The Canberra Times
has got to be
one of Australia’s most inward looking newspapers, pitched at a diminishing
demographic of public servants of a certain age, education, seniority and
mindset. To compound matters, it puts sod all online.

It’s a pity, because The Canberra Times has
some cracking op-ed pieces – like those by Jack Waterford, who tackled The
Latham Diaries
on the weekend.

Waterford wrote how Latham, despite his whinging, didn’t do it tough: “He
faced none of the adversity of, say, a John Howard (who could write the book on
both giving and receiving treachery), a John Gorton or a Robert Menzies. Or
from the Labor side of things, a James Scullin, a John Curtin or a Bill

Good point – but it’s Waterford’s
conclusion that really makes you sit up. He compares Iron Mark with another
young Turk – one P Costello;

There’s no doubting his ability – like
there was no doubting Latham’s. But he, too, has never encountered much of
adversity, defeat, humiliation, rejection and it shows every day in the
character and public face he presents.

Even a good deal of the
will-he-or-won’t-he or the has-he-or-hasn’t-he-got-the-guts stuff about the
Oedipal necessities of his position reflect his own party’s awareness that he
has not had to fight his way to his position, or shown his mettle after

As with Latham, indeed, most people do not
even have any idea of what he actually stands for: it is his sneer rather than
his enthusiasm that most immediately comes into the public mind.

And, I suspect, it would be by this
tantrum if it is all taken away from him – if we (or his party) fail to live up
to his expectations – that he may in time be remembered, if at all.

Just as with Mark Latham.

Peter Fray

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