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

What followed the High Court’s plebiscite decision was instructive
A telling moment
The High Court today dismissed the challenges to the government’s decision to hold a postal vote on the issue of same-sex marriage. I hate that the postal plebiscite is going...
So many things are out of the government’s hands
Today had the air, slightly, of the hours between the close of polling booths on election day and the moment at which results start to filter through. Things happen in those hours...
A bad result in court may yet lead to a good result for Turnbull
Silver linings
It’s always a good idea in politics to keep your mind open to the possibility that things could turn out opposite to the way you think they will. The government has told us for...
Is Labor capable of changing its approach to Opposition?
Olive branches
Labor is at an interesting inflection point. In the life of a party in Opposition, there usually comes a point when it begins to realise that getting into government is an...
Predictions have a bad habit of coming back to bite you
A serious problem
“New Zealand is facing an election. Should there be a change of government, I would find it very hard to build trust with those involved in allegations designed to undermine the...
A quiet day with occasional semantic interruptions
Words, words, words
To give you some sense of how quiet politics is today, the only two things I can find to get even remotely excited about are two tiny changes in wording. I should probably...
The PM is doing what he should be doing
The daily grind
It’s important to note that Malcolm Turnbull is doing exactly what any sensible politician should do at this point. Having suffered through a dreadful month, and finding...
Perhaps the government’s attack on “socialist” Shorten isn’t as crazy as it seems
Method in the madness?
What a week! Last Wednesday, Mathias Cormann all but called Bill Shorten a socialist. Oh boy, I thought, Cormann’s finally been pushed to madness. The finance minister told us...
Turnbull’s leather jacket offensive was overshadowed
Clothes don’t always maketh the man
One of the mistakes political parties make is to think that particular policies are popular or unpopular. Voters are asked whether or not they support an idea. If most do then it’...
Arguments about history are good, but should be based on actual facts
A dishonest debate about dishonest history
Years ago I was taught the name of the man who discovered the clitoris. It sounds like the beginning of a joke, and in a sense it is. It’s an obviously laughable idea. It’s...
High Court shenanigans
The Kiefel Curse
One of the great delights of watching politics is when politicians drop one fairly silly argument – “finally,” we sigh, thinking sanity has come at last – just before...
Citizenship dramas bubbled along, but not much else
A quiet day, slightly spoiled
Today was one of those treasures that have lately become rare, and therefore delightful beyond all understanding: a quiet day in federal politics. There’s been some pressure in...
Slow and boring sometimes wins the race
Taking your time
Really my main conclusion right now is that we’re not learning anything new. So, you know, skip the rest if you’d prefer. I can give you my verdict on Bill Shorten’s...
Another predictably bad day for the government
Entirely foreseeable problems
Round and round and round we go. In a time of depressing sameness, there was one shift today. Newspoll, stuck for weeks and weeks at 47–53 in Labor’s favour, shifted a notch...
It’s been a terrible month for the government
Turnbull’s mental challenge
It has been a truly horrid two weeks for the government, as has been widely noted. What should worry the prime minister more is that it’s actually been almost a month of...
As Laurie Oakes retires, politicians could do worse than reflect on history
The long view
When you go on TV it is your interview. You are under no compulsion to answer what you have been asked. You are there to use the opportunity to fulfil our objectives. You are...
The government jumped right back into conspiracy land
In denial
Governments in trouble – and yes, I’m speaking from experience – sometimes console themselves with the idea that what the press gallery sees is very different from what middle...
Poor political execution put pressure back on the government
Bishop oversteps
In November 2012, Julie Bishop was the Coalition’s chief spear carrier on the contrived AWU scandal then dogging Julia Gillard, for whom I was working. Each day, Bishop would...