The publisher who worked closely with former Labor leader Mark Latham on his memoir says his expletive-laden writer’s festival interview made her feel “abused” and “terrible”.
CEO of Melbourne University Press Louise Adler told ABC’s Q&A program on Monday night that she worked alongside Mr Latham to publish The Latham Diaries in 2005, and seeing his tirade at the Melbourne Writer’s Festival was “very distressing”.
“I felt abused, he was abusive of the audience, certainly abusive of his interviewer,” Ms Adler said.
“[The talk was] a terrible hour for all of us to endure. One can feel compassion or not for him.
“I felt as someone who I worked with, very upset for him. He was absolutely enraged, he was obsessive, he was paranoid, he was teary, it was really watching a man sort of fall apart before you.”
Audience members reportedly left midway through Mr Latham’s Melbourne Writer’s Festival interview on Sunday.
The former Australian Financial Review columnist reportedly abused the audience and the interviewer, Jonathan Green, at the talk.
“This is how I talk in the western suburbs of Sydney in the pub, with my mates at sporting events. And if you don’t like it you can f*** off,” Mr Latham said to one audience member.
“What’s wrong with a bit of unfiltered conversation and the word f***?”
He was forced to leave his role at the AFR due to several controversial columns and alleged tweets about prominent Australian women Rosie Batty and Catherine McGregor, amongst other concerns.
— ABC Q&A (@QandA) August 24, 2015
Author and political journalist Annabel Crabb wasn’t so sympathetic towards Mr Latham, saying she wasn’t shocked by the festival interview tirade.
“Why would that [outburst] be unexpected?” Ms Crabb said. “I thought that was pretty much the genuine person you’re dealing with here.”
“It is not reasonable … He has had more platforms than Waterloo Station.”
— Katie Coulthard (@coulthard_katie) August 24, 2015
The Mark Latham theme continued throughout the night as the panel discussed the impact of former politicians moving into media commentary roles.
Former Independent MP Tony Windsor and former Howard government minister Peter Reith both have commentary roles in retirement.
The pair felt the roles could help the public better understand what happens behind the scenes of government.
“Being a former member of Parliament, you can actually utilise those experiences to look at some quite serious issues so I think it is a good thing actually,” Mr Windsor said.
Former Queensland Premier Anna Bligh, while not a commentator, agreed with Mr Reith and Mr Windsor, calling political commentators’ contributions a “lifting of the veil”.
“You hear from commentators, the better ones and those that actually offer an insight, what it felt like when I was going to through something similar [in political office],” she said.
“These are the pressures on him [the PM for example] because of what happens in his party, and I think that’s a good thing.”
She also spoke about how she would encourage females into public office, despite the difficulties they might face.
“We need the best and brightest, and to get the best and brightest, we need just as many young women to put their hands up as young men, to stay in the political parties long enough to get preselected and go through those sorts of jobs.”
Mr Windsor worked closely with Australia’s first female prime minister Julia Gillard and believed that women make a better fist of the job than men.
“Julia Gillard, to me, was quite an extraordinary individual,” he said.
“I have never seen an individual, man, woman or animal, that was subjected to the issues that she was, particularly in relation to her gender.”
The gaffe that had Twitter talking
Just weeks after the government attacked Q&A and the ABC over the appearance Zaky Mallah in the audience, producers allowed the broadcast of a profane tweet directed at the Prime Minister.
The crude tweet was broadcast during a discussion about writing personal memoirs and biographies.
The government had not responded to the incident publicly when this story was published.