Mark Latham is no longer the current leader of Australian Labor Party. He was at the time of writing, but as of 18th January 2005, he resigned, seceding his position to Kim Beazley. The ALP lost the Australian Federal Election 2004, meaning that John Howard is now the second longest running Prime Minister of Australia, behind Robert Menzies (also of the Liberal Party). He cited his recent poor health, suffering from pancreatitus as well as supposed media hounding; it probably could be said that a fair amount of it comes from internal bickering amongst the ALP and perceptions of weakness.

He created a bit of controversy after referring to the Prime Minister John Howard as an "arselicker" and said "Mr Howard and his Government are just yes-men to the United States. There they are a conga line of suckholes on the conservative side of Australian politics".1 This was in reference John Howard's seemingly instant [read: no public debate considered] support of George W. Bush's (successful) plan to oust Saddam Hussein from Iraq. [Author's side note: I don't like John Howard much, but I don't know enough of Mark Latham's policies / views to know whether he would be any better for the top job, other than he opposes social welfare programs somewhat, lest they become taken for granted and encourage 'idleness'; he also seems to want greater civic action rather than government action to help solve socio-economic problems (at least, from what I saw at his speech to the press club )2]

Background

Born 28th February 1961 in Sydney, Australia, Mark Latham grew up in Green Valley, near Liverpool. He attended Ashcroft Public School and Hurlstone Agricultural High School. Later he completed a Bachelor of Economics (Honours) at Sydney University.3 In a previous life, he's been a barman and a director at the Chifley Research Centre.4

He joined the ALP in 1979 and held various positions including political advisor, councillor and Mayor of Liverpool. He became leader of the ALP after Simon Crean resigned the position in November-December 2003.

Books5

  • Reviving Labor's Agenda (Essay, Pluto Press, 1990.)
  • Civilising Global Capital: New Thinking for Australian Labor (Allen & Unwin, ISBN: 1864486686, 1998)
  • What Did You Learn Today?: Creating an Education Revolution(Allen & Unwin, ISBN: 1865084786,2001)
  • The Enabling State: Putting People Before Bureaucracy (Pluto Press, ISBN: 1864031034, 2001)
  • From The Suburbs, Building a Nation from our Neighborhoods (essays, 2003)

A discussion of his books and views/ideas can be read at Crikey (see hawkeyes writeup), at http://www.crikey.com.au/politics/2004/01/25-0001.html

(1) http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2003/s1001946.htm
(2) http://www.australianpolitics.com.au/news/2004/02/04-02-18.shtml Press Club Speech, Februrary 2004
(3) http://www.whitlam.org/people/latham_mark.html
(4) http://www.chifley.org.au/about/board/index.php?people_id=5
(5) http://www.whitlam.org/people/latham_mark.html , with a bit of Amazon searching for ISBNs.

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