March 13th 2004

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Has Canberra gone bananas? Has Biosecurity Australia dropped its quarantine standards?

EDITORIAL: The law and the status of marriage

QUEENSLAND: Westons biscuits now in Australian hands

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Band-aids won't solve Australia's ageing problem

STRAWS IN THE WIND : Drawing the line / The smile on the face of the tiger / Pecking order

FAMILY: Social engineering in education system

DRUGS: ACT pulls back from legalised heroin injecting room

Taiwan's necessary referendum (letter)

Islamic societies (letter)

Privatisation and WA's power shortages (letter)

The Latham paradox (letter)

Prevention is better than cure (letter)

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: The culture of life and the United Nations

FAILED SCHOOLS: Is there a way out of the crisis in education?

CHINA: Did Beijing assist nuclear proliferation?

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The Latham paradox (letter)

by Thomas A. Watkin

News Weekly, March 13, 2004

Is Mark Latham the political paradox that he appears to be: an apparent contradiction that really contains a prodigality, or if you like, an abundance of substantive meaning? Is he a true-blue believer in a mix of self-reliant, ladder-climbing enterprise and a moderate level of social welfare, or just another ear-pleasing opportunist bent on the glory of becoming Prime Minister of Australia, which still remains a more lucrative job than most "out there" in the real world?

After reading a recent article, "The new politicians: it's local and it's personal" (The Age, February 19), even the most sceptical would be tempted to give this reformed youngish man, who seems to have muzzled his once crude mouth, the benefit of what may seem like a tantalising doubt.

Mr Latham's pin-striped suits and spruced-up look have, it could be said, added a touch of the debonair which is no load to carry.

Moreover, like the man who realised he would stand for long time before roast duck fly in, Mark Latham has been on the move, taking a bus trip through northern NSW, and holding a community forum at Gosford.

The "tremendous gathering" allowed people to put their concerns to the leader of the Opposition "face to face".

They liked it and he liked it while noting their concerns; which Mr Latham holds is reflective of "mainstream Australia."

Only two out of "31 questions" were about economics, one about foreign policy. The rest were "about people": loneliness, lost identity, stress, breakdown in families and relationships, no sense of belonging, homelessness, aged care, isolation, making the neighbourhood safer, etc. Time well spent, Mr Latham.

Good solid stuff which suggests Mark Latham has a heart and a soul that feels for others who may be hurting, shades of St Vincent de Paul and the Salvation Army - not such a hardheaded tough guy after all.

Thomas A. Watkin,
Burwood, Vic

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