Aug 1, 2014

‘Political feminists’ and compulsory voting on Mark Latham’s hit list

"There is no policy oomph from feminist dogma," Mark Latham told the audience at his book launch last night, saying that political feminism was out of touch with mainstream Australian concerns.

Myriam Robin — Media Reporter

Myriam Robin

Media Reporter

The Labor Party has lost touch with mainstream Australian concerns partly through a narrow focus on political feminism, Mark Latham told an audience in Melbourne last night.

The former Labor leader criticised “female Labor MPs who regard the gender prism as a frontline political concern”, saying that it led to no policies of relevance to the broader electorate. He gave the example of Anna Burke, Speaker in the last Parliament, who missed out on an opposition frontbench position. “She said that it’s shameful that in the Victorian Right, there was no female frontbencher. But breaking it down that way — according to gender, geography and factionalism — and thinking everyone has to have a slot … no one cares about this,” he said.

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14 thoughts on “‘Political feminists’ and compulsory voting on Mark Latham’s hit list

  1. AR

    It’s hard to disagree with the intent of the abolition of compulsory voting but I don’t have Latham’s optimism or regard for the average punter.

  2. Tom Jones

    Mark Latham deserves to be ignored. On the one hand he argues for diversity but on the other hand doesn’t see that women are included in that diversity. On any criteria of merit Anna Burke deserves a shadow portfolio. He is nothing but a self publicist who never adds anything of merit. He destroyed Labor’s electoral chances but thinks he knows better than anybody else. The hubris is boring.

  3. pritu

    On feminism – Relevancs deprivation, Mr Latham?
    On compulsory voting, he may have a point, but it is not a straightforward thing as the same forces that bring out the ignoramus voter in favour of three word slogans would work the same lot into high dudgeon about some imagined horror to vote for the moneyed mob.

  4. michael crook

    He is wrong about compulsory voting. His and our job as self professed progressives should be to educate our communities, and ensure that they are aware of political and social realities and to not trust the fantasy world presented by the commercial media and it’s god, consumerism.

  5. Mel Campbell

    “It’s all about quotas and affirmative action, and things that for women in other workplaces are achieved on merit.”

    What an absolute banana. ‘Merit’ is a frickin’ canard. There are EXTREMELY MERITORIOUS WOMEN out there – indeed, women regularly discover that in order to enjoy roughly similar workplace respect and seniority (let alone remuneration) to their male colleagues, they need to be twice as qualified, twice as talented, work twice as hard, sacrifice twice as much, and then they get dismissed as being ‘cold’, ‘aggressive’ and ‘loveless’. Appealing to ‘merit’ basically means ‘I don’t want to recognise institutionalised sexism’.

    In the past Latham has been refreshingly critical of Labor’s faction system, arguing it is the machine that isolates those in the political bubble from the Australian public. Rather than arguing for the abolition of compulsory voting, he’d do better arguing for the abolition of the factional machine, which ensures a government of insiders for insiders, concerned only with incumbency for its own sake rather than representing the concerns of the public.

  6. fractious

    “Under voluntary voting, parties would have to come up with genuine policies that matter to people to encourage them to go out and vote.”

    Britain being a shining example of how well that works in practice.

  7. klewso

    I agree with a lot of what Latham says, not just pro patria.
    Imagine Curtin or Whitlam or Chifley being kept out by “Affirmative Action”? We really need more Thatcher’s, Mirabella’s, Bishop’s, Cash’s, Crossin’s, “Gillard’s” (when he went paddling with the media on that occasion) don’t we? It’s a bit like the returns for women’s professional tennis isn’t it?
    But then he says he doesn’t miss politics – while the political class comprises  ” political operatives and journalists who make their living from political activity” – while profiting by writing about it? 

  8. danger_monkey

    I’m with you fractious.

    I’m an American living in Australia, and let me tell you, the three word slogan rules in US elections, and frequently plays to the lowest emotion.

    Compulsory voting may be no panacea, but it’s better than the other options.

  9. Max Factorius

    Latham is right. And very brave and honest to say it.

    Populist political feminism is a distraction from the essential political issues and serves as a social undercurrent for gender division.

    And he’s right about Gillard. “men with white shirts and blue ties”. A distracting side issue gender driven statement at a time when everything was crashing down around her, but diversive.

    Latham should have focused on the role of the MSM as the community cheer leaders for gender divide.

  10. Alex

    I think Latham’s losing it. His comments about the childless are ‘egregiously’ judgemental. And, compulsory voting reduces nepotism and the influence of lobbiests and vested interests. Just think about the NRA in the US; whenever their interests are threatened they get all their members out to vote knowing there will be few motivated to match them with an opposing vote.

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