Tony Abbott

Editor’s Note

May 2013 Editor’s Note

Illustration by Jeff Fisher.

On 14 January, Julia Gillard leapfrogged Kevin Rudd to become Australia’s 16th longest–serving prime minister. On 16 March, she slipped past Australia’s first prime minister, Sir Edmund Barton, into 15th place. At the start of next month, on 1 June, she’ll overtake Gough Whitlam. It’s likely that no one but an uber-competitive uber-nerd will take any notice – no one, that is, but Kevin Rudd. To catch up to his successor on the prime ministerial table, he would need to resume office by 12 May, because after the 14 September election it will be Tony Abbott’s turn to start notching up days.

Rudd’s campaign to regain the prime ministership has been long and loathsome, as Erik Jensen’s essay reveals. Although his supporters in caucus, now together on the backbench, continue to agitate for his return, it’s clear that a decisive majority of his colleagues regard him as a saboteur. They’d rather be annihilated come September than save a handful of seats by rewarding the man who has held them to ransom. Morally, if sourly, this may yet be a high point for a party often better known for its “whatever it takes” ethos.

Speaking of highs and lows, in this, our eighth birthday edition, we have the big subjects well covered: football, sex, scandal, madness, death and tax. Peter Cronin and James Button take a look at the lighter and darker sides of AFL football. And both Robyn Annear’s essay on the Destroy the Joint movement and Catherine Ford’s profile of the anthropologist Peter Sutton, who has hinted at his troubled inner life in these pages before, are superb.

A heartfelt thanks to all those readers who have come on board in the last eight years. May you enjoy this issue and many more to come.

John van Tiggelen

John van Tiggelen is a freelance writer and the author of Mango Country.

Read on

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Climate of blame

Labor runs the risk of putting expediency over principle

Afterwards, nothing is the same: Shirley Hazzard

On the splendour of the acclaimed author’s distinctly antipodean seeing

We will not be complete

The time for convenient denial of Australia’s brutal history is past


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