The nation’s media is abuzz with Mark Latham’s book, the Latham Diaries, with Australia’s political journalists telling us how fortunate we are that he never became Prime minister.
In their usual way they decline to recall that when he became Opposition Leader, the Canberra Press Gallery campaigned that he become our next prime minister.
At about this time, the Herald Sun published a perceptive cartoon in which Mr Latham was doing what so ludicrously excited the gallery – reading to children. In the cartoon, he was shown reading to a bed full of wide eyed children, lapping up his every word. At the end of the bed was this simple notice:” Canberra Press Gallery”.
The gallery, readers will recall, campaigned heavily for the Yes case in 1999. So as an ardent republican, Mark Latham appealed to them. After all when he became Mayor of Liverpool, he ordered the Queen’s portrait to be taken down. This did not, incidentally, stop him from subsequently swearing allegiance to the Sovereign – on more than one occasion.
Loyalty was never his strongest point. According to Leader of the Opposition, Kim Beazley, if awards were made for biting the hand that fed them, Mr Latham would be in the very centre of the dais.
As Opposition Leader, he endorsed the ARM’s expensive and deceitful proposal to force Australians to keep on voting about republicanism – until they get it right.
This is the plan to have three federal votes which is to culminate, according to the ARM’s own Senator Marise Payne, in what we have regularly called in this column, the Latham model.
This is the model which republican eminences, such as Malcolm Turnbull and Greg Craven, warn would be a disaster- an elected President invested with the powers of the Governor-General, and in almost daily competition with the Prime Minister and the cabinet-a recipe for misgovernment if ever there were one.
Mark Latham seized this model and this plan, and decided to make both of them his own. But instead of spacing the three federal votes, he decided to have one each year!
The Latham government, in its first and one suspects only term, would have been in perpetual campaign mode! Indeed , there would have been no time for anything else. And the third federal vote was to coincide with the next election. It would have overshadowed it-hardly good politics.
The Latham Plan was so foolish, so dangerous and so impossible, the commentators –had they been at all professional-should have exposed him as unsuited for high office just because of this.
After all this was not some minor matter-this was about the Constitution-the fundamental law of the Commonwealth!
But such is the Canberra Press Gallery’s attachment to republicanism, and their hatred of John Howard, they ignored the impossibility of the Latham Plan and the Latham Model and instead promoted his candidature.
They even solemnly and almost unanimously announced that that inconsequential waste of broadcast time, the debate, was won by Mr Latham.
ACM decided that voters in key electorates should know about the Latham Plan and the Latham model. Near to one million pamphlets on this were handed out.
Fortunately, rank and file Australians have much more common sense than the elites. And when they rejected him, Mark Latham, the ultra republican, imploded.
Surely, Mr Beazley will now bury both the Latham Republic and the Latham Plan.
He wouldn’t take Labor to the next election with them – for the third time – would he?
Until next time,