While Morrison says he will not attempt an early election, the New Year is seeing the re- emergence of debate on issues such as border controls. It is pointed out that, while “Labor softened its asylum-seeker policy at its national conference last month by formally endorsing doctor-ordered medical evacuations off Manus Island and Nauru, it remains committed to boat turnbacks when safe to do so, offshore processing and regional resettlement.” But Morrison claims “they will abolish temporary protections visas and last year voted to end offshore processing as we know it in the parliament. And they had no clue what they had done’’
Trump’s sudden announcement that the US intends to “immediately withdraw” troops from Syria (and much reduced troops for Afghanistan) has caused much confusion as to US defence policy and, following the resignation of Mattis as Defence Secretary, Trump has found it difficult to get a replacement. While consistent with his election manifesto, Trump appears to have recognised that he was being too hasty and it appears he has accepted the view of National Security adviser, John Bolton, that the withdrawal be extended over a longer period and that it should first involve the elimination of IS (which Trump initially claimed had been achieved). Even so, policy uncertainty remains.
For Republicans the US mid-term elections provide a forecast increase in Senate seats to 52/48 (from 51/49) and a forecast reduction in House seats to 197/235 (from 241/194). All 435 seats in House were up for election but only 35 of the 100 Senate seats were. If the forecast loss by Republicans of 44 seats occurs in the House, that would be the smallest mid-term loss under a post war President except for Reagan’s loss of only 26 seats in 1982 ie a mid-term loss of House seats is “normal”.