Mark Latham is an angry man. And like his trans-Atlantic spirit animal, Donald Trump, he channels that anger into a stockpile of miserable, frothing vendettas, usually against women.
One of the most enduring is his ongoing grudge against domestic violence advocate Rosie Batty. This week he shared his unfounded belief that the 2015 Australian of the Year misused funds as part of her work with the Rosie Batty Foundation, the organisation she set up in the wake of her son Luke’s murder at the hands of his father in 2014.
His latest grievance – the result, he says, of an exhaustive, some might say obsessive, 18-month investigation – was aired on Alan Jones’ program on Radio 2GB in Sydney on October 31.
The Labor leader believed he’d found an irregularity in the foundation’s finances, which he extrapolated into an insinuation that Batty had been dipping her hand in the till. He suggested the organisation couldn’t account for $135,000 in funds. “Any organisation where there’s a treasurer reporting a missing $135,000, you’d have to be concerned,” he said.
The foundation’s chairman, Andrew Fairley, has vehemently denied the insinuations. “I am satisfied that there has been no financial misconduct on the part of Rosie Batty or any others on her behalf,” he told The Australian. “Indeed, the foundation has been the subject of two independent financial audits.” The foundation’s former accountant also denied that the money was missing.
Latham’s repeated slurs against Batty echo those slung at another prominent woman - democratic presidential nominee Secretary Hillary Clinton.
Like Batty, Clinton’s critics are determined to unearth some evidence of misconduct that they seem to just know they’ll find somewhere if they scrabble around in the paperwork for long enough.
Neither Clinton’s emails nor Batty’s finances have shown to be anything other than mundane and unremarkable, yet their detractors carry on, fuelled by an obsessive hatred that even they probably can’t adequately explain.
Actually the explanation, to anyone with an ounce of self-awareness, is obvious.
Both women refuse to behave as women are supposed to behave. Hillary Clinton has committed the unsanctionable crime of pursuing power and refusing to crash into a flood of feminine tears when the going gets tough. Batty, too, has chosen to be loud, forthright and action-focused when it comes to her work preventing violence against women and children, in honour of her son, Luke.
Insecure and vindictive men like Latham, Trump and their supporters loathe strong women like Clinton, who proudly said she didn’t want to “stay home and bake cookies” in her early career, and then had the audacity to shape health policy during her husband Bill’s administration instead of redecorating the Lincoln bedroom. Running for president was the final straw.
Batty, they believe, should be at home sobbing into a handkerchief in mourning weeds instead of purporting herself around the country in such an undignified manner, or, as Latham once put it, “capitalising” on her son’s death.
It’s interesting that Latham didn’t have enough faith in his own “evidence” to commit it to print – instead resorting to a cowardly spray on radio. Perhaps the memory of being turfed from The Australian Financial Review for similarly unhinged attacks on Ms Batty – in both his columns and via an anonymous Twitter account - was too fresh in his mind, and he was reluctant to jeopardise his job as a columnist at The Daily Telegraph. Even he seems to know, on some level, that if you’re going to question someone else’s honesty, you want to be very sure your own is beyond reproach.
Rosie Batty, as her foundation’s chairman told The Australian, is a “powerful and honest voice for good in our community.”
Mark Latham, on the other hand, is a dishonest voice for ugliness in our community. It’s time he did something useful with his life, instead of tearing down women doing something useful with theirs.