Editor’s Note

Editor’s Note December 2016 – January 2017

The American people elected a candidate who promised to upend their political system. As with Brexit, it was a political result that seemed to come out of nowhere. The politics of rage, of populism, of protest, are overwhelming Western nations. In the December–January issue of the Monthly, we look at the phenomenon from an Australian perspective. Summer reading? Well, we have the other kind too – no shortage of it, amid 92 pages – but the summer months are as good a time as any to survey the landscape, take stock, and refresh thinking.

George Megalogenis points out that “the lesson of 2016, from the United States, Britain and Europe, is that voters, once disengaged, can be easily re-animated to wreck the system. Australians are well into the disengaged phase.”

Andrew Charlton and Lachlan Harris write that the minor party vote in Australia has risen rapidly over the past two decades, and we may be only one election away from a parliament in which both houses are hung. Whose support will future prime ministers need to form government? The vote for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation is rising rapidly in some areas – it’s up to 16% in Queensland, according to George Brandis. The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party just claimed its first seat in the NSW lower house, shocking the Nationals with a swing of more than 20% in a recent by-election.

And yet, argues Christos Tsiolkas, “We are fooling ourselves if we believe the rage is only misogynistic or rural, only white and right-wing, baby-boomer and not millennial. It screeches across the spectrum of left and right politics, no more so than on the internet, which allows for a lubrication and indulgence in wrath just as much as it does so for lust.”

These essays challenge any simplistic analysis, and will likely provoke extensive debate and argument. The season for it has only just begun.

Nick Feik

Nick Feik is the editor of the Monthly.