Editor’s Note

Editor’s Note December 2017 – January 2018

Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership has moved from merely ineffectual to disastrous, and he appears incapable of righting the ship. (This would require, at the very least, an acknowledgement of error – a developmental step beyond the prime minister to this point.) No one needs a recap of the overlapping failures; suffice to say, good government now seems beyond the Coalition.

Something else has become evident in recent months: Australia is better than its government. 

If the same-sex marriage survey proved anything, it is that social change doesn’t rely upon a supportive government. The public gave up waiting and forced progress upon a recalcitrant joint party room. The momentum has been unstoppable.

Parliament will eventually legislate for marriage equality, but the public should be under no illusions as to how it came about, or why. Or who deserves credit for it.

The Coalition’s modus operandi of delay, avoid, downgrade or shut down – whether it be on the NBN or on climate change, towards asylum seekers or the LGBTI community, or on Indigenous recognition or the republican movement – will most likely leave Turnbull consigned, if we could borrow Noel Pearson’s phrase, “to a footnote in Australian prime ministerial history”. Right beside Tony Abbott.

In his essay for the Monthly’s summer issue, on the Coalition’s betrayal of the Indigenous recognition cause, Pearson pegs Turnbull for his mendacity and unprincipled opportunism. Pearson has discovered, from bitter experience, that Turnbull is “trapped by his political situation: devoid of capital, hostage to the conservatives whose leader he had stabbed in order to gain the prime ministership, and without the gumption to break his captivity”.

Pearson is also right about this: “This [Uluru statement] agenda will not die. It is the agenda for the future. This setback … is not our destiny.”

Turnbull gave up his chance to help shape this destiny. Australia will leave him and his party behind.

On a somewhat sunnier note: Thank you, readers, for your support of the Monthly in 2017. Your summer issue awaits, and it’s a ripper.

Nick Feik

Nick Feik is the editor of the Monthly.