Mark Latham is one of the most unusual and controversial characters in Australian politics. He is brainy, has a scathing wit and has published several books. He became leader of the Australian Labor Party in Federal Parliament – the youngest in over a century — and contested the 2004 election against Liberal Prime Minister John Howard. He lost decisively. Afterwards he resigned from Parliament and became a political commentator.
Latham has made a career out of opposing political correctness. After resigning from the ALP, he joined One Nation, a party whose main appeal to the electorate is opposition to immigration. It is loathed by both of the major parties. In the recent New South Wales election, Latham won a seat in the upper house of NSW for One Nation. This is an excerpt from his maiden speech in the chamber in which he comments on the Israel Folau controversy.
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Despite attempts by both sides of politics to either abolish it or silence it, for nearly two centuries the Legislative Council has, by and large, been a civilising force in New South Wales. …. It has honoured the founding principles of our nation: That progress is possible through parliamentary debate and deliberation; that in a land of hard work and meritocracy every citizen can and should receive a fair go. For all its pitfalls and failings the Legislative Council has always redeemed itself in wanting to extend the reach of Western civilisation and advancement in Australia—until now.
Like so many parts of our politics that have changed quickly in recent times, there are voices here who do not believe in the virtues of the West, who do not acknowledge the nation-building achievements of our culture and our country.
It is a bit like a scene from The Life of Brian, a case of: What has Western civilisation done for us? Only advanced health care and education, architecture, engineering, information technology, free speech and the rule of law. In fact, this Chamber, this Parliament, this city, all our public institutions and the material comforts we take for granted—none of them could exist without the greatness of the West—without the advances that began with the Enlightenment and Industrial Revolution and continue to this day.
Yet still, among the leftist elites, among the social engineers and cultural dieticians, sneering at our civilisation and its achievements has become their new pastime. They preach diversity but practice a suffocating cultural conformity, wanting everyone to be just like them. They argue for inclusion but as soon as a Christian, a conservative, a libertarian, a nationalist, a working-class larrikin, an outsider from the vast suburbs and regions of our nation disagrees with them, they crank up their PC-outrage machine to exclude them from society. They are tolerant of everything except dissenting values and opinions meaning, of course, they are tolerant of nothing that matters, only themselves.
This is the leftist curse through the ages—the recurring history of those who so badly crave control over others they lose control over themselves. In their lust for authority they lose their respect for the rights of others. It is a bit like a scene from Orwell's Animal Farm, the Green-Labor-Left has become the thing it originally opposed—elitist, would-be dictators taking away from working-class communities the things these battlers value: the right to speak their mind; to say they love their country and want Australia Day to stay; to practice their Christianity, openly and freely; to send their children to school without the garbage of Safe Schools, Wear-It-Purple days, “Head Rest” indoctrination and the other crackpot theories making some New South Wales classrooms more like a Hare Krishna meeting than actual education; and when they go to work the chance to do their job without being bombarded by employment quotas, “unconscious bias” training and a long list of unspeakable, taboo words, scary, scary stuff, like “guys” and “mums and dads”.
The New Left are the new primitives of our time, junking the importance of evidence, of recorded history, of biological science, to pretend that all parts of our lives, especially race, gender and sexuality can be fluid, that everything we know and feel around us is, in fact, “socially constructed”, that is what they say, “socially constructed”. They are peddling fake news. We have not been brainwashed by capitalist hegemony as the post‑modernists argue. People know and understand the things they see and feel in their lives. It is called evidence. Our personal characteristics and identities are fixed, not fluid. With few exceptions people are born either male or female.
We should not be confusing young people and risking their mental health by pushing gender fluidity upon them. We should not be taking away from parents their essential role as the primary carers of their children in matters personal and sexual. We should not be changing the purpose of our education system, transforming schools from places of skill and academic attainment into gender fluidity factories. Most of all, we should not be losing sight of the interests of mainstream, majority Australia. In the last national census, for instance, 1,300 Australians identified as transgender. But to listen to the political and media coverage of this issue you would think there were 13 million.
Everywhere I travel parents and grandparents, workers and communities, tell me how concerned they are about Australia's direction. They ask me, “What's happened to our country? Where has this nonsense come from?”
The answer is clear. The leftist project, then and now, is about control. Having with the fall of the Berlin Wall lost the struggle for economic control, the Left got smarter. It shifted from the cold war to a culture war. It moved from pursuing economic Marxism to pushing cultural Marxism. Instead of trying to socialise the means of production, it is now trying to socialise the means of individual expression and belief—our language, our values, our behaviour. Instead of seeking revolution at the top of government, it has marched instead through our institutions—a tactic that is harder to combat.
The elites have been remarkably successful in this cultural invasion. Our abiding national traditions of free speech, merit selection, resilience and love of country are being lost, not just in the public sector—in schools, universities, public broadcasters, major political parties and government agencies—but also in large parts of corporate Australia and the commercial media. The rest of us are the Resistance to this national takeover. Our chief ally is evidence—evidence and human nature. Through the power of reason and enlightenment people want to have a say about the things that are important to them. They want free speech. They want freedom of religion and belief. Australians are also a tough yet fair-minded people. …
The Australian story in settling a harsh and sometimes hostile continent on the other side of the world is one of the most remarkable in human history. Leaders such as Arthur Phillip and Lachlan Macquarie, in little more than a generation, turned a penal colony into a civilisation—building what has now become the best nation on earth. It was achieved through resilience and mateship—the Australian habit of toughing it out and treating others as equals. Jack is as good as his master. It is in our nature to treat people as we find them—to judge them on their individual merit, their work ethic, their community contribution.
This is what makes identity politics—subdividing our people on the basis of race, gender and sexuality—so foreign to the Australian way. Just as the old Soviet Union fell over because human nature wanted economic competition and individual wealth and excellence, I believe these new mutant strains of social control—post-modernism and identity politics—will also fail. They run contrary to the nature and evidence of our lives. …
Like every other Australian, I own my own words; I know what I mean by them. Like so many Australians, I refuse to allow my words to be controlled by strangers—by the elites with their confected outrage and PC censorship. In truth in society, offence is taken, not given. It is a personal choice, based on assumptions about what someone meant by their words. Yet only the person speaking those words truly knows what was meant. As the great John Cleese has pointed out, telling a joke about someone does not mean we hate them. We love the people we joke about. We love the Irish, the blondes, the gays, everyone—as they have helped to bring humour and joy into our lives.
The other problem with political correctness is in knowing what is genuine and what is not. So much of the offenderati, the outrage industry, involves the fabrication of offence—saying that their feelings have been hurt solely for the reason of closing down their political opponents. PC is riddled with these internal contradictions. …
I am not a Christian but I recognise the vital contribution of Christianity to our civilisation: its vast social and charitable work; its teaching of right and wrong in civil society. I stand with Israel Folau.
In his own private time away from his job playing football he is a preacher at his community church and naturally he quotes the Bible. Why would he not? He believes, as millions of people have believed for thousands of years, that sinners go to hell. As per his valid religious faith, he loves the sinner but condemns the sin. Yet for his beliefs, his Christianity, he is not allowed to play rugby, to chase the pigskin around the park. How did our State and our nation ever come to this? I was on Folau's list of sinners, more than once actually. I dread to look at how many times I was listed by his social media postings. But as I do not believe in hell there was no way I could take offence.
Those claiming outrage have fabricated their position solely for the purpose of censorship. This is not an argument about diversity. The Wallabies have no female players, no disabled, no elderly, no middle aged. They are selected from a tiny fraction of the young, fit, athletic male population. By excluding a committed Christian, they are making their game less inclusive.
And as for Folau being a role model for young gay men, one only needs to state this proposition to understand its absurdity. Footballers are not role models for anyone, other than in enjoying their sporting ability. I say to any young person: if you are looking for guidance and inspiration in life, study Churchill, Lincoln, Reagan and Roosevelt, not Todd Carney. …
I believe that no Australian should live in fear of the words they utter. No Australian should be fearful of proclaiming four of the most glorious words of our civilisation: I am a Christian. No-one should be sacked by their employer for statements of genuine belief and faith that have got nothing to do with their job.
The Folau case exposes the new serfdom in the Australian workplace. Who ever would have thought it would come to this, how big companies, the corporate PC-elites are wanting to control all aspects of their employees' lives—their religious and political views, how they speak and think, how they behave, even in their own time well away from the workplace? This is a stunning intrusion on workers' rights. Yet far from condemning the new serfdom, Labor and the trade unions have been cheering it on.
Mark Latham MLC is Leader of Pauline Hanson's One Nation in New South Wales and a former leader of the Federal Parliamentary Australian Labor Party.