After months of speculation, former Labor leader (well, former a lot things) Mark Latham has confirmed he’s joining Pauline Hanson’s One Nation. Latham will stand as a One Nation candidate for the upper house at the next New South Wales election.
So, the woman who could not bear to share the spotlight with a figure as charismatic, outspoken and high-profile as Brian Burston has hired one of the few men who have been able to talk too forcefully for Sky After Dark to keep them on. Wondering how this will go? Let’s take a look at the last few years in the lives of one of Australia’s most frequent job-seekers, and one of Australia’s least loyal employers.
We can skip his troubled exit from the Labor leadership — 2015 is when Latham really made a habit of losing gainful employment.
Australian Financial Review
Latham worked for the AFR as a columnist for years, but attracted wide condemnation in 2015 after directing significant criticism to domestic violence campaigner and survivor Rosie Batty (whose son was murdered by her husband) for taking paid speaking roles as part of her campaigning, and referring to transgender cricket commentator and Army reserve group Catherine McGregor as “he/she”. Though his editor publicly defended him, Latham eventually resigned.
Melbourne Writers’ Festival
OK, so Latham wasn’t precisely an employee of MWF, but it’s fair to assume that after his grotesque, profanity-strewn performance at the 2015 Melbourne Writers’ Festival a few days after he left the Fin, he’s not being asked back. Ditto The Verdict — the panel show he starred in, notable for its confirmation that he was indeed behind the harassment of Batty via @RealMarkLatham and his defence of the word “negro”. It was cancelled after eight episodes.
Latham continued with his fixation on Batty and domestic violence in general. In 2016, there were calls for his sacking from a Triple M podcast for repeating his accusation that Batty was cashing in on the death of her son, and going a step further, describing domestic violence as a “coping mechansim” that men turn to when they have “lost their self esteem”. Network head Mike Fitzpatrick made it clear that Latham’s involvement was “a one-off”.
Latham then landed where many hard-right figures of fading relevance come to rest on their way down: Sky News after 7pm. Latham set about attacking his colleagues Peter van Onselen and Kristina Keneally, ridiculing PVO’s wife’s role as a diversity officer and calling Keneally “Eddie Obeid’s protégé”. This wasn’t what did him in though — it took weird speculation on the sexuality of a high school student in an advert about gender equality to get him sacked.
The Liberal Democrats
After joining libertarian Bond villain David Leyonhjelm in the Liberal Democrats, Latham managed a relatively amicable separation by Latham’s febrile standards. He quit in September of this year (just over a year after joining), saying in a letter to the party that he had been “advised to run elsewhere”.
We’ve had to be slightly summary with our list of falling outs, resignations and firings — for a complete list of spurned former co-workers during the ’90s, check out Kerry-Anne Walsh’s Hoodwinked, or this piece from Amy Remeikis. Like Latho, we’re sticking to her last couple of years.
Nearly everyone in WA and Queensland
Hanson had a raft of candidates who either quit or were dis-endorsed by the party before the disastrous showing at the March 2017 state election in WA. This came as a result of them going up against the “brutal dictatorship” of Hanson’s leadership, and/or by being hilariously shambolic in and of themselves. Wouldn’t you know it, another raft of Queensland candidates suffered the exact same fate a year later.
Fraser Anning, before he became our very own Oswald Mosley, was most famous for being the most One Nation senator it’s possible to be — a man with fewer than 20 votes to his name, facing bankruptcy charges who was ousted from One Nation before he could even be sworn in.
Western Australia’s self-styled “Senator in Exile”, Rod Culleton could teach Latham a thing or two about losing your job, managing to do it in about four distinct ways. One of the earliest victims of the great section 44 purge, Culleton breached it twice. He not only violated sub section (iii) by being declared bankrupt in December 2016, but also breached (ii) on account of having been convicted of larceny — a charge that carries a sentence of more than a year.
That turned out to be irrelevant though. Five days before he was declared bankrupt, he resigned from PHON citing “un-Australian behaviour towards [himself] and [his] team”. Hanson, having told him she was the boss several times, on television, replied that he was a “pain in the backside” and she was “glad to see the back of him”.
The first signs that perhaps all was not well between Burston and his boss came earlier this year when Ten Daily‘s Josh Butler picked up that all One Nation references were being erased from his social media profiles. He was then ditched as party whip — a role he’d held since 2016. Things swiftly decayed from there.
Hanson tearfully accused Burston of stabbing her in the back on Sky — first by voting in favour of tax cuts she had recently supported, and then trying unsuccessfully to defect to the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party. Within days, he was gone.
How long do you give the happy couple? Guesses to [email protected].