Tim Blair


New Criterion



Monday, June 21, 2004

There is a war going on, so we shouldn't be surprised at Mark Latham's resort to the compulsive power of the state.

Strange he should start with bank shareholders, who are to be obliged to fund uneconomic branches in the bush, but it's the principle that counts. even if the banks don't see it.

Personally, I'd put a higher priority on putting doctors and lawyers in the bush, where their services are sadly under-supplied. Paid for by the AMA and the Law Society, of course.

Next, plumbers, video stores and MacDonald's. Cancel the plumbers, the unions wouldn't wear it.

The Latham vision inspires The Age's Peter Hudson, who finds it the most sweeping pre-election manifesto by an opposition leader since John Hewson's ill-fated Fightback, a line Latham parrots triumphantly in tonight's 7.30 Report. But will it have the same electoral impact?

The Age also thinks it's beastly the way turning up the heat on Opposition Leader Mark Latham. This situation has nothing to do with Latham's refusal to have policies on tax and the US-Australia Free Trade Agreement, of course.

Or with his promise to hold a referendum on the proposal to convert our constitution to a republic, while he and his nominated AG hold opposite views on the most important single issue the change entails:
The shadow attorney-general, Nicola Roxon - who would be charged with the responsibility of implementing constitutional change should Labor win power - is at odds with her leader. Mr Latham says that a directly elected president "carries a certain confidence" while Ms Roxon says of the direct electionists, "I am not one of them".
Meanwhile, with Latham's support, the sacked ATSIC commissioners will continue to get their pay for doing nothing, which is, at least, an improvement on the status quo ante the Government's decision to wind the organisation up.

The foul Murdoch press has been remarkably unkind to the Labor Party leader, finding an example of digital rebuke ranking with that of rugby legend John Hopoate. Since Latham was a university cricketer at the time he was unable to grapple the offending umpire closely enough to reach full proctological climax, but he sure showed him what he meant.
The future Labor leader was banned for a game after giving an umpire a two-fingered salute – "abuse of an official" – and a bit of backchat after a leg-before-wicket call.

This is the kind of RUTHLESS personal attacks to which Henny Herald takes exception.

Like the Government's inquiry into the Labor Party's ram raid on the federal Treasury in the Centenary House lease, at a once-in-a-century rental that would make turning the Park Hyatt into offices look like good value.

Even Paul Keating's ghost-writer, Don Watson, got stuck in to Latham for preferring Bill Clinton's rhetoric to his.
Watson yesterday labelled Mark Latham "pathetic" for allegedly borrowing from speeches by former US president Bill Clinton.

"Why in the hell would you get up and make your statement, when you've been Leader of the Opposition for six months, and knock off a speech from Bill Clinton," Watson said.

"It's grotesque."
It's a pleasure to agree with you Don. Hop over the corridor. I'm told Peter Costello is in the market.

You can't say this is a dull election campaign, and it hasn't even started.