Australian politics, society & culture


Sean Kelly

Sean Kelly was an adviser to prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard. He is the Monthly’s politics editor.


Articles by this author

This year just doesn’t let up, does it?
2016 is dead, long live 2016
What’s larger than infinity? Infinity plus one, goes the cheeky and apparently accurate answer. A week, as they say, is a long time in politics. A year, then, is an eternity....
The threat of defections should scare Turnbull
You have to feel for Malcolm Turnbull. His situation does not just look difficult. It really is difficult. Just three days until Christmas, and sharp stones are still being...
Turnbull should try something new
Living in the past
A while ago now I wrote about the Labor Party’s decisions to get rid of both Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard. In both cases, I said, the party was acting as though it lived in an age...
Malcolm Turnbull’s attack on Bill Shorten could work
Lethal lies
Dismissing Malcolm Turnbull’s new offensive against Bill Shorten would be a dangerous path for Labor to take. A few weeks ago Turnbull opened up a new front focused on Shorten...
The economic debate could still play either way
Never waste a good crisis
If Australia does lose its AAA credit rating in the months ahead, two iron laws of our national politics will come into conflict. The first dictates that governments are always...
Some small signs of good sense in the government
Green shoots
Sometimes, in politics, the biggest changes occur when few people are looking. Heading into Christmas, the signs for the prime minister aren’t great. I won’t rehearse them....
Doesn’t Peter Dutton have more important things to worry about?
The great Christmas carol farce
Honestly, I can barely be bothered to have an opinion about the Peter Dutton Christmas Carol Controversy. Interviewed by Ray Hadley today, and asked about a school which had...
The PM could do without destabilising rumours
Reshuffle chatter
Some of them just love to make a spectacle of themselves. They love to be the centre of attention [and] the best way to be the centre of attention is to be making things...
Christmas is close, but things are still happening
Events go on, whether we’re paying attention or not
Surely, 12 days out from Christmas, nobody is listening any more? Certainly not to Australian politics, which has been a full-on torrent from go to woe – exhaustion must have...
Perhaps the PM can recover after all
A republic?
It was an odd argument to make, for a monarchist hoping the PM would not suddenly start advocating for a republic. This is something that we’ve been fearing because he’s...
Playing nice isn’t working
Where the hell are the Liberal moderates?
Two and a half weeks ago, at the height of the latest Peter Dutton brouhaha, a sole Liberal MP rose to voice his dissent at meetings of the party. Trent Zimmerman said that...
Both Labor and the Liberals are vulnerable unless they deliver effective policy
Policy! Policy! Policy!
I observed last week that Turnbull and his team had come up with two new pieces of rhetoric. One of them sought to recast the view voters have of the government. The second sought...
When you look like a coward for long enough, people will draw an inevitable conclusion
Turnbull's greatest danger
The danger for Malcolm Turnbull in this week’s climate farce is not that Australians suddenly rise up in outrage at this new, self-wrought, entirely avoidable political crisis....
Malcolm Turnbull faces tricky decisions on climate politics
Devilish choices
Last week I suggested that Malcolm Turnbull might have discovered a new strategy for dealing with the right wing of his party. MPs like Cory Bernardi and George Christensen seem...
The environmental debate has become all about words
A juvenile climate
We’ve heard a lot this year about the juvenile decisions of politicians on all sides to pursue bloody politics at the expense of sensible policy. The Coalition’s late decision not...
Examining Turnbull’s strategy so far
How to deal with the recalcitrant right?
“Disunity is death,” goes the oft-quoted political platitude. In these days of weakened prime ministers, it is sometimes seen as a directive: to be successful, a leader must do...
The pragmatic prime minister gets something done at last
Snakes and ladders in the senate
Four things happened today. The first was that the government got its double-dissolution-delivering ABCC legislation through the senate. There are a thousand caveats you can...
We still don’t know what the PM cares about
The problem with “delivery”
The prime minister and the opposition leader addressed their respective party rooms this morning. Here’s the PM: All of us will be able to go back to our electorates and...