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

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...
Another day lost to troublesome government MPs
Free advice
Peter Dutton said something late last week that struck me with its plain-spoken appeal to the common sense of his conservative colleagues. “I offer my frank advice, I argue...
The Queensland result confirms things we already knew
Status quo
So, yes, the Queensland election result is interesting, it really is, but it’s interesting in quite a boring way. Despite all the talk of votes spraying everywhere, psephologists...
Once the race for the leadership begins, it can be very hard to stop.
Unfriendly competition
The government’s been getting on with things this week. On Monday night, the prime minister flagged coming tax cuts. On Wednesday, former minister Philip Ruddock was appointed to...
The situation on Manus has gone too far. It is time to bring these people here.
An actual crisis
In 2012, the Australian anthropologist Professor Andrew Lattas spoke of a specialist police unit locking villagers in shipping containers and whipping them with sticks and fan...
To have any chance of recovery, government MPs need to remember what side they’re on
Form follows function
Explaining the point of the PM’s floated income tax cuts, Paul Kelly wrote [$] in the Australian: “The bigger play from Turnbull to both his party and the public is that a...