Should the government increase environmental regulations on businesses to reduce carbon emissions?

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.

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Should disposable products (such as plastic cups, plates, and cutlery) that contain less than 50% of biodegradable material be banned?

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.

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Should researchers be allowed to use animals in testing the safety of drugs, vaccines, medical devices, and cosmetics?

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Should the government allow Coal Seam Gas (CSG) projects in Australia?

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."

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Should the government allow the mining and export of Uranium?

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

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Do you support the use of hydraulic fracking to extract oil and natural gas resources?

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.

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Should cities be allowed to offer private companies economic incentives to relocate?

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.

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Do you support the use of genetically engineered crops and foods?

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.

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Do you support building a nuclear waste storage facility in the Northern Territory?

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.

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Should the government allow the sale of Australian agricultural land and water to foreign buyers?

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.

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Should every 18 year old citizen be required to provide at least one year of military service?

Military Service is currently not required in the Australia. The last conflicted requiring National Service was the Vietnam War in the 1960s and 70s.

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Should Australia accept refugees from Syria?

In September 2015 the federal government announced that Australia would accept 12,000 Syrian refugees Proponents argue that Australia has a duty to join its allies in Europe and accept at least 12,000 refugees. Opponents argue that Australia should stay out of this crisis and accepting refugees from the Middle East leads to a risk of letting terrorists into its borders.

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Should Australia increase or decrease military spending?

In February 2016 the government announced that military spending will increase Military spending will grow by $29.9b through 2026. Australia’s military budget is the 12th largest in the world. The 2016 increase will rank Australia 9th amongst world Defence budgets as a percentage of GDP. Proponents of a larger budget argue that it is necessary due to recent disagreements between the US and China in the South China sea. Critics of a larger budget argue that it sets off an unnecessary arms race and will provoke China into creating a larger naval force to offset it.

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Should Australia allow the U.S. to operate military bases located in Australia.

In 1970 the US military opened the Pine Gap satellite tracking facility in Alice Springs. The facility employs 800 people and is used to control US spy satellites over the Pacific region. In 2013 Edward Snowden revealed documents which showed Pine Gap being used in the controversial PRISM surveillance program. The program collects personal data from major internet companies.

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Should Australia take an aggressive stance against Japanese whalers?

Japan's current whaling program involves killing up to 1035 whales in the Southern Ocean each year for "science".

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Should Australia back the Egyptian military's crackdown against the muslim brotherhood?

In June 2012 Egypt democratically elected its first head of state, Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood. Morsi's term as President lasted less than one year before he was ousted by the Egyptian military in the spring of 2013. Morsi's supporters have since rebelled against the military sending the country into a state of of near civil war.

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Should Australia conduct military strikes against North Korea in order to destroy their long-range missile and nuclear weapons capabilities?

In 2016 the North Korean government reported that it had conducted a ground test of a new rocket engine intended to power the first stage of an intercontinental ballistic missile. The Turnbull government condemned the test a threat to "peace and security … in our region and beyond." Opponents of airstrikes argue that the tests are false flags and that the Chinese will prevent the North Korean government from carrying out airstrikes. Proponents of airstrikes argue that North Korea must be stopped before it has the chance to launch a nuclear missile outside into another continent.

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Should the government attempt to influence foreign elections?

Foreign electoral interventions are attempts by governments, covertly or overtly, to influence elections in another country. A 2016 study by Dov H. Levin concluded that the country intervening in most foreign elections was the United States with 81 interventions, followed by Russia (including the former Soviet Union) with 36 interventions from 1946 to 2000. In July 2018 U.S. Representative Ro Khanna introduced an amendment that would have prevented U.S. intelligence agencies from receiving funding that could be used to interfere in the elections of foreign governments. The amendment would ban U.S. agencies from “hacking foreign political parties; engaging in the hacking or manipulation of foreign electoral systems; or sponsoring or promoting media outside the United States that favors one candidate or party over another.” Proponents of election interference helps keep hostile leaders and political parties out of power. Opponents argue that the amendment would send a message to other foreign countries that the U.S. does not interfere in election and set a global gold standard for preventing election interference. Opponents argue that election interference helps keep hostile leaders and political parties out of power.

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Should Australia increase or decrease foreign aid spending?

In 2014 the Australian government cut the Foreign Aid Budget to $4 billion. This represented a 29% cut of the previous year’s budget of $5.6 billion. According to the treasury the funds would be redirected to Defence and national security. Proponents of aid cuts say the funds are better used for domestic programs and anti-terror efforts on behalf of the military. Opponents of the cuts argue that the current reduction is too drastic and Australia should match the higher aid spending of other developed countries like the UK.

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Do you support the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement?

In December 2015 the Australian and Chinese governments agreed to a bilateral Free Trade agreement. The agreement made 95% of all Australian exports into China tariff-free including agricultural products such as beef and dairy. Opponents of the deal included Unions who argued that it posed the risk of shipping jobs to China since it did not contain any labour market testing requirements. Proponents argue that the deal will grow the economy by giving exporters greater access to the expanding Chinese economy.

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Should citizens lose their citizenship if they join a terrorist organization in a foreign country?

In 2016 the government expanded section 35 of the Citizenship Act to revoke the citizenship of any Australian who joins a foreign terrorist group. The measure includes Australians with single and dual citizenship and was proposed after several Australian nationals joined ISIS in the Middle East. The previous law revokes citizenship if Australians take up arms with the militaries of ‘enemy states’ but does not cover foreign terrorist organziations. Opponents include human rights groups and constitutional lawyers who argue that the law allows foreign governments to accuse people of terrorism for minor acts including graffiti and sit in protests. Proponents argue that the law is necessary to prevent terrorists re-entering the country.

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Should Australia maintain a presence at the United Nations?

The UN. is an organization of governments founded in 1945 after World War II. The organization's objectives include promoting peace and security, protecting human rights and the environment and providing humanitarian aid in cases of famine, natural disaster, and armed conflict. Recent U.N. interventions include the Sri Lankan civil war in 2009 and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Australia joined the U.N. in 1945 as a founding member nation. Australia is the twelfth largest financial contributor to the UN and contributes $30 million annually.

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Are you in favour of decriminalising drug use?

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.

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Should the government allow the export of live animals to foreign countries?

Currently the Australian government permits live export trade. The ESCAS welfare assurance system was recently introduced to provide independent oversight on Animal Welfare.

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Should political parties be required to run a certain percentage of women candidates?

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.

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Should the government regulate social media sites, as a means to prevent fake news and misinformation?

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.”

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Should the federal government invest in the construction of a high speed rail?

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.

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Should it be illegal to burn the Australian flag?

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.

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Should social media companies ban political advertising?

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.

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Should the government pass laws which protect whistleblowers?

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Should health insurers be allowed to cover GP visits?

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.

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Should there be term limits for Senators?

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.

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Should the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) raise interest rates to prevent a housing bubble?

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.

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Should Australia end the monarchy and become a republic?

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%.

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Should the constitution recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people?

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.

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Should the government be able to monitor phone calls and emails?

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.

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Should the government regulate the internet?

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.

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Do you support the legalisation of Marijuana?

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.

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Should cities open drug “safe havens” where people who are addicted to illegal drugs can use them under the supervision of medical professionals?

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.

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Should there be more or less privatisation of hospital and healthcare services?

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.

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Do you support a single-payer healthcare system?

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.

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Should hospitals continue to be funded on fee-for-service model?

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.

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Should the government fund the World Health Organization?

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.

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Should the government require people to wear face masks in public during the COVID pandemic?

In 2020 face masks were mandated by certain countries as a control measure against the spread of SARS-CoV-2. As of early May 2020, 88% of the world's population lived in countries that recommend or mandated the use of masks in public. Opponents argue that masks do little to combat the virus since most people do not wear them properly. Proponents argue that a mask mandate would help stop the spread of CV19 and prevent tens of thousands of deaths.

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Should the government regulate the prices of life-saving drugs?

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.

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Should nurse to patient ratios be increased?

In 2019, NSW Labor party Michael Daley proposed a tax on luxury cars worth more than $100,000 and yachts worth more than $200,000 to raise $240 million. The additional tax review would be used to increase funding for nurse staffing. The proposal would insure one nurse for every three patients in major emergency departments, one midwife for every three mothers in postnatal wards and one nurse to each patient in adult and pediatric resuscitation beds.

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Should the government increase funding for mental health research and treatment?

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.

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Are you in favour of universal dental care?

In 2012 the government implemented a dental plan that would allocate $4 billion in funding through 2018. The program will provide dental services to children, Medicare recipients and low income adults who live in rural areas.

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Should the government increase spending on public transportation?

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Do you support the legalisation of same sex marriage?

Gay marriage, also known as same-sex marriage, is the marriage between two people of the same sex. The Australian government outlawed same-sex marriage when it passed the Marriage Act of 1961. The act stated that the government would not recognise same-sex marriages, traditional Aboriginal marriages or polygamous marriages. In 2016 the leaders of Australia’s major political parties voiced their support for legalizing same-sex marriage though a formal bill has yet to be introduced.

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