 and nobody knows what it stands for. The Labor Party probably doesn’t know what it stands for. That is what needs fixing. Changing the leader is a short term palliative that just gives everybody false hope and lets them avert their eyes from the real work to be done.

2021 years ago

This old article (dec 2003) compared the Latham style to the Kennett style.


Like Latham, Kennett crashed and burned, but Kennett hung in there, and when the time was right won power because the Kirner government lost it. Kennett of course eventually crashed and burned too many times, but he did have his glory years.

This article presciently says:

“Latham, like Kennett, represents a high-risk strategy. All things being equal, he should crash and burn, as Kennett did at least 11/2 times as opposition leader. The difference is, there would be no second chance for Latham”

If the ALP intend to replace Latham, they’d better do it now. Right now! and with a veangeance. Otherwise it’d just look deck chair rearrangement.

Scott Wickstein
2021 years ago

According to the Crikey.com.au daily email, Bomber’s health is such that he simply is not up to being a front-bencher let alone opposition leader. If there is a leadership change, it will be Rudd. Howard will hardly be trembling at the sight.

2021 years ago

Undoubtedly Latham’s style would get him into trouble. Also the fact that he was elected on the narrowest of margins did not help.

Also lots of this leadership talk is fuelled by the press gallery which is desperate for stories now that Howard has bee returned again.

liam hogan
2021 years ago

Ah, come off it. Latham is the best we’ve got. This is the worst-conceived beatup in the history of piss-poor Crikey beatups. Pffft.

Cameron Riley
2021 years ago

Australia is a “waitocracy”, the advantages of being the incumbent are so high that it requires a “drovers dog” election for the party to change power through the electorate.

If Latham wants to be Prime Minister and Labor wants to get back in power they just have to wait. Eventually the electorate will tire of the party in power and punish them at the polling booth. It may take 12 years, but that isn’t long to wait by Australian political standards.

This is how Howard got to be Prime Minister. He just kept waiting and waiting, while constantly challenging for the party leadership. The “lazarus on a triple bypass” is a polite way of saying waitocracy.

2021 years ago

Latho keeps coming out with the “disunity is death” line too. Not a good sign!

Cameron, your comments are spot on. Oppositions rarely win elections, Governments lose them. Usually only when they have got very tired and corrupt, although the occasional PM or Premier manages to stuff things up so spectacularly that they get the boot after a short time in office. Think Gough (yes, socially he was a marvellous breath of fresh air, but any PM who responds to being told there isn’t enough money in the till to fund a pet program by saying “we’ll just print some more” can’t last. Not to mention Jim Cairns as Treasurer, the Khemlani affair etc), or in State politics, Cain and Transcontinental/State Bank. The SA Government had their State Bank debacle as well.

On the other side of politics, the corruption seems to be more of a problem. Think Joh and brown paper bags, or the Askin Government in NSW, for those with long enough memories.

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2021 years ago

I am getting deju all over again only it is 1993.

As it was John Hewson resigned after a successful destabilisation campaign by a short balding bloke however the Libs went and picked Downer!
Hewson could have won the 96 election he just wasn’t given the chance ironically just like howard in 90.

This time round everyone thought Iron Mark had out campaigned howard but then changed their mind on Saturday night!

Iron Mark promised a very conservative economic policy. This strategy had worked at State levels eg Victoria,WA and SA.
I thought it would assist them this time however the punters thought the ALP was outspending the Libs!
This was just bad salesmanship.

Also how long can a vastly overleveraged housing sector last until interest rates rise or a recession comes along.
Then it is bye bye Johnee.

Who would replace Iron Mark?
MY best guess is that he should get some of his previous material and recycle it.

On education the punters liked it so keep it.
On health wait three years and see what it costs however remember the biggest costs in health are drugs not hospitals.
The forests policy was actually conservative. Jobs are going there despite pro-logging policies because they are at the wrong end of the value chain.
Explain them better and a year out.

Lastly do not forget the Treasurer showed during the campaign he does not understnd basic budget costings.
Put him under pressure in this area.
Egg him and Abbott et al on and the hubris will follow.

2021 years ago

Agree with you there Homer.

I too think this is a beat up. Beazley back? Come off it. Would anyone vote in Swan or Smith or Rudd? NO. They are devoid of personality, and look like clones (great pollies and spectacularly talented ministers, though). The only person who could do it – and she’s not ready – is Julia Gillard.

I am not giving up on Mark – I think the analogies with Howard’s experience are apt. Latham’s burning desire is to be PM, and he’s not going backwards. He’ll fight to the death. And what’s more, folks will love him for it. When they are ready to get rid of the Liberals.

All we need is that dead cat hanging around the Government …