Latham points out Albanese's problem
Anthony Albanese's links to disgraced former NSW Labor minister Ian Macdonald should rule him out of contention for the Labor leadership, says former Labor Leader Mark Latham.PT3M37S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2ufq3 620 349 September 26, 2013
Labor may be insisting that its days of personal attacks and bitter infighting over leadership are behind it, but it appears Mark Latham did not get the memo.
The caucus and party membership have no choice but to vote ABA: Anyone But Albo.
The former Labor leader and perennial heckler has launched a withering attack on wannabe leader, Anthony Albanese, calling him an ''intellectual lightweight'' and arguing that Labor needed to vote ABA - or ''anyone but Albo''.
Anthony Albanese (left) and Bill Shorten during Tuesday night's leadership debate. Photo: Marco Del Grande
In the wake of Labor's election loss earlier this month, Labor MPs have widely concurred that Labor needs to stop talking about itself, while Mr Albanese and Bill Shorten have so far been at pains to conduct a leadership contest that is free from the nastiness that characterised the Rudd and Gillard years.
But Mr Latham has broken the self-imposed detente in a column in the Australian Financial Review on Thursday, writing that ''the caucus has deluded itself into thinking if everyone is nice to each other [for a couple of weeks] the big issues will go away''.
The former member for Werriwa, who took Labor to the 2004 federal election before resigning in January 2005, said that instead of seeking a mandate for major policy and organisational change, Mr Shorten and Mr Albanese have been ''paralysed by conservatism''.
"Albanese's political instincts are terrible": Mark Latham. Photo: AFR
''So far, the leadership contest between Bill Shorten and Anthony Albanese has resembled a Nimbin MardiGrass festival, spaced out on mutual love and unreality.''
Mr Albanese and Mr Shorten are currently campaigning for the Labor leadership under a new system where Labor members as well as the caucus get a vote.
On Thursday, Mr Shorten suggested he was likely to win the caucus vote but would not predict how the membership vote - where Mr Albanese is favoured - would turn out.
''I don't know how anyone could predict the outcome of the ballot for the membership of the party,'' Mr Shorten told ABC Radio.
''We'll have to see how the caucus members vote. A majority of them have indicated to me that they support me but this is a process also involving party members.''
After criticising the campaign so far, Mr Latham goes on to tear strips off Mr Albanese in his column, arguing that when the former deputy prime minister launched his campaign in Sydney last week, he ''gave one of the worst speeches in recent Labor history''.
''It was a throwback to the 1960s, a narrow, insular pitch to the party's ever-shrinking industrial base. He had nothing to say about fiscal policy or boat people drownings. Other than in his transport portfolio, it is clear Albanese has not thought in any depth about public policy. He's an intellectual lightweight,'' Mr Latham writes.
The former Labor leader - who has previously labelled Mr Rudd a ''once-in-a-century egomaniac'' - went on to declare that Mr Albanese has been wrong on ''every significant issue over the past decade''.
''In effect, Albanese's political instincts are terrible. If he wins next month's leadership ballot, he will be a case study in inner-city, left-wing bunkum. His close links to [former NSW MP Ian] Macdonald will be electoral suicide for Labor.''
''The caucus and party membership have no choice but to vote ABA: Anyone But Albo.''
When contacted by Fairfax Media about Mr Latham's column, Mr Albanese's office had no comment.
But Mr Albanese responded via Twitter, posting: ''So [union leader] Joe de Bruyn thinks I'm "rabid" on sexuality issues and Mark Latham thinks I don't have Leadership skills ........''
In the aftermath of the 2013 election, Mr Latham said that former attorney-general Mark Dreyfus should be Labor leader, arguing the party needed someone who had had a ''real life outside of politics''.
''If you took that logical, objective criteria, there's only one person who could possibly match it and that's Mark Dreyfus, the outgoing Attorney-General,'' he told ABC Radio.
''Now, [Mr Dreyfus] won't be running for the Labor leadership because he's not part of the gang. That's the sad thing about Labor Party - that objectively the person who could present a new face, a new outlook, won't even be thought of. We're going to go back to, what, Shorten: union, union, union. Or Albanese: warlord, warlord, warlord.''
The membership vote closes on October 9 at 5 pm. The Labor caucus will then meet on October 10 for its vote, before the result is announced on October 13.
On Thursday, Mr Albanese will campaign in Canberra, while Mr Shorten is in Adelaide.