editorial February 27, 2021

Denial enables abuse

The prime minister says he didn’t know that Brittany Higgins had accused a colleague of sexually assaulting her. He says he didn’t know until February 15 this year, three days after a media inquiry came into his office. But he knows now. This is the moment when a leader would stand up, take responsibility and then face the questions that need to be answered. Instead Scott Morrison’s only concern, it seems, is to avoid at all costs any of this sticking to him.

editorial February 20, 2021

Nats off the planet

Bridget McKenzie says the Nationals are “very, very keen to make a positive, progressive contribution to the energy and emissions debate”. All the evidence to hand suggests this is not true.

editorial February 13, 2021

After Eddie

Eddie McGuire is not the end, as much as the AFL would like him to be. A culture as toxic as the one described in the report that finally ended his 22-year tenure as Collingwood president cannot be seeded and maintained by one man.

editorial February 6, 2021

Stalling on the environment

Six months ago, Bob Brown launched a legal challenge many said would rival his storied campaign to save the Franklin River. If successful, the case would have invalidated Tasmania’s regional forestry agreement, which, like other such agreements around the country, is exempted from Australia’s key environmental law – the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. This week, the Federal Court ruled against Brown and his foundation. Tasmania’s agreement will hold.

editorial January 30, 2021

Spit into a milkshake

Sometimes people end up where they belong. This is not how Tony Abbott became prime minister but it is how he found himself working at the Institute of Public Affairs. That a man can go from leading the country to making Facebook videos for a right-wing think tank is evidence of the great lack in our politics.

editorial January 23, 2021

A useful excuse

The iconic image is of Kenneth Hayne in an office with Josh Frydenberg. The former High Court justice is presenting the treasurer with the final report of his royal commission into banking. A photographer asks if the two men might shake hands. Hayne does not break eye contact with the table. He says, simply: “Nope.” Two years on, this grim photo opportunity is perhaps the most lasting outcome of the banking royal commission.

editorial December 19, 2020

Sliding towards zero

The quality that makes Scott Morrison uniquely equipped to lead Australia in 2021 is his preternatural inability to feel shame. There were hints of this early on – in the treasurer who held aloft a lump of coal in parliament, the Immigration minister with an almost absurd commitment to the phrase “on-water matters” – but since his elevation to the prime ministership, it has become the defining feature of his government.

editorial December 12, 2020

Mungo MacCallum (1941–2020)

What made Mungo MacCallum special, one of the things, was that for all the bewilderment and dismay he felt looking at politics he never lost his sense of clarity. If John Howard was the most effective politician of the past two decades, Mungo’s preferred description of him was the most enduring: “an unflushable turd”.

editorial December 5, 2020

Blueprint for failure

Australia faces an inevitable crisis, led by a government that couldn’t be less capable of its handling. It wasn’t impossible to plan for this moment. As its power grew, China was always going to chafe against the presence of Australia, the United States’ most loyal ally, in Asia.

editorial November 28, 2020

No pants, no target

Scott Morrison’s response to climate change is to take off his pants. It is not yet summer and his office has released pictures of him dressed for press conferences from the waist up. Below his jacket are a pair of shorts and rubber thongs.

editorial November 21, 2020

Genie in the subtle energy lamp

It’s not only Pete Evans. He’s just the untreated symptom of a politics that cannot deal with complexity. It is a politics without any real constituency, stretching and searching to find something that might give it power.