Mark Latham’s Resignation Statement

The Leader of the Opposition, Mark Latham, has resigned as Labor leader and as the member for Werriwa.

The announcement was delivered to the media in a park at Ingleburn. Latham drove himself to the conference and left alone. He refused to take questions.

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This is the transcript of Mark Latham’s resignation statement.

Mark Latham, former Leader of the OppositionA number of colleagues have asked me to address the uncertainty concerning the Labor leadership. While I had planned to reassess things at the end of my leave period on 26 January, the ongoing speculation is damaging the Party and needs to be dealt with now.

Obviously I am disappointed with the press coverage over the last fortnight. Despite being on annual leave and recovering from illness, the media have been constantly camped outside our home.

In recent days, I have been able to get away to rest and recover and talk to my family about our priorities for the future. Our conclusion is that I should look after my health and pursue a normal life outside of politics. Therefore I have decided to resign both as Labor Leader and Member for Werriwa.

I have had a well-publicised problem with pancreatitis that has been hard to overcome. This condition and the uncertain timing of the attacks are incompatible with the demands and stresses of a parliamentary life.

When I was hospitalised in August, for instance, the media frenzy was over the top, with photographers shooting through my hospital window. Accordingly, I have done everything I could to keep subsequent episodes as private as possible.

Unfortunately ever since the recent bout became known, and even though I was on annual leave, the media has been harassing people in our street, forcing our neighbours to call the police on several occasions.

Obviously this situation cannot continue. Public office can take it out of people and, after 17 years and two serious life-threatening illnesses, the time has come to put my family and my health first. While it is important to try to help people through community involvement, this should not be at the expense of loved ones.

I am exceptionally fortunate to have a fantastic family, especially my beautiful wife and two little boys. I would be crazy to put this at risk. In politics everyone talks about family values. I would like to practice them in a normal way.

I want to thank the Labor party for the opportunity of leading it to the last election and trying to form a Labor Government. I hope that my colleagues can achieve this vital goal in the future and I wish them well.

I am proud that, even from opposition, we achieved some important reforms in 2004, such as the reform of parliamentary superannuation, changes to the US trade agreement, improved childhood immunisation, a baby care payment and placing the importance of early childhood development on the national agenda. I did my best to lead a genuinely progressive Australian Labor Party.

I wish to thank the people of Werriwa for the opportunity of representing them since 1994 and putting something back into our local community.

I also thank the local Labor party members and particularly my staff, who have worked so hard both in the electorate and in Parliament House.

I again thank the Labor supporters and members who backed our cause in the last campaign and gave me encouragement as Labor Leader.

Thank you all very much.

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