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

It’s been a bad week for the PM
The Coalition has snookered itself, again
A friend pointed out to me this exquisite line, from an article [$] in the Australian Financial Review this morning, about the latest banking scandal: CBA chairman Catherine...
The repugnant postal plebiscite will have political consequences too
Shorten’s huge chance
There was a curious moment during today’s prime ministerial press conference, when two worlds wobbled next to each other. A journalist asked whether Bill Shorten would be in...
The “respectful debate” on marriage got off to a bad start
A long few months
Sometime between yesterday and today, Malcolm Turnbull changed his tune on the ability of Australians to conduct a respectful debate. Yesterday, he was unequivocal. “Do we...
Turnbull looks weak because he is weak
No good answers
One of my jobs, as a press secretary, was to anticipate the questions my boss was going to be peppered with by journalists. Another was to come up with possible answers. Once you...
Turnbull may survive today’s marriage meeting, but survival is not enough
Glorious victories
Tony Abbott, as usual, had a brilliant solution at the ready. “The Howard government tried 40 times to change unfair dismissal laws in the Senate. We’ve put the plebiscite up...
The Trump–Turnbull phone call was fascinating
A psychological drama
There are three things to say about the leaked transcript of the Trump–Turnbull call from January this year. The first is that nothing of what was said is particularly surprising...
A series of approaching deadlines will make Turnbull uncomfortable
Troppo times
“The Liberal Party at the moment seems to have gone a bit troppo with this really nasty internal brawl over same-sex marriage. It reminds me of the Labor Party 50 years ago when...
The Liberal Party is shadow-boxing with itself on same-sex marriage
Dancing in the dark
Sometimes the most important thing to say is also the most obvious. Above all of the labyrinthine discussions of rules and allegiances and procedures hovers one clear fact: at...
Turnbull should hold a parliamentary vote on same-sex marriage ASAP
The right thing to do
In March last year, the prime minister made a shock announcement. Speaking at a snap press conference, he revealed that he had received permission from the governor-general to...
The Opposition leader is working hard to define himself for voters
Shorten’s big weekend
For the second time in a row we come to Monday having already suffered through a hectic weekend in politics. Over that period the momentum seesawed between the two major parties....
The citizenship circus threatens to paralyse the government
Where does it all end?
It’s not Newspoll, at least not directly. It’s not Tony Abbott, either. It’s not the fact he and his treasurer seem to have no idea how to combat the inequality campaign that now...
The government has lost control of the spotlight
Remember national security?
As we trudge to the end of a hotchpotch of a week, it is worth remembering that just nine days ago we were still absorbing the PM’s decision to create a new national security...
Another day, another senator in citizenship strife
Citizen Canavan
It’s weeks like this that it seems the only thing keeping Australia from the status of banana republic is the fact that we’re not organised enough to become a republic. ...
Refugees on Nauru and Manus Island are, once again, caught in a stand-off
An agreement disagreement
It’s a fairly quiet day in federal politics, but there is one story that is potentially significant, and getting a fair bit of attention. The truth is that it’s hard to tell...
It’s been a hectic few days
Democracy Now!
A lot has been happening, so consider the following a handy summary. Liberal democrats On the weekend, the NSW Liberal Party voted to give all its members a vote in state...
The times just may not suit Malcolm Turnbull
Wrong time, wrong place
John Howard famously predicted that the times would suit him. He had to wait a while but, eventually, they did, and continued to do so for about 12 years. If the times can suit...
The former PM was back to his usual tricks today
Turnbull, Abbott, rinse, repeat
It’s become tedious even to observe that it’s tedious to see Tony Abbott sticking his head up again. That’s how tediously predictable the whole thing is. But to get to the fact...
Another sign that donation reform is long overdue
Spring cleaning
I’ve spent a bit of time over the past couple of years arguing that the influence of donations on our political system is insidious and pernicious. The first point is that...