The 'The Latham Diaries' Diaries: 2000

Though they were immortalised in print as enemies, Mark Latham had something positive to say about Tony Abbott:

Thursday, 6 January
Maybe it's his (Abbott's) background in the Catholic Church, but he seems strongly committed to the principles of social self-help - not rampant individualism but a revival of old-style mutualism in society.
- Page 127

Latham was close mates with the late Greg Wilton, the Labor Right MP who committed suicide after his marriage fell apart in 2000. Understandably, Latham was sensitive about the issue, and was savage toward those who sought to take advantage of it:

Monday, 29 May
Met with Beazley to discuss the situation. I know politics is a tough game but I am still unnerved by the conversation. Kim was more worried about the possibility of a by-election than Greg's wellbeing - he doesn't know him that well and seemed distant from the problems Pills (Latham's rather macarbe nickname for Wilton) has to deal with.

Read the
Herald-Sun coverage in yesterday's paper. There are some real bastards around - a so-called 'MP' friend said that Greg was a loner, highly strung and in a 'depressed state'. If he was a friend, he wouldn't be saying those things and not off the record. Sounds like Conroy. - Page 135

...and then the day Wilton did the deed:

Wednesday, 14 June
How do you write this, how do you explain that someone thinks so little of his life that he decides to end it? Greg is dead. He drove out to a national park last night and ended it - an escape from the pain and loss. That's the only way to explain it. He left a message on my mobile yesterday afternoon, saying that things were going to be okay, not to worry about going to Melbourne again. I felt encouraged when I heard it, but now I know what he really meant. Things are okay because people can't hurt him any more. His pain is gone. Unbelievable grief for those he has left behind.
- Page 138

The Latham as class warrior is not always an apt characterisation of his policy direction. Take this fine understanding of education policy:

Thursday, 27 July
Today I tried to fill in some of the gaps with a speech on education policy to the Fabian Society in Melbourne. The key conceptual breakthrough is to abandon the old ideological struggle between public and private money in education. If one accepts the logic of lifelong learning - the massive task of embedding learning opportunities in all parts of society, in all parts of the lifecycle - then we need to mobilise more learning resources from all institutions, public and private.

Governments, corporations, individuals and communities need to do more. If the task is left to the scarce resources of government, then education will continue to be under-funded. If it is left solely to the private sector and funding deregulation, then low-income people will miss out.
- Page 140

...and another sad snippet on Keating:

Monday, 11 September
A long meeting with Keating at his Sydney office. Two-and-a-half hours and it felt like he had nowhere else to go. Maybe he's getting like Gough, talking the leg off a chair.
- Page 144

And to round out the year, an indication of how different recent history has been compared to the predictions on post pundits:

Thursday, 7 December
Next year will test the rule that the Australian public always gets it election results right. In truth, we don't deserve to win, we've been too opportunitic and cynical. So the Coalition would normally win next year. Howard will will then hand over to Costello, who will beat Crean in 2004. A minimum of eleven years in Opposition.
- Page 149

Looks like he got the last bit right.


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