Latham Diaries III

There goes Mark Latham, Labor stalwart, adjourning to the side lines. Goodbye Mark. You may not be missed all that much -- but as exits go, yours is almost sublime! -- Unsolicited Testimony (name withheld by request)


Following the return to political life of ARTHUR AUGUSTUS CALWELL, open season on ALP bashing has taken a decidedly unusual turn. Staggered by the exposé contained in Mark Latham’s recently published diaries, the Party has turned to its ancestors to re-affirm its roots and shore up its legacy.

Not one to stand on ceremony, the grand old man of the ALP parliamentary caucus has been seen shadowing Kim Beazley at every turn and photo opportunity throughout the length and breadth of this dry, brown land on which we all do dwell.

Hero of True Believers everywhere, Arthur Augustus Calwell MHR (retired) has been putting his current reincarnation to very good use indeed. "I'm still the man I used to be", the sprightly gent can be heard to say to anyone in ear-shot. "If I was any fitter, I'd be dangerous."

I was able to catch up with the honorably deceased, who kindly granted me an audience despite his busy schedule.

Any audience with the distinguished parliamentarian is never a private affair. Always milling around are his many aides and actuaries, who he jokenly refers to as his "pallbearers".

"I don't mind telling you", he said after the customary exchanges of greeting, "that I know I'm looked upon as a bit of a has-been in some quarters. Calwell, they ask, who's he?

"Maybe I am an antique. Good lord, I've been dead and buried for many a long year. But you know, I've been exhumed for a very good reason. And I have Mark Latham to thank for that.

"The Party," he said, as he paused briefly to cross himself, "needs firm leadership. So I have come among you with such a higher purpose in mind. I'm here to remind people what the Labor Party stands for.

"There I was, minding my own business, making my own way through eternity, as is the way with we moribund types, when I got the nod that the party was drifting from its roots. Come back to lead us they said.

"Could I spare a mo'? It wasn't as if I was busy. Of course, I heeded the call. I know it well: now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party. And before you can say upsadaisy, I'm no longer horizontally disposed.

"That's the long and the short of it. But it's somewhat strange to visit like this only to discover that, after all, I was only being exploited for damage control. I thought there was a vacancy... I thought I'd get my old job back! Mind you, I'm grateful they thought of me. It's an honour to be exhumed for purposes other than forensic, but really they shouldn't have bothered. Those True Believers will believe anything you tell them.

"Trust me, I know. There's one born every minute.

"And by the way, " the old sage quipped as we parted and he headed back to his crypt, "if this Beazley character gets the flick, you know where to find me.

Ten reasons why young idealistic people should forget about organised politics -- a public lecture by Mr Mark Latham ,former leader of the Australian Labor Party, at the University of Melbourne, 27 September 2005

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