Advertisement

Here's How Mark Latham Got Back In Parliament, If You Were Wondering

One of Australia's most divisive political figures has completed a comeback after nearly 15 years on the sidelines.

Counting continues in the NSW election, but former federal Labor leader Mark Latham seems set to secure an eight-year term in the NSW Upper House for One Nation.

He's heading back into public office after running a campaign on addressing immigration, electricity prices, congestion and "political correctness".

Most recently -- and to intense public scrutiny and widespread outrage -- Latham suggested forcing Aboriginal people on government payments to undergo DNA testing.

“For free speech, for merit selection, resilience, love of country, all of it under siege from the left," he said when announcing his candidacy last year.

What Latham's return to office will mean for NSW governance is yet to be determined, and will depend on whether the government needs his vote to pass legislation through the Upper House -- that mathematical formula will be figured out once all the votes are counted and the exact makeup of the upper house is locked in.

His presence, however, will likely be hard to dismiss.

Mark Latham. Photo: AAP.

"I suspect what he will be used and will be much more notable for is advancing the One Nation agenda that he is so enthusiastically embraced in recent times," Monash University's Dr Zareh Ghazarian told 10 daily.

"He's a high profile individual coming from a controversial party. He will be generating a lot of interest every time parliament sits and every time there is some policy debated."

One Nation, Three Parties

Latham entered politics in 1994, winning the NSW federal seat of Werriwa. In 2003, he became leader of the opposition, and the youngest Labor Party leader since federation.

In the 2004 federal election, he led Labor to defeat, sharing an infamous and handshake with then-prime minister John Howard. Feel free to Google it.

NSW One Nation leader Mark Latham speaks to the media at the launch of his Save Australia Day campaign in Sydney. Image: AAP

Since quitting parliament the following year, the 58-year-old has walked an often controversial path through politics and media, and now back into elected office.

He left his job as a columnist with the Australian Financial Review amid controversy over a number of widely-condemned claims -- including criticising Australian of the Year Rosie Batty and other anti-violence campaigners for, among other things, using their campaign "for political reasons".

Latham spent some time with Channel Nine which included bailing up Julia Gillard on camera for 60 Minutes, and appearing as a guest on a late night panel show where he argued  "I could walk through any street in western Sydney and no one would find 'Negro' offensive".

He was later given his own  talk show on Sky News, 'Outsiders', but his contract was terminated by the broadcaster in 2017 after he said on air that a high school student who featured in an International Women's Day video was "gay".

A month later, he joined the Liberal Democrats. That new affiliation led to him being banned from the Labor Party. He left the Lib Dems a year later, and has now found a home with Pauline Hanson.

Image: AAP
The Road From Here

Latham announced he would head up Pauline Hanson's One Nation Legislative Council ticket in November last year, kicking off one of Australia's most unexpected political marriages.

But will it last?

"One Nation's track record when it comes to organisation and cohesion suggests that the next few months will be critical in terms of whether Latham remains in One Nation or whether he breaks away," Ghazarian said.

"Latham’s history of jumping from party to party suggests that it’s going to be really hard work for One Nation and for Latham to work together in a more cohesive manner than they have in the past."

Following the November announcement, Latham left Hanson flying solo during a Studio 10 appearance the pair were scheduled to attend.

The on-air debacle was an early indication of the potentially rocky road ahead for the partnership. With Latham now in the state parliament for an eight-year term, he seems set to stay in the public and political eye for the foreseeable future.