With the
federal opposition falling further behind in the polls, the government
set to dominate the Senate, and former leader Mark Latham about to dump
on Labor, Opposition leader Kim Beazley has declared that the situation
isn’t dire.

Labor is still in charge in every state and
territory, says Beazley, and it succeeded in holding Latham’s
electorate of Werriwa with a swing of 10%. The party’s federal wing is
looking to the future, he says. “Things aren’t that bad to tell you the
honest truth,” he told Channel Nine today. “We hold all the state
governments and we have done that for the last few years. What I am
doing is focusing on the future.”

Really? The longer term
future, no doubt. Last Friday’s reshuffle seems to have been almost as
long in the making – and gone down just as well – as the new frontbench
team Mark Latham pulled together after last October’s election loss.
Beazley’s authority looks as strong as Latham’s did back then.

And speaking of Iron Mark, Bernard Lagan’s book Loner: Inside a Labor Tragedy is out this Wednesday. Amazingly, it’s being launched by John Faulkner – Latham’s respected Senate leader. When he stepped down from the job,
everybody took it as a “more in sorrow than anger” decision. Once
rested – once he’d recovered from dealing with Dilbert – they expected
him to be back.

We put a simple query to Faulkner’s media
adviser this morning: “Why?” She promised to pass it on to the Senator.
No response. Faulkner may well have a detailed post-mortem to deliver –
and a eulogy for the corpse.

And there are some interesting media dynamics here, too. Steve Lewis from The Australian has had all the yarns on the book, but Lagan has been packaged up as a “former Sydney Morning Herald” journalist. He’s now with The Bulletin, which has secured rights to the excerpts.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey