The twists, turns, back flips and screeching halts of Australia’s political scene were already enough to give the average voter vertigo – then up steps Mark Latham.
Just when we thought we’d heard it all, comes news the former Labor leader had joined Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party and will run for an upper house spot in the NSW election in March 2019.
Mr Latham was, of course, the federal Labor leader between 2003 to 2005. He fought the 2004 election, and despite being widely expected to trounce John Howard, simply didn’t deliver.
That election actually delivered the Coalition control of the Senate, despite widely held expectations about Labor's chances.
Since leaving the leadership, Mr Latham’s become best known for his outspoken opinions.
The Latham Diaries, published in 2005, lifted the lid on the “insider” life in Canberra and set its author on course of media commentary that can best be described as erratic.
Mr Latham has started – and lost – a number of commentary gigs in both print and on-air media and become best known for his outspoken style.
Given the whirligig style of his media career, it is perhaps no surprise that Mr Latham’s politics are quite similar.
Having gone from the great hope of Labor to its pariah, he joined the Liberal Democrats in 2017, a move that saw him slapped with a lifetime ban from the party he had once led.
Mr Latham lasted a year with the Liberal Democrats before quitting because no agreement could be reached about where he would best fit and his attempts to get on to the party’s senate ticket fizzled.
Since then, there has been increasing speculation about him teaming up with One Nation.
Aside from the obvious question of whether One Nation is big enough to accommodate two personalities as over-the-top as Mr Latham and Ms Hanson, we also need to be asking what is wrong with Australian politics that could see the man once seen as firmly rooted in the left of the political spectrum making such a leap to a right-wing party.
Has politics become so shallow, so cynical that attempts at serving the community are now giving way to obvious self-interest?
Mr Latham has argued that he is joining One Nation to fight for what he calls “civilisation values”.
“This is a fight for civilisational values. For free speech, for merit selection, resilience, love of country, all of them under siege from the left. And a lot of it is happening in state politics as much as federal,” he said a radio interview.
“I’m in a position and a stage in life where I just can’t stand on the sideline talking about it. I want to get it stuck in as a legislator, as a parliamentarian, to give more exposure for the need for the fight.”
The self-serving party-hopping of our politicians, particularly on the federal scene, has become so rife that only the most naive – or rusted-on – supporter could fail to view the whole political scene with a degree of scepticism.
Perhaps Mr Latham is genuine in his motives. Perhaps, having chalked up more life experience his views have changed, and he feels he has more to contribute to public life.
Sadly, however genuine his motives might be, the impression is of a bloke who is suffering from relevance deprivation or looking for a new source of income.
The self-serving party-hopping of our politicians, particularly on a federal scene, has become so rife that only the most naive – or rusted-on – supporter could fail to view the whole political scene with a degree of scepticism.
There would be many of our MPs who have stood for election with the genuine desire to serve the community.
But there are probably just as many who are looking to get into politics to benefit no one but themselves, and this is where the rot has set in.
We don’t need self-flagellation from our elected representatives, but it would be nice to see evidence of more motivation to better serve the community and less self-interest.
For now, I guess we have give Mr Latham the benefit of the doubt and watch with interest as he begins to fight for those “civilisation” issues he says have drawn him back into the political fray.
How long this latest alliance will last, however, is anyone’s guess.