April 22, 2004


Being a rapper and all, maybe Mark Latham is just sampling:

Opposition leader Mark Latham today denied he had plagiarised a speech by former United States president Bill Clinton, after Liberal frontbencher Tony Abbott yesterday accused him of doing so.

A speech Mr Latham delivered to a Global Foundation lunch in Sydney on Tuesday, setting proposed national targets for learning, showed similarities to Mr Clinton's State of the Union address in 1997, the government has said.

But Mr Latham today denied his speech was the same.

"My targets are more ambitious and broader than the ones Bill Clinton outlined in 1997," Mr Latham told Adelaide radio station 5AA.

Hit the links and judge for yourself. This isnít the first time Latham has been accused of presidential plagiarism; Andrew Bolt discovered an earlier example last December:

"Delegates, you hear some funny things in politics," he confided. "When I became leader, some in the media were asking: where did he get that expression, 'the ladder of opportunity'?

"Well, I didn't have to look too far. It comes from a place called Green Valley. It comes from who I am and where I've been."

In fact, Latham didn't even have to go back to Green Valley, his childhood home in western Sydney, to find his ladder.

He just needed to flip open a book of Ronald Reagan's famous speeches. And there it was -- "ladder of opportunity", used by this conservative president in his speech to accept the Republican nomination in 1980, in his State of the Union addresses in 1986 and 1988, and in a radio address to the nation in 1986.

Posted by Tim Blair at April 22, 2004 12:22 PM

"It would be foreign to every instinct in my body to walk into this House and give a speech on behalf of the people of Werriwa that I had lifted from someone elseís ideas. I would be ashamed of that practice and would immediately apologise to the House."

House of Representatives Hansard 28 May 1996

Posted by: 9C at April 22, 2004 at 12:26 PM

Yep, this would have him up on charges of misconduct at my (Oz) university. While they are not direct quotes, per se, the pattern--not merely the individual instances--indicates they are not his original thoughts, despite his claiming them as his own. At the very least, he should have had the professionalism, not to mention decency, to attribute them correctly. But then, he can't admit, can he, that he has few, if any original ideas, but simply serves up a mishmash of others' hard work and ingenuity, regardless of appropriateness or context. He's not that sort of bloke.

Posted by: lms at April 22, 2004 at 12:40 PM

As long as he's following Ronald Reagan and the better parts from Clinton, I don't care if he recites their speeches by rote and neither will most Australians.

Here's some more Marky, read it and learn it off by heart:

Over the last four years, we moved a record 2 1/4 million people off the welfare rolls. Then last year, Congress enacted landmark welfare reform legislation, demanding that able-bodied recipients assume the responsibility of moving from welfare to work. Now each and every one of us has to fulfill our responsibility -- indeed, our moral obligation -- to make sure that people who now must work can work. (APPLAUSE) Now we must act to meet a new goal -- 2 million more people off the welfare rolls ...

Posted by: ilibcc at April 22, 2004 at 01:05 PM

I guess we can all look forward to Lath Daddy giving his next speech, The Axis of Evil.

Posted by: Crusader at April 22, 2004 at 01:33 PM

It looks more like stealing the ideas than genuine plagiarism, and I'm sympathetic with Latham given that there's not too many ways you could express the concepts.

The real worry is the crap he comes out with:

Mr Latham said: "Every infant child must be the beneficiary of reading programs."

That's not actually the same as being able to read. I was the beneficiary of French lessons, but can't speak to much of it.

Latham: "Every 10-year-old must be able to log on to the internet and manage information."

I bet every 10 year old can log onto the internet, and manager the wealth of pornographic information they find. But really, what a crap goal "manage information", just what does that mean.

Latham: "Every 17-year-old must be ready to extend their education into post-secondary qualifications."

That's not a goal it's an order. Clinton has the ludicrous goal that everyone should get to go to Uni. Latham justs wants them to be ready to get additiional qualifications. And I guess stamping number plates counts, so that looks after the boys in Green Valley.

I think Latham said every teach must be at the peak of his or her profession. I guess that would be a pretty flat peak then.

Posted by: Pedro at April 22, 2004 at 02:52 PM

"In 1997, Mr Clinton said: "Every eight-year-old must be able to read."

On Tuesday, Mr Latham said: "Every infant child must be the beneficiary of reading programs."

Clinton: "Every 12-year-old must be able to log on to the internet."

Latham: "Every 10-year-old must be able to log on to the internet and manage information."

Clinton: "Every 18-year-old must be able to go to college."

Latham: "Every 17-year-old must be ready to extend their education into post-secondary qualifications."

Clinton: "Every adult American must be able to keep on learning for a lifetime."

Latham: "We want every adult to keep on learning for the rest of their lives."

Another key line in Mr Clinton's address will sound familiar: "You must read with your children every night."

Last night, Mr Latham said: "Politicians around the world are commonly setting targets for their education systems.

"I'm ambitious for the Australian education system and have set appropriate targets for Australia. It really has nothing to do with Bill Clinton." "

Funny how Latham, the 'straight-talker', is so fond of managerial gobbledigook (as opposed to Clinton, who is much easier to understand).

Tim Dunlop finds another example - apparently Latham has appropriated the PM's favourite term, 'mateship'. But who cares? The PM doesn't have exclusive copyright over the term 'mateship', Churchill didn't have copyright over the term 'ladder of opportunity', and so what if some phrases in the Latham speech are similar to those in the Clinton speech? Originality and creativity are not virtues in a politician, no matter what Robert Bosler might say.

Posted by: TimT at April 22, 2004 at 03:01 PM

And what about when Whitlatham said "Ah did nawt haev sexshool reee-layshuns weth thet warmin"? That was a straight lift from "President Johnson" himself.

Posted by: Uncle Milk at April 22, 2004 at 03:12 PM

Personally I think the fact that Latham begins his speech with "Mr Spreaker, Mr Vice President, members of the 105th Congress..." is a dead giveaway that he copied Clinton. :)

Whilst on the subject, you were almost there Tim when you called him Ice Latham for his rapping tendencies, but I think given the overall quality of his efforts thus far, Vanilla Ice would be more appropriate.

Expect policy announcements to begin with "If there was a problem, yo I'll solve it..." from now on.

Posted by: GC at April 22, 2004 at 05:50 PM

Since nobody seems to write their own speeches anymore, who cares?
Are you upset that he isn't paying Clinton's speechwriters for the material?

Posted by: maor at April 22, 2004 at 07:52 PM

``The back stairs of opportunity'' is better poetically, and you don't have to steal it. Push to the head of the line, is my advice.

Posted by: Ron Hardin at April 22, 2004 at 08:29 PM

Can you believe this guy??? He does his best to whip up hatred of America and ride it all the way to the top of the polls even though America is the major source...the only source...of his election platform! Besides pinching Clinton's policies, these are his word too: He wants to introduce an "American style coastguard", an "American Style Dept. Of Homeland Security" and an "American style greencard." He talks constantly about an Australian identity, an identity, apparently, that he doesn't even recognise. No doubt he's hoping that nationalism might distract from his incoherent policies.

Posted by: Brian. at April 22, 2004 at 11:36 PM

Marky Mark is a rapper with a capital C.

Posted by: Habib at April 22, 2004 at 11:38 PM