One Nation’s New South Wales MLC Mark Latham has achieved a lot in his time on Earth. He is, for example, the only former Labor leader to have the subheading “Incident at Hungry Jack’s” on his Wikipedia page. He also has an amazing super power: no one else with parliamentary privilege so regularly gets into trouble for their inflammatory (and occasionally defamatory) comments.

Firstly, as we’ve noted before, there’s an impressive collection of things he’s tweeted, written, said and shouted that caused him problems, time and again, with his various employers between parliamentary stints.

Then, back in August last year, Latham tweeted accusations that University of NSW student Mohamed Nizamdeen was “plotting to kill senior federal MPs and blow up Sydney Opera House and police/train stations”. Nizamdeen was at the time facing terrorism charges, owing to the discovery of a notebook that contained plans to attack Sydney landmarks and plots to kill former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and former deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop.

As it turned out, Latham had affixed himself to a story that was already plenty bizarre without him; the plot was a fake, with police instead charging Arsalan Khawaja — the brother of Australian test cricketer Usman Khawaja — who had allegedly framed Nizamdeen, jealous of his relationship with a woman they both knew. Latham’s tweets stayed online for months after Nizamdeen was cleared, but in April he finally tweeted an “unreserved apology” to Nizamdeen. It wasn’t enough, clearly, with news coming through yesterday that the matter had finally been settled, an amount speculated to be “more than $100,000“.

This all follows, of course, the truly sublime defamation case between Latham and ABC Life deputy editor Osman Faruqi, after Latham accused Faruqi of “anti-white racism”. If you’ve not already, give yourself a TGIF treat and check out Latham’s 76-page response to Faruqi’s two-page claim. It features, among its many highlights, the contention that Faruqi, “by his various utterances and conduct … portrayed Latham as a person whose literary tastes and interests do not rise above the level of providing manual sexual stimulation to horses”.

Again Latham settled, and again, it was estimated to be in excess of $100,000. Before you laugh too hard, remember, you paid for all this.

Peter Fray

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