Keith Wheeler’s Wheeler’s Wisdom | OPINION, May 15, 2017

HE SUPPORTS “measures to sensibly reduce the size of government and put some inventive back into the private economy.”

Before the 2004 election, opinion polls gave him exactly the same “winning” margin that Shorten and Labor currently enjoy.

The “handshake” episode with Prime Minister John Howard sealed Latham’s fate as Labor leader, and I for one, was very relieved that he didn’t ever become Prime Minister. 

But this week Latham announced on The Bolt Report that he had joined David Leyonhjelm’s Liberal Democrats.

So in Budget week I think the news that Latham is back, and may even again be a political force, was allowed to pass without being noted as a potentially explosive moment in Australian politics.

Tony Abbott’s nemesis, Nikki Savva, quotes “a senior Labor man” who said that when he was standing next to Latham he could hear a ticking sound.

He knew it wasn’t his watch!

Latham was recently sacked from his Sky News position after a clash with Kristina Keneally and others.

He can certainly be over-the-top in his comments, but of course, television is entertainment as well as news.

Anyone who knows Keneally’s role in convincing the Labor Party to adopt unrealistic renewable energy targets would understand that she is a greater electoral liability to Labor than Latham ever was.

Latham has resurrected himself as a clear and rational thinker, who says what he believes without fear or favour.

Without the mealy-mouthed political correctness of our leaders, Latham says what needs to be said, but perhaps too bluntly. 

He writes occasional columns for The Daily Telegraph.

In one article last year he wrote praising earlier Labor governments, but also perhaps hinting at his new Liberal Democrat beliefs. “Keating and Hawke reversed this trend (government intervention), putting their faith in private-sector growth through trade liberalisation, financial deregulation and national competition policy.

The result was the greatest economic boom in Australian history, with all parts of society enjoying big increases in real disposable incomes.”

Criticising Shorten earlier this month, he wrote, “The only sustainable pathway to economic growth is through people working smarter and harder, making Australia more efficient and internationally competitive… We need lower taxes, greater financial incentive and higher productiviy.”

Latham’s right, isn’t he?

On social policy he wrote, “There’s much work to be done in bringing Australians together: in making us one people, not a series of warring racial, gender and sexuality tribes.”

“Shorten and his frontbench have allowed left-wing nonsense to wreck the credentials of what was once Australia’s most credible party … the ALP now judges social issues by skin colour, gender, sexuality and religion … Its policies are based on separatism … destroying the original intent of multiculturalism and indigenous reconciliation … identity politics is pushing people apart.”

Perhaps justifying his move to the Liberal Democrats, Latham says, “Labor is no longer a viable force for economic growth and social justice.”

Latham is hard-talking, and politically incorrect.

My bet is that he will contest a Senate seat, and will win.

KEITH WHEELER, www.dailyadvertiser.com.au