Here's the logic:
1. The FTA, as do most free trade agreements, provide a net benefit to both parties.
2. The ALP knows that most Australians recognise the benefits of the FTA.
3. The ALP know that the FTA is benefitial to Australia, although it may harm the short term interests of some ALP supporters (ie, Doug Cameron).
4. The ALP knows that in order to keep ALP supporters who are cold on the FTA (see 3, above) on side, they will need to give the impression of standing against some part of it, hence the grandstanding on local content rules and patent rules.
Bottom line - the ALP will grizzle for a bit, and then support it.
And more importantly, what the hell is Latham on about with his mysterious Kilkenny Cats? They made an appearance on Lateline a fortnight ago:
MARK LATHAM: Well, the right wing never give power away easily, that's for sure.
They always fight like Kilkenny cats to hang onto it and they do some pretty crazy things to that effect.
And then they got a run on PM last night...
MARK LATHAM: Our step is to urge the Government to adopt these good amendments to the enabling legislation and then fight and fight and fight in the Senate to make sure that that happens.
CATHERINE MCGRATH: And…
MARK LATHAM: We're going to fight like Kilkenny cats to ensure that those amendments go through.
So is Latham going for the Irish Catholic vote? Or perhaps the feline vote?
UPDATE (7 August, about 12:20am): A dedicated member of the Ariontheweb army has gone straight to the source and has flicked the original Kilkenny Cats poem to me. Thanks Tim:
There were once two cats of Kilkenny,
Each thought there was one cat too many:
So they fought and they fit,
And they scratched and they bit,
Till, excepting their nails
And the tips of their tails,
Instead of two cats there weren't any.