By Connor Pound
Published 01/05/2016

As both the election season and budget draw nearer all eyes are on Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten to make some major moves. Although this week -hopefully- wasn’t either sides crowning moment, it did have a few events that might make a difference.

Australia’s new submarine fleet has been commissioned

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull revealed that French company DNCS has secured a $50 billion contract to build Australia’s next fleet of submarines. DNCS, who out-bidded German company Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems and the Japanese Government, has built over 100 submarines for 9 nations including Brazil, India, Malaysia and Chile. The 12 new “Baracude Shortfin” submarines will be built at Adelaide’s Osborne shipyards where they were originally expected to create 2800 jobs, but it has since been revealed by DNCS that hundreds more  will be needed to maintain it’s presence in the area. The announcement is also likely to prop-up Coalition support in South Australia, where it has been on the gradual decline for months.

The Labor Party released their climate change policy
The Labor party released a document outlining their climate change policies, coming out with a predictably proactive approach to the issue. Of significance are two major policies: firstly, the introduction of two separate emission trading schemes, one for electricity generators and one for businesses who emit more than 25,000 tonnes of carbon pollution per year. Secondly, they intend to implement a mandatory light vehicle standard that will see cars move from the current 184 grams per kilometre to 105g/km – closer to American standards. Labor admitted that the move will increase the price of a new car by approximately $1,500 but also stated that it would save drivers $8,500 in fuel costs over the life of a car. The policy document also reaffirms Labor’s promise to reduce carbon emissions by 45 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030.

Papua New Guinea announced the closure of Manus Island detention centre
Following a ruling by Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court on Wednesday, the country’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill announced that the Manus Island detention centre will shut down. The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the detention of asylum seekers and genuine refugees was unconstitutional and that the Australian government should immediately begin making arrangements to transfer the men and women from the island. In response Immigration Minister Peter Dutton reiterated the government’s hard-line stance on the issue of illegal immigration, saying “people who have attempted to come illegally by boat and are now in the Manus facility will not be settled in Australia”. So whilst the fate of the 850 immigrants has not yet been decided by the Australian Government, PNG’s government has said it would be willing to take skilled refugees and the New Zealand government said it is willing to take up to 150.

The negative gearing debate continued
The ever-present debate over negative gearing flared up again this week as Malcolm Turnbull went on the offensive against Labor. “They’re jacking up the tax on investment by increasing capital gains tax by 50 per cent – and what they’re proposing on negative gearing will reduce the number of rent-able properties, it will jack up rents, and it will smash home values” said Mr. Turnbull, who confirmed the Liberal Party’s support for negative gearing earlier in the week. Labor’s approach, which would see negative gearing only apply to new housing, has been well received but both sides have been supported by different organisations.

The government blocked a Chinese company from purchasing Australia’s largest beef producers
Treasurer Scott Morrison has blocked a bid by Chinese company Dakang Australia Holdings to buy Australia’s largest beef producer, S. Kidman & Co, as it may be “contrary to national interest”. Morrison’s rejection of the $370 million bid has left the Kidman’s managing director “disappointed and confused” and many in the business community worried over what is being seen as an arbitrary decision. The rejection of the bid has also led to claims of politicking by the Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen, who said that Mr. Morrison was “acting in the National Party’s interest and not the national interest”.