By Daniel Lang - Managing Director
As this week's NSW state election wound down, it became increasingly obvious that Mark Latham, formerly the leader of the federal Labor party and the man who went within whiskers of being prime minister, had earned a seat in the state's legislative assembly.
I'm embarrased and ashamed to call New South Wales my home and the people who live in it my friends, my neighbours, my colleagues and people with whom I share commonality.
Despite what happened in Christchurch, despite the clear and obvious rise in hate speech and white supremacist ideaology and the use of divisive identity politics by those on the right, enough people saw fit to look past that and vote for a man who represents Islamaphobia, who represents mysogyny, a Trump-lite who got kicks out of trolling Rosie Batty.
With the backing of long-time staunch right-wing anti-progressives like Alan Jones, Latham has ended a 14-year drift through the political wilderness and done so by playing up to the racists, the ill-informed and those gullible enough to buy into the rhetoric and so-called 'anti-political correctness' approach of a man who once broke the arm of a taxi driver and defended that by suggesting "every now and then you get into strife on the way home."
Now, a man who should be best described as a constant joke and a warning to people as to what happens when you sit around consuming a daily diet of Fox and Sky News will have a seat in the New South Wales upper house and any immigrant, any transgender person, anyone of colour or even women who say that they don't feel represented by their parliament have a point.
I have little doubt this piece will be followed by comments suggesting that Latham winning a seat is 'part of the democratic process' or that 'he got enough votes so he deserves to be there' but in such close proximity to the crushing of such extreme right-wing idealogies by our mates in Victoria, our state simply looks flustered, insecure and unable to push past fear-based politics and division.
I've never considered Victoria better than New South Wales in any way, much less Melbourne better than the vastly more beautiful if a little under-planned Sydney, but as they continue to make massive strides forward under Daniel Andrews and his government, it's hard to make a case on this one. They'll always be potato scallops, because potato cakes is a ridiculous and terrible stance to take by our friends south of the border, but when it comes to the ballot, maybe we could have learned something.
Make no mistake, returning the Berejiklian government is hard enough to defend on its own, though it was largely expected given the timid showing of the state's Labor party but for someone like Latham to wedge his way back to a spot of meaning in 2019 is a stunning and horrifying reversal of progress.