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Labor's choice of Latham a mistake: Liberals -

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Labor's choice of Latham a mistake: Liberals

Reporter: Narda Gilmore

TONY JONES: Well, back home, and the Labor Party has been offered a blunt assessment of its
failures in the lead-up to the federal election.

In a post-election analysis, the Liberal Party's federal director, Brian Loughnane described Mark
Latham as 'erratic', and claimed it was a mistake for Labor to elect him as leader.

This as the Opposition's new frontbench began a two-day meeting to work out what went wrong.

From Canberra, Narda Gilmore reports.

NARDA GILMORE: Spirits seemed to be high among Labor's new look shadow cabinet today as they met in
Canberra for a two-day election post-mortem.

MARK LATHAM, OPPOSITION LEADER: We've gotta listen and learn from the judgement of the Australian
people.

NARDA GILMORE: Mark Latham's still facing judgement over one of the campaigns most compelling
images - his vigorous election-eve handshake with John Howard.

MARK LATHAM: You're saying you know if you're saying we lost the election because of a handshake,
that is silly.

NARDA GILMORE: The Liberal Party's federal director, Brian Loughnane, says while it may not have
decided the election, the handshake was damaging.

BRIAN LOUGHNANE, LIBERAL FEDERAL DIRECTOR: I have had more feedback about that incident than any
other incident in the campaign.

One of those incidents that brought together all the doubts and hesitations that people had about
Mark Latham.

NARDA GILMORE: Brian Loughnane was delivering his traditional post-election analysis at the
National Press Club.

He's convinced the economy was the key to the Coalition's victory.

BRIAN LOUGHNANE: Sixty-five per cent of people in key marginal seats agreed with the proposition
the Coalition was better able to keep the economy strong.

NARDA GILMORE: Labor acknowledges the economy was its key failing.

But the Liberal Party director goes much further.

Brian Loughnane says electing Mark Latham as leader was one of the biggest mistakes.

BRIAN LOUGNANE: It was a poor choice born of despair and desperate hope.

NARDA GILMORE: Mr Loughnane says concerns about the Labor Leader grew during the campaign.

He came close to suggesting Mark Latham is unelectable.

BRIAN LOUGNANE: Do I think he's in a relatively weak position?

I think that's the case.

WAYNE SWAN, SHADOW TREASURER: Winners always rewrite history afterwards, because that's what
winners do.

I've run winning campaigns too and I know what he's up to but I wouldn't necessarily regard his
assessment as being accurate.

NARDA GILMORE: Mark Latham has the party's backing - the united front continuing with dinner
tonight.

As the post-election analysis continues, the Government's still waiting to find out if it'll win a
majority in the Senate.

The results for the deciding Queensland seat will be known tomorrow and will come down to the
38,000 votes for Pauline Hanson.

It all depends on how the Hanson voters distributed their preferences.

ANTONY GREEN, ABC ELECTION ANALYST: Her preferences, if they flow solidly to One Nation, would end
up delivering the last seat to the Greens but if there's any leakage to the Greens or to the
National Party then the National Party will stay ahead.

NARDA GILMORE: That would deliver the seat to the National's Barnaby Joyce, giving the Coalition
the 39 seats it needs for an outright Senate majority.

Narda Gilmore, Lateline.

(c) 2006 ABC