Answer the following questions to see who you should vote for in the 2019 Barwon Legislative Assembly election.
Global warming, or climate change, is an increase in the earth’s atmospheric temperature since the late nineteenth century. In politics, the debate over global warming is centered on whether this increase in temperature is due to greenhouse gas emissions or is the result of a natural pattern in the earth’s temperature. Australia is currently looking to reduce emissions to 26-28% on 2005 levels by 2030.
In 2016, France became the first country to ban the sale of plastic disposable products that contain less than 50% of biodegradable material and in 2017, India passed a law banning all plastic disposable plastic products.
Australia has large reserves of coal seam gas, especially in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, while large shale gas deposits exist across the Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia. CSG is currently being extracted from the Bowen and Surat Basins in Queensland and the Camden Valley in New South Wales, with numerous exploration wells across the Liverpool Plains and Hunter Valley. To extract the gas, water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure in a process known as "fracking."
Fracking is the process of extracting oil or natural gas from shale rock. Water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure which fractures the rock and allows the oil or gas to flow out to a well. While fracking has significantly boosted oil production, there are environmental concerns that the process is contaminating groundwater. Critics of fracking say it pollutes underground water supplies with chemicals, releases methane gas into the atmosphere, and can cause seismic activity. Proponents of fracking say it will drop oil and gas prices in Spain and lead to energy independence.
Australia is currently the world’s largest exporter of Uranium and currently exports 31% of the global supply. Australia’s current policy is to only sell uranium to countries which have signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
Disposing of low-level nuclear waste, mostly from medical treatment, has become an important issue. In 2009, the Australian government received a consultant’s report that examined Muckaty Station as one of four possible sites for a nuclear waste facility in the Northern Territory. Land owners near Muckaty station opposed the plan in fear that the dumped waste would destroy their lands and environment.
Genetically modified foods (or GM foods) are foods produced from organisms that have had specific changes introduced into their DNA using the methods of genetic engineering. Australia already allows the commercial growing of genetically engineered canola and cotton, making us one of only a handful of countries that commercially grow GE crops. GE canola was commercially released in NSW and Victoria in 2008.
In November 2018 the online e-commerce company Amazon announced it would be building a second headquarters in New York City and Arlington, VA. The announcement came a year after the company announced it would accept proposals from any North American city who wanted to host the headquarters. Amazon said the company could invest over $5 billion and the offices would create up to 50,000 high paying jobs. More than 200 cities applied and offered Amazon millions of dollars in economic incentives and tax breaks. For the New York City headquarters the city and state governments gave Amazon $2.8 billion in tax credits and construction grants. For the Arlington, VA headquarters the city and state governments gave Amazon $500 million in tax breaks. Opponents argue that governments should spend the tax revenue on public projects instead and that the federal government should pass laws banning tax incentives. The European Union has strict laws which prevent member cities from bidding against each other with state aid (tax incentives) in an effort to lure private companies. Proponents argue that the jobs and tax revenue created by the companies eventually offset the cost of any awarded incentives.
In 2015 the Australian government Thursday blocked the sale of a large portfolio of farmland to Chinese investors on national interest grounds. Four separate groups linked to Chinese-based investors were denied from bidding on properties that amounted to 2.5% of Australia’s farming land owned by S. Kidman & Co. The proposed sale had become a test case for how the country balances concerns over foreign ownership with the need for foreign investment in an economy that has slowed sharply due to the collapse in commodity prices this year.
Nuclear power is the use of nuclear reactions that release energy to generate heat, which most frequently is then used in steam turbines to produce electricity in a nuclear power station. Australia currently has no nuclear facilities generating electricity. Australia's extensive, low-cost coal and natural gas reserves have historically been used as strong arguments for avoiding nuclear power. Proponents argue that nuclear energy is now safe and emits much less carbon emissions than coal plants. Opponents argue that recent nuclear disasters in Japan prove that nuclear power is far from safe.
In 2015 Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced that parents would no longer receive welfare payments if their children were not vaccinated. People who object to vaccines for religious purposes can continue to receive payments if they are affiliated with a religious group whose governing body has a formally registered objection recognised by the federal government. 97% of children in Australia are vaccinated.
In most countries, suffrage, the right to vote, is generally limited to citizens of the country. Some countries, however, extend limited voting rights to resident non-citizens.
The U.S. constitution does not prevent convicted felons from holding the office of the President or a seat in the Senate or House of Representatives. States may prevent convicted felons candidates from holding statewide and local offices.
A tax return is a document which states how much income an individual or entity reported to the government. In Australia these documents are considered private and are not released to the public. The Australian Election Commission does not require individuals standing as a candidate to release them. In Sweden, Norway and Finland citizen’s and candidate’s tax records are considered public information and are published on the internet.
Recreational use of illicit drugs including marijuana, cocaine and heroin is currently illegal in Australia. In 1985, the federal and state governments adopted a National Drug Strategy which included a pragmatic mixture of prohibition and a stated objective of harm reduction. Between 1998 and 2007 overall illicit drug use declined close to 40%. Amphetamines use declined by 38%; cannabis use fell by close to 50%; and use of heroin dropped by an impressive 75%. In February 2016 parliament amended the Narcotics Drugs Act, and created a national licensing scheme for the controlled cultivation and testing of medical cannabis.
Candidate quotas is a system in which political parties are penalised for not running a certain percentage of women candidates for office. In 2012 legislation was introduced which would have required parties to field at least 30% women candidates at the next election and 40% at the election after that. If a party failed to meet these thresholds they would lose half of their public funding. Women currently make up 24.7% of the lower house and 38.2% in the upper house. Of 189 developed countries Australia currently ranks 46 out of 189. Proponents of quotas argue that they help promote gender diversity in government and are responsible for a 20% increase in the proportion of women in parliaments worldwide.
The Australian constitution does not currently reference Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The federal government created a council to explore holding a referendum on the subject in May 2017. Proponents, including Prime Minister Turnbull, argue that the original inhabitants of Australia should be recognized in the constitution and all racial elements should be removed. Opponents argue that the government resources should not be wasted on holding a referendum.
Currently the Australian government permits live export trade. The ESCAS welfare assurance system was recently introduced to provide independent oversight on Animal Welfare.
Australia is a constitutional monarchy, with Britain's Queen Elizabeth as head of state. The role is largely ceremonial, but the monarch does have the power to dissolve parliament, as in 1975, when Queen Elizabeth sacked the government. In 1999 a referendum to end the monarchy was defeated by voters 55%-45%.
Flag desecration is any act that is carried out with the intention of damaging or destroying a national flag in public. This is commonly done in an effort to make a political statement against a nation or its policies. Some nations have acts that ban flag desecration while others have laws that protect the right to destroy a flag as a part of free speech. Some of these laws distinguish between a national flag and those of other countries.
In October 2019 Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced that his social media company would ban all political advertising. He stated that political messages on the platform should reach users through the recommendation of other users – not through paid reach. Proponents argue that social media companies don’t have the tools to stop the spread of false information since their advertising platforms aren’t moderated by human beings. Opponents argue that the ban will disenfranchise candidates and campaigns who rely on social media for grassroots organizing and fundraising.
Labor, the Coalition and the Greens support the concept of high-speed rail linking Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, as well as regional areas in between. The parties disagree on whether the project should be a current priority and whether it should be financed federally or by the states.
In 2015, Treasury Secretary John Fraser warned that Australia’s largest cities were experiencing a housing bubble. He warned that the major cause of the bubble was low interest rates and access to easy financing for real estate loans. In 2016 the average price of a home in Sydney passed $1M. Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott argued that increasing house prices in cities were a sign that the economy was healthy.
A term limit is a law which limits the length of time a person may serve in an elected office. In Australia there are no term limits for Prime Ministers, Senators or MPs.
In 2014 the Australian government passed the National Security Amendment bill which granted new surveillance powers to Australia's spy agency, ASIO. Under the legislation, which passed the lower house with support from the main opposition Labor Party, anyone disclosing information about "special intelligence operations" could face a decade in prison.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has the power to enforce content restrictions on Internet content hosted within Australia, and maintain a "black-list" of overseas websites which is then provided for use in filtering software. The restrictions focus primarily on child pornography, sexual violence, and other illegal activities, compiled as a result of a consumer complaints process. In 2009, the OpenNet Initiative found no evidence of Internet filtering in Australia, but due to legal restrictions ONI does not test for filtering of child pornography.
In 2015, the Turnbull government proposed allowing health insurers to cover GP visits and common tests including X-rays. The proposal would transform the Australian healthcare single-payer system into a higher cost US style system. Opponents argue that the system would encourage doctors to charge their patients higher rates. Proponents argue that this will reduce the government’s healthcare costs.
In January 2018 Germany passed the NetzDG law which required platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to take down perceived illegal content within 24 hours or seven days, depending on the charge, or risk a fine of €50 million ($60 million) fines. In July 2018 representatives from Facebook, Google and Twitter denied to the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary committee that they censor content for political reasons. During the hearing Republican members of Congress criticized the social media companies for politically motivated practices in removing some content, a charge the companies rejected. In April 2018 the European Union issued a series of proposals that would crack down on “online misinformation and fake news.” In June 2018 President Emmanuel Macron of France proposed a law which would give French authorities the power to immediately halt “the publication of information deemed to be false ahead of elections.”
In August 2015, Prime Minister Tony Abbott reversed a ban on the import of the A110 lever-action shotgun. This reversed a six-month ban of the gun that the government had enacted in July 2015. Gun rights advocates argue that the gun should not be banned since it is not semi-automatic and widely used by law-abiding hunters and farmers. Anti-gun activists of the gun argue that it is too similar to a semi-automatic weapon since a modified version can fire eleven rounds in eleven seconds and lifting the ban could lead to mass shootings.
“Defund the police” is a slogan that supports divesting funds from police departments and reallocating them to non-policing forms of public safety and community support, such as social services, youth services, housing, education, healthcare and other community resources.
Militarization of police refers to the use of military equipment and tactics by law enforcement officers. This includes the use of armored vehicles, assault rifles, flashbang grenades, sniper rifles, and SWAT teams. Proponents argue that this equipment increases officers’ safety and enables them to better protect the public and other first responders. Opponents argue that police forces which received military equipment were more likely to have violent encounters with the public.
Prison overcrowding is a social phenomenon occurring when the demand for space in prisons in a jurisdiction exceeds the capacity for prisoners.The issues associated with prison overcrowding are not new, and have been brewing for many years. During the United States’ War on Drugs, the states were left responsible for solving the prison overcrowding issue with a limited amount of money. Moreover, federal prison populations may increase if states adhere to federal policies, such as mandatory minimum sentences. On the other hand, the Justice Department provides billions of dollars a year for state and local law enforcement to ensure they follow the policies set forth by the federal government concerning U.S. prisons. Prison overcrowding has affected some states more than others, but overall, the risks of overcrowding are substantial and there are solutions to this problem.
Felony disenfranchisement is the exclusion from voting of people otherwise eligible to vote due to conviction of a criminal offense, usually restricted to the more serious class of crimes deemed felonies. People service sentences of five years or more are not allowed to vote while they are in jail. Disenfranchisement does not continue after release from jail/prison. The Commonwealth Franchise Act 1902 denied the franchise to vote to anyone 'attainted of treason, or who had been convicted and is under sentence or subject to be sentenced for any offence, punishable by imprisonment for one year or longer.' In 1995 the act was relaxed to include only people who are serving prison sentences of more than five years.
Private prisons are incarceration centers that are run by a for-profit company instead of a government agency. The companies that operate private prisons are paid a per-diem or monthly rate for each prisoner they keep in their facilities. In 2018 18.4% of prisoners in Australia were held in private prisons. Opponents of private prisons argue that incarceration is a social responsibility and that entrusting it to for-profit companies is inhumane. Proponents argue that prisons run by private companies are consistently more cost effective than those run by government agencies.
Since 1999, the executions of drug smugglers have become more common in Indonesia, Iran, China and Pakistan. In March 2018, U.S. President Donald Trump proposed executing drug traffickers to fight his country’s opioid epidemic. 32 countries impose the death penalty for drug smuggling. Seven of these countries (China, Indonesia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore) routinely execute drug offenders. Asia and the Middle East’s tough approach contrasts with many Western countries who have legalized cannabis in recent years (selling cannabis in Saudi Arabia is punished by beheading).
On February 24, 2016 the Australian parliament passed an amendment to the Narcotic Drugs Act which legalised medical marijuana. The amendment permits patients with a prescription from a doctor to posses and use medical cannabis. The cannabis must be grown in Australia under the supervision of the local government. Analysts predict that marijuana will be available to patients beginning in 2017.
In September 2021 Italy became the first European Country to make COVID-19 health passes mandatory for all workers. By the end of the same month Canada, the United States, Australia, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia and Turkmenistan all announced similar vaccine mandates. Proponents of the mandate argue that these mandates are the only way to end the global COVID-19 pandemic. Opponents cite evidence that people who already have natural immunity are at heightened risk of vaccine side effects caused by an augmented inflammatory response.
Private health insurance funds private health and is provided by a number of private health insurance organisations, called health funds. The Coalition under Tony pledged to privatise Medibank if it won the 2010 election but was again defeated by Labor. Privatisation was again a Coalition policy for the 2013 election, which the Coalition won.
In 2018, officials in the U.S. city of Philadelphia city proposed opening a “safe haven” in an effort to combat the city's heroin epidemic. In 2016 64,070 people died in the U.S. from drug overdoses - a 21% increase from 2015. 3/4 of drug overdose deaths in the U.S. are caused by the opioid class of drugs which includes prescription painkillers, heroin and fentanyl. To combat the epidemic cities including Vancouver, BC and Sydney, AUS opened safe havens where addicts can inject drugs under the supervision of medical professionals. The safe havens reduce the overdose death rate by insuring the addicted patients are given drugs that are not contaminated or poisoned. Since 2001 5,900 people have overdosed at a safe haven in Sydney, Australia but no one has died. Proponents argue that the safe havens are the only proven solution to lower the overdose fatality rate and prevent the spread of diseases like HIV-AIDS. Opponents argue that safe havens may encourage illegal drug use and re-direct funding from traditional treatment centers.
The World Health Organization was founded in 1948 and is a specialized agency of the United Nations whose main objective is “the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health.” The organization provides technical assistance to countries, sets international health standards and guidelines, and collects data on global health issues through the World Health Survey. The WHO has led global public health efforts including the development of an Ebola Vaccine and the near-eradication of polio and smallpox. The organization is run by a decision-making body composed of representatives from 194 countries. It is funded by voluntary contributions from member countries and private donors. In 2018 and 2019 the WHO had a $5 billion budget and the leading contributors were the United States (15%) , the EU (11%) and the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation (9%). Supporters of the WHO argue that cutting funding will hamper the international fight against the Covid-19 pandemic and sap the U.S. of global influence.
Single-payer healthcare is a system where every citizen pays the government to provide core healthcare services for all residents. Under this system the government may provide the care themselves or pay a private healthcare provider to do so. In a single-payer system all residents receive healthcare regardless of age, income or health status. Countries with single-payer healthcare systems include the U.K., Canada, Taiwan, Israel, France, Belarus, Russia and Ukraine.
Australian hospitals are currently allocated funding on a fixed price for each treatment they provide. Proponents see this plan as making hospitals more efficient and providing an equal level of care. Opponents believe it causes hospitals to offer more expensive treatments in order to maximize their profits.
The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) consumes around 14 percent of total government health care expenditures and has grown substantially in both range of drugs covered, and expenditure since it was first introduced in 1950. Proponents of drug price regulation argue that drug makers raise prices to benefit the value of their stock and invest little of their profits in the development and research of new drugs. Opponents of regulation argue that consumers rely on drug companies to develop new drugs and limiting prices will prevent new lifesaving drugs from being developed.
Since 2009 federal funding for mental health has increased over the past seven years by $1.5 billion. Australia spends 8% of it’s health budget on mental health services. This is less than the majority of developed countries who spend between 12% and 18% of their budget on mental health. Proponents of more spending on mental health point out that schizophrenia is a major problem in Australia’s Aboriginal communities where it is three times higher than in cities.