Each month for the last I-don't-know-how many-months I have intended to write this letter. I've finally put fingers to keyboard (doesn't have the same ring as 'pen to paper', but it's more accurate).
I've been a subscriber to The Monthly almost from the beginning; I took out a 2 year subscription on the strength of the first issue or two. I also bought my 35 year old son a subscription for Xmas. I'm a 62 year old full time teacher and writer. I currently teach professional writing and editing fulltime in a TAFE institute.
Virtually since the time of the 'Kennett Revolution' and the 'Howard Ascendancy' I've watched with increasing dismay the direction the conservative parties have been taking us, along with the demise of an effective opposition in the Commonwealth parliament. There was a moment, just before the events of September 11, and its legacy, the 'shadow of no towers', when it looked likely that the Howard government would be swept from office by an electorally resurgent Beazley-led Labour Party. The terrorist raid and the subsequent cynical "babies overboard" exercise put paid to any chance of a return to a more palatable government.
What has been just as deeply distressing has been the absence of critical voices. But in The Monthly we have, at last, a middle ground, intellectual, critical journal, one that dares to criticise the government and its policies, and that dares to take a stand and - when it is justified - call an immoral spade a spade.
With regard to The Monthly, a pattern has now been established. My copy usually arrives on a Tuesday or Wednesday. I tell myself that I'll read one or two articles and then spread the rest of the reading over a week or so. But it doesn't happen. Usually it's finished by Thursday night - or Friday night at the latest.
The writing and analysis are excellent. This month's comprehensive demolition of Alan Jones, Gideon Haigh's account of the parlous state of decision making regarding University research, Peter Craven's insightful discussion of the state of Australia's film industry, Henry Reynold's response to Michael Connor - all are compelling reading. Robert Manne may have been voted Australia's leading intellectual; he ought also to be voted Australia's outstanding analyst and writer on social and political. I read his clear accounts of things with awe.
While full page graphics - like the double page spread that introduces Peter Craven's article, Cut!, and the page 60 Rock graphic - are probably great design features, my personal preference would be for less of the visual stuff and more text. (On the other hand, the 'We grew here, you flew here!' graphic on p. 47 is worth the proverbial thousand words.)
Please maintain your high editorial standards and your courageous journalism and commentary.