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Plot thickens in One Nation soap opera as Mark Latham takes a bow

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Left to right: Mark Latham, James Ashby, Pauline Hanson (Image by Dan Jensen)

Pauline Hanson’s One Nation (PHON) is delivering yet another episode in what has been one of Australia’s longest-running soap operas.

It may be the penultimate.

It is a truth that as soaps wear down, shark jumping ramps up. So it is with PHON and the ramp known as Mark Latham.

The same guy who was out-gripped by John Howard all those tears ago.

We open the latest episode with a touching scene:

“When I came across Mark Latham five years ago he was a broken man. He’d been out of the parliament for a very long time,” Mr Ashby told Sky News host Andrew Bolt.

 

“His marriage was failing. He has cried on numerous occasions with me as we discussed him coming across to One Nation.”

And come across he did.

By the first ad break in 2018, Latham had been appointed as NSW leader of PHON and by 2019 had ridden its coattails to a NSW senate seat. So far so good.

But it is soon revealed the real head of PHON, James Ashby, is gay and Mark Latham is a homophobe.

Tension builds.

Viewers are not provided the immediate backroom scenes, but “brutal” probably sums it up.

In 2023 it exploded:

‘Video has emerged showing LGBTQ protesters pleading with police to be escorted to safety as they are surrounded by hundreds of people outside a church where One Nation NSW leader Mark Latham was speaking in Sydney’s south-west.’

Then, soon after:

‘Independent member for Sydney Alex Greenwich said targeting the LGBTQ community during a state election is cruel and lazy politics and accused Latham of fuelling hate.’

Mate, no one fucking accuses me of fuelling hate.

Greenwich subsequently went another step:

‘“Mark Latham is a disgusting human being and people who are considering voting for One Nation need to realise they are voting for an extremely hateful and dangerous individual who risks causing a great deal of damage to our state.”

Fightin’ words!

Seems like the red curtain descended.

Latham responded with his usual wit and discretion:

“Disgusting? How does that compare with sticking your dick up a bloke's arse and covering it with shit?”

This is where the shark jumping comes in.

It’s just too far, even for Gogglebox.

There was, of course, a woke outcry.

Mark responded in an interview with the spectrum’s favourite read, Murdoch’s Daily Telegraph:

Sometimes in public life when you throw out insults they come back at you harder and truer... So boo-hoo, Alex Greenwich.

 

When he calls someone a disgusting human being for attending a meeting in a church hall, maybe attention will turn to some of his habits.

 

Greenwich goes into schools talking to kids about being gay. I didn’t want to be accused of anything similar, leaving that kind of content on my socials.

The lead female character in this long-running series, Pauline Hanson, immediately upbraided Latham:

‘The One Nation leader, Pauline Hanson, has called on Mark Latham to apologise for comments about the sexuality of fellow state MP Alex Greenwich” that left the New South Wales Environment Minister, Penny Sharpe, “physically sickened”.’

It is moot as to whether Pauline felt at all sickened.

What is not moot is that James Ashby, Pauline’s chief of staff, is a gay man and therefore also subject to Latham’s revulsion.

Also not moot is that James Ashby effectively runs One Nation, the leading lady having been sidelined yonks ago without her even knowing it.

So, we had a situation where Latham was effectively calling the head of the party “disgusting”.

Greenwich’s Statement of Claim contains evidence of tweets and other correspondence from One Nation supporters backing Mark’s approach.

Just one example:

‘A Tweet by the Twitter user @benofbrisbane1 dated 31 March 2023, “Good on ya mark, stick it right up ‘em. Well, not literally! [turd emoji and laughing, crying emoji]”.’

What we have here is a clearly untenable situation.

Not to mention a possible supporter schism:

Australian Racing Greyhound, authored by Josh Spasaro, published 31 March 2023 at 2:38 PM, with the headline, “Will greyhound fans support Mark Latham after vile tweet?”’

Something had to give.

And it was Mark:

The party’s federal leader, Hanson, confirmed her national executive’s decision to replace its NSW division and declare Latham’s position as NSW parliamentary leader vacant.

 

A spokesperson for Hanson said a decline in the party’s performance at the March 2023 NSW election warranted a review of the “relationship between the organisation and parliamentary wings of the party”.

As is his wont, Mark came out swinging:

Mark Latham has quit One Nation, alleging the party attempted to misuse more than $270,000 from the New South Wales Electoral Commission Fund.

 

The controversial MP was joined by colleague Rod Roberts as he left the party on Tuesday, a week on from a fight over the NSW branch with federal leader Pauline Hanson.

Senator Roberts, ex-cop and real estate agent, is Deputy President of the NSW Legislative Council as well as controlling a few committees, so he gets listened to.

According to SBS News:

‘Allegations One Nation leader Pauline Hanson's office improperly funnelled money into its federal coffers will be reviewed by the Electoral Commission.’

Mark knew exactly what hand grenade he was throwing and where he was throwing it.

Actually, it was more of a precise drone strike.

Straight into 17/109 Holt St, Eagle Farm.

Ross Jones is IA investigations editor and the author of 'Ashbygate: The Plot to Destroy Australia's Speaker'. You can follow Ross on Twitter @rpzjones_fin.

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