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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 June, 2005, 10:32 GMT 11:32 UK
Latham hits out at Australian MPs
Former Australia Labor Party leader Mark Latham
Mr Latham left politics after losing last year's election
The former leader of Australia's opposition Labor Party, Mark Latham, has hit out at several past colleagues, calling them "A-grade arseholes".

In his newly published biography, Mr Latham also described his successor, Kim Beazley, as a "stand-for-nothing".

Mr Latham, who was criticised inside the party for Labor's crushing election defeat last year, is well known for his outbursts of vulgar language.

He resigned as leader in January, citing health reasons.

The old [Labor] party has become a very conservative institution, run by conservative machine men
Mark Latham

In the book, Loner: Inside a Labor Tragedy written by journalist Bernard Lagan, Mr Latham said Labor state premiers "[Bob] Carr, [Peter] Beattie and [Geoff] Gallop are A-grade arseholes".

He also told his biographer that the Labor Party was beyond repair and beyond reform.

"Labor got the leader it truly deserves," he was quoted as saying, according to excepts published in The Bulletin.

"The old party has become a very conservative institution, run by conservative machine men... so it is well-suited to a conservative, stand-for-nothing type of leader," he said.

"That's sad for those Australians who see Labor as our best hope for social justice in this country," he added.

Colourful language

Mr Beazley has refused to discuss Mr Latham's comments or the book. "As far as I am concerned, it's all about he past. I'm about the future," he said.

Mr Beattie, premier of Queensland state, said he felt sorry for Mr Latham, as it was "painful to make the transition from politics to another career".

Bob Carr, Labor Premier of New South Wales, also shrugged off the comments. "I think in politics, as in other aspects of life, it's always nice to act with a bit of grace," he said.

Mr Latham is famous for his confrontational and colourful style. He once referred to Prime Minister John Howard as an "arselicker", and to the Liberal Party front bench as a "conga-line of suckholes".

Nicknamed "Biff " - an Australian colloquialism meaning rough and tough - he told parliament that US President George W Bush was "the most incompetent and dangerous president in living memory".

He also achieved notoriety after a brawl in which he broke a taxi driver's arm in a row over a fare.

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