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 brought many surprises, and that’s a good thing
A good kind of uncertainty
“In what way is any single person sure how a certain matter will turn out?” That quotation, which I found in a review of writer Henry Green’s work, comes from the novel...
Our leaders need to spend more time considering their words
Say it like you mean it
It is possible, in these seeming end-times, to develop a sense of nostalgia for the formal, boring language of politics as it was once practised, not that long ago. Donald...
A day when silly things were said and long-range troubles came into view
Time bombs
Some extraordinary things have been said over the past 24 hours. This was Barnaby Joyce: “When you talk about ill-discipline because we got a banking royal commission...
Today’s reshuffle had some problems – such as not enough women getting promoted
The single most important thing about Malcolm Turnbull’s ministerial reshuffle is that there are still just five women in the cabinet. Four blokes got the call-up today, and just...
After a bitter year, voters might have trouble spotting the difference between our leaders
A case of mistaken identity
The problem with voting, goes the old joke, is that you always end up with a politician. My guess is that that sums up how most voters are feeling right now. Newspoll’s...
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse reported today. What happens next is up to all of us.
Don’t look away
“I know that this subject matter is very difficult, and for people with young kids it’s particularly hard to fathom, but if people haven’t paid a lot of attention to the royal...
Bennelong may prove a damp squib, but 2018 will fire things up again
There’s been a lot of speculation in recent days that the frenzy of efforts in Bennelong indicates that the contest remains incredibly tight. I’ve got no argument with that,...
Today offered a small glimpse of a better type of political debate
Remember policy?
I confess to feeling a sense of whiplash today. For the past two months, we’ve been charging along through relentlessly political terrain. Every day it’s been either gamesmanship...
Dastyari leaves parliament
The fall of Sam Dastyari is a story that deserves several thousand words, and no doubt it will get them over the next few days.  There are three parts to that tale. The...
Labor seems divided over the Dastyari affair
Lingering issues
Byelections are often interpreted – over-interpreted, you’d have to say – as referendums on the fate of prime ministers and Opposition leaders. Rarely are they seen as votes on...
The frustrations of this week will fade, but the change to our laws will last
Remember this moment
It has been a confusing week. Like many people, I watched yesterday’s vote on marriage equality with a strange mixture of emotions. I was so happy. And yet I couldn’t quite...
Same-sex marriage has been voted into law
A victory for equality
YES!!! … is that all there is to say today? Well, perhaps just one thing should be added. There will be a lot of talk about this vote being parliament at its best. Don’t buy...
Politicians have embarrassed themselves with the citizenship mess
A disgrace
Today is unlikely to be remembered as a particularly bleak day in the annals of Australian politics. Oh, but it was. Only last week there were congratulations galore as the Senate...
Suddenly it’s the Opposition leader under pressure
Plot twist
There has been, in the past 24 hours, an interesting reversal. It’s been widely noted that Malcolm Turnbull has, for some weeks now, been desperately desiring the year to end....
Turnbull and Shorten are making the same mistakes they usually do
Imagine yourself six years into the future, looking back from the vantage point of the third term of the Turnbull government. Remember how Malcolm Turnbull seemed finished, you...
The PM should worry as impressions are cemented
Mocking day
On a day dominated by the deputy premier of New South Wales telling Malcolm Turnbull he should step down by Christmas, a gentle jibe from Labor’s treasury spokesman is...
The PM’s massive banks backflip lands the government in a very dark place
That sinking feeling
When you work in politics, there is a particular feeling that sometimes comes over you. It’s highly unpleasant, and it is brought on by a very specific situation. It arrives when...
A historic moment, as the marriage bill passed the Senate
A day of joy
“I commend the bill, and move that it be read a third time.” Quietly, clearly, with these plain words, Liberal senator Dean Smith concluded his speech in support of marriage...