leader? Just apply spit and polish, by Suzanne Carbone
3rd December 2003
He's the bovver boy from western Sydney who called
John Howard an arse licker and is now after his job.
Mark Latham's larrikin persona is central to his appeal
as a working-class man who understands the battlers,
so the advice from the image experts is: don't tamper
with the format, but a small makeover won't go astray.
Rod Cameron, managing director of ANOP, said Mr Latham
was elected "warts and all" and should not
change, but he needed to develop the other side of
his personality as former prime minister Bob Hawke
did. "Latham's been elected because he's a left-field,
high-risk, warts-and-all, crazy, brave leader,"
Mr Cameron said. "You don't want to change that,
but add the other side.
came in as leader as a drunken, loutish womaniser
and said, 'That's what I am, but I'm also this: possessed
with fine judgement, a very good leader, moderate
when required, calm and authoritative under pressure.'
agent and ALP fund-raiser Max Markson, who organised
the 2001 function that Mr Latham attended before breaking
the arm of a taxi driver, said the new Labor leader
did not need any tweaking because he would be automatically
transformed by the job. "The mantle of leadership
will give him a new aura and presence," Mr Markson
said. "That added responsibility will automatically
soften the edges."
Markson also likened Mr Latham to Mr Hawke, and Australian
Test captain Ricky Ponting, who had colourful pasts
but settled into leadership roles. "Ricky Ponting
was seen as a larrikin and now he's cricket captain.
Bob Hawke was famous for skolling a yard of beer and
having a world record for that when at Oxford."
Markson said Mr Latham's gift of the gab was reminiscent
of another former prime minister. "Paul Keating
had a wonderful use of language and turn of phrase,
and I think Latham has that same quality."
agent Harry M. Miller said Mr Latham needed a slight
personality "tidy up". "He needs a
bit of tidy up in his head, and perhaps occasionally
in his mouth," Mr Miller said. "I'm sure
his heart is OK, it just needs a dust."
Model Agency chief executive Peter Chadwick said Mr
Latham did not need an emergency makeover as seen
on television's Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, but
he could benefit from a stylist's advice. "Possibly
new glasses and a different hairstyle," Mr Chadwick
said, adding that his suits were appropriate. "He's
got that larrikin persona so you can't whack him into
designer suits and change that whole image."
M Miller Group