Editor’s Note

Editor’s Note September 2014

In September, the Abbott government will celebrate its first birthday. Perhaps “celebrate” isn’t the right word. Most government MPs would give quiet thanks that the year is over, and concede it hasn’t been the one they expected. Voters are more likely to commiserate than congratulate.

As parliament resumes, the government’s budget tactics spin from threat to attack via whining denial but remain bogged in the same mud as before. Given that they have tried everything else, Coalition strategists are reportedly considering a new approach: consultative government in accordance with their promises to the public. Novel, but it might work.

“We hope to be judged by what we have done,” said Tony Abbott as his ministry was sworn in last year, “rather than by what we have said we would do.” Fair enough, says David Marr, as he sets out to dissect the government’s abysmal record since the election. Marr’s essay this month contrasts the free-speech rhetoric Abbott espoused before the election with the new government’s actions on data retention, surveillance of private citizens, secrecy around asylum seekers, and threats against the media, whistleblowers, arts organisations and community legal centres. The collapse of Attorney-General George Brandis’ amendments to the Racial Discrimination Act signalled the final retreat of the government’s freedom agenda. Even Abbott’s most vocal supporters are starting to express dismay at the Coalition’s performance.

This month’s cover, painted by Neil Moore, will undoubtedly provoke some strong reactions. Given the circumstances, that is entirely appropriate.

Nick Feik

Nick Feik is the editor of The Monthly.

@nickfeik

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