Mark Latham is not fit to remain in parliament

Sydney MP Alex Greenwich says Mark Latham’s homophobic attack on him suggests that he is unwell but this latest episode in his long history of abuse proves he is not a fit and proper person to remain in parliament.

Regrettably, there is no parliamentary mechanism to deal with transgressions like Latham’s. He should do the decent thing and resign. But of course, Latham is not a decent man.

His dark obsessions with gays, abused women, casual racism and trans people are beyond the pale and clearly unacceptable in a modern society that values tolerance and openness. So, what to do? The very least is that MPs should censure him urgently after vote counting is completed on April 20. Further, major parties and his fellow crossbenchers should resolve to have nothing to do with this tainted parody of a politician.

The tweets from One Nation NSW leader Mark Latham have drawn wide condemnation.

Dominic Lorrimer

Latham belatedly attacked Greenwich after the independent MP had castigated him as “an extremely hateful and dangerous individual” following the targeting of LGBTQIA+ activists by conservative Catholic protesters outside a church where the One Nation leader gave a speech in the last week of the NSW election campaign. Latham returned fire with his highly offensive tweet at mid-morning on Thursday. It was deleted within three hours.

Parliamentary and media colleagues have subsequently condemned Latham, saying his comments were surely those of an unwell man. But Latham wears his bovver boy history of verbal and physical violence with pride: He broke a taxi driver’s arm when a federal Labor back bencher in 2002 and has used Twitter accounts (one on-the-record, and another not acknowledged as owned by him) to abuse women, including, former Australian of the Year, Rosie Batty (whose son, Luke, was murdered by her former partner), and Nine presenter Sarah Abo, and a transgender military officer, Cate McGregor (whom Latham had described derisively as “he/she”).

Pauline Hanson called his latest tweet “disgusting” but she is unlikely to dump Latham. Both know their political careers are shaped and supported by publicity. Until elected to the Senate, Hanson’s handy little earner was standing in state and federal elections when her fame attracted enough votes to qualify for electoral funding.

Latham was already famous when he converted to Hansonism, but it has been Sky News Australia that stoked his rancid celebrity. The television channel must bear some responsibility for aiding and abetting his monstrous persona. Even then, Sky dumped him in 2017 for untoward comments about Kristina Keneally, Wendy Harmer and “gay” high school students, but he returned regularly as a guest. Now Sky commentator Andrew Bolt has banned him and advised him to seek help.

Latham speaks to a small hard core of believers; however, many appear to have turned away. He retained his upper house seat, but his popularity plummeted: One Nation’s NSW upper house vote on Friday’s count had withered by nearly a third, down from 306,933 in 2019 to 211,613. He can bullishly remain on the crossbench for eight years, but his continuing presence will have a stench that will render the rest of his political career null and void.

Premier Chris Minns has skewered the consequences of Latham’s cruel and crude aggression; he called Latham a bigot whose comments “unleash ghouls on people and on a person like Alex [Greenwich] .” For his part, Greenwich said he did not expect the NSW parliament to act: “I would fear that any action would give him any more of a soap box, would allow him to play the victim, where he is someone who victimises people on an ongoing basis.” Which would be a shame. Latham has turned his career into a reviled and shameful thing that dishonours parliament and the people of NSW.

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