The 'The Latham Diaries' Diaries: 1998

It's an even numbered year, it's the Labor Party, it's January... welcome to Hobart!:
Friday, 23 January
One black mark, however. The Conference dinner was held downriver from Hobart and delegates piled into boats to get there. On arrival, we were ordered to stay on board while Princess Cheryl (Kernot) and her two fawning courtiers, Kim and Gareth, disembarked first. The Labor Royal Family. I hate it when we mimic the hierarchy and snobbery of high society. In Australia, socialism has always been a social habit, much more than a political program. We are all equal in our mateship group. Now, unhappily in the ALP at least, some are more equal than others. - Page 71

This idea is almost as scary as Mark Latham, PM:

Tuesday, 24 March
An interesting conversation with Leo McLeay, who reckons that Martin Ferguson will be the next Labor MP: 'Kim will lose twice and then Ferguson will take over - he's got the working-class credentials and the support of the unions, just like Hawke'. I don't see it myself. Marn (that's Martin in Ferguson-speak) has the public appeal of a wet sandshoe and often talks like one. - Page 73

And now the juicy sex and Gough scandal comes into the picture:

Thursday, 9 July
What sort of Party is this? I was the guest speaker at Robert McClelland's fundraiser at Brighton-le-Sands (in the seat of Barton) at lunchtime today and Gough Whitlam took me aside for a word. And the conversation went like this (my recollection from a couple of hours ago):

Whitlam: Comrade, there's something I need to raise with you. Gary Gray called on me and asked me to pass on his concerns that you are coming on too strongly with the women in Canberra. He seems to think there is a sexual harassment claim against you. Now, it sounds unlikely to me, comrade. I've seen you in action and you are quite prolific. If anything, the women come strongly after you. So, as I say, it sounds like bullshit but he asked me to raise it with you and now I have.

Latham: Well, it's bullship. I don't know what to say. I've known you a long time and I can assure you it's rubbish. I've never laid a hand on a women, never. It's true. I haven't been a monk since my marriage broke up, but nothing like this has happened. Sexual harassment? They've got to be kidding.
- Page 77

More on Beazley's supposed six-year vilification campaign:

Sunday, 19 July
Earlier in the week I had a good tip-off from a senior Fairfax journalist (who said I could never use his name anywhere) that Beazley's office was tipping dirt on me around the press gallery. And, right on cue, a snippet appeared in the Sunday papers today. First Gray and now this: the arseholes are really coming after me. I can't help but compare this treatment with the way Bob Hawke supported Beazley when his first marriage broke down circa 1989. - Page 79

Whilst many others on the left are doing their best ostrich impression on the issue of globalisation, Latham shows that he gets it:

Saturday, 1 August
Unfortunately Labor has contributed to the Hansonite surge with its populism on tariffs. We should never have let the protectionist genie out of its bottle. Economic isolationism is the flipside of social racism, encouraging people to think the worst of other nations and people. It also has a domino effect - just look at the special pleading groups that have jumped out of the ground in recent times. - Page 80

Latham on the VCs:

Sunday, 18 October
Politics aside, one of the biggest problems Australia faces is a lack of talent at the top of its institutions. I was generally optimistic about Australia's future until I met its Vice-Chancellors. What a drab lot. I expected a group of dynamic heavy-hitters to lead the nation's universities but the standard is very poor. For all the debate about reseources, 30 top individuals would actually make a bigger difference. - Page 89

Latham... Lachlan... Kettle... Black:

Tuesday, 15 December
I gave a decent speech about future trends in Australian politics and got to meet Lachlan Murdoch for the first time (who doesn't seem like the sharpest tool in the shed, but then again, I'm always hard on inheritance boys). That was yesterday. Today, The Australian's editorial is advising Beazley to put a sock in my mouth. Guest speaker one day, deadshit the next. That's media consistency for you. - Page 93


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