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Turnbull's unfinished business for 2018

  • 02 February 2018


The best starting point to predict the agenda for politics in 2018 is to look at what was left unfinished at the end of last year. The legacy of 2017 was that most of the key issues from last year have spilled over.

The legalisation of same sex marriage has been decided but a testy debate about religious freedom remains. The Ruddock committee will report in March and then the battles will resume.

Dual citizenship of MPs remains on the radar with several more cases to be decided in March once the High Court has reported as a Court of Disputed Returns.

The outright rejection of the type of Indigenous Constitutional recognition as proposed by the Uluru Declaration will surely have to be revisited.

The Banking royal commission which the government was dragged into unwillingly will get under way. Discomfort for the government and the wider business community will ensue.

The future and wellbeing of asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru will not go away, nor will the disputes over federal funding of schools.

Energy policy remains unclear and summer will test the power generation system. If failures occur there will be recrimination, flowing into debates about the future of both coal and alternative energy sources.


"Turnbull has some favourable economic statistics, such as unemployment figures, working for him, but he still has to weave them into a convincing story of better times ahead."


There are opportunities for both sides of politics, government and opposition, in the leftovers from 2017. The balance looked to have shifted somewhat back towards the government in the final weeks of last year. The task of Malcolm Turnbull will be to begin the new year as he ended the last. On the other hand Bill Shorten has to prove that December was just a blip and not a permanent change of his fortunes for the worse.

Halfway through the government's term the next election is still the opposition's to lose, but Turnbull can look forward to a better year. There is a reasonable chance that the government will be blessed with greater political stability and more favourable economic circumstances.

Political stability is largely in the government's own hands. Turnbull may be moving into clearer air and a stronger position within conservative circles. But his party and Coalition opponents will not vacate the field and issues like religious freedom, banking, and energy policy may provide ammunition for them with Tony Abbott remaining unpredictable.

Economic circumstances may