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

The vapid idiocy of our public debate must end
This. Was. Not. News.
I have this mild daydream that occasionally overtakes me. I’d go further than that – it’s a belief, though I acknowledge there’s a fair bit of wishing within it. It’s that one day...
The government made three big shifts today
The budget takes shape
Three big shifts took place today. Each was politically strong for the Coalition, though the second was also craven. I can’t understand why the government arranged things so they...
Malcolm Turnbull will meet with Donald Trump next week
Prime ministerial pomp
Political advisers are often pleased as punch when their boss heads off to foreign climes for some diplomatic backslapping, or to meet Australians working – or serving – overseas...
Today’s Newspoll was bad, but not fatal
Turnbull should be nervous
Waiting for this morning’s Newspoll to roll around, moderate Liberals would have felt most torn. They could not afford to see Malcolm Turnbull go backwards. A slide deeper into...
The Opposition faces a difficult choice on immigration
Now the focus shifts to Labor
I wrote yesterday that I don’t think much of the government’s immigration plan. But let’s assume I’m wrong. Let’s look at it from the prime minister’s point of view. Malcolm...
The PM’s main threat is the growing indifference of the electorate
The lethal tiredness destroying Turnbull’s government
Watching Australian politics this week, an immense wave of tiredness swept over me. Perhaps I’m alone in this. There will, over the weekend, be a sweep of commentary from some...
Immigration crackdowns as an answer to everything
The magic immigration pudding
Today was Day 2 of the government’s 457 visa announcement and the prime minister would be pretty happy with that. He’d be happy just because there was a Day 2. Such is the speed...
Turnbull’s 457 visa announcement was not about jobs
A race to the bottom on race
Malcolm Turnbull made an announcement today about race. Nominally it was about jobs. But it was really about race. Moments after the prime minister announced that 457 visas for...
Cabinet deliberations are now taking place in public
A messy situation
One of the undervalued skills possessed by politicians is their ability to emote about matters that most of us find unbearably tedious. “It’s a great pity that colleagues are...
Slow news days don’t mean nothing is happening
Pay attention (please)
Let’s not waste anyone’s time: it’s a slow news day. But that doesn’t mean nothing important is going on. Really important stuff is going on. It’s just that it’s the type of...
Let the guessing games begin
Budget whispers
We are now firmly in budget whisper territory. Scott Morrison has copped a lot of flak – a lot – in recent weeks for his seemingly churlish refusal to countenance any changes...
Scott Morrison’s aiming big with the budget
It is four weeks until the budget. It is also four days out from the Easter long weekend, and I can’t imagine most people are paying much attention to federal politics. Most of us...
Trump’s actions may be right but they should still frighten us
The end of certainty
Donald Trump’s decision to order a missile attack on an airbase in Syria has delivered us into a more uncertain international arena. This is not necessarily a bad thing. But it is...
The former PM keeps getting in the way of the current PM’s strategy
Abbott vs Budget
And on the two-track government narrative rolled. Scott Morrison was out there today talking about the budget. His message was ostensibly to businesses: you need to be making...
Our politicians could do with a dose of ambiguity
The problem with sledgehammers
Physicist Brian Cox this week offered politicians some advice. “Politicians need to approach the public not by saying ‘this is absolutely right’ but by saying this is the...
The battles within the parties are often more interesting than the battles between the parties
On the weekend, Malcolm Turnbull sidled up to saying something interesting. The Liberal Party, he said, must occupy the “sensible centre” of politics. It must reject “populism...
Turnbull and Morrison have a tough few weeks ahead of them
’Tis the (budget) season
We are now firmly into budget season. Five weeks tomorrow we’ll see the document itself. On Friday the prime minister secured the passage of company tax cuts for companies with...
Mixed results are no longer good enough for Turnbull
Silver lining, meet cloud
Consider the fact that the Chinese extradition debacle of earlier this week is almost forgotten. This was an issue of foreign policy regarding one of Australia’s most important...