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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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 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 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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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 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 welfare recipients be tested for drugs?

In 2014 the government denied a proposal to subject welfare recipients to drug testing. Proponents including Liberal-National Party MP George Christensen argued that anyone receiving taxpayer funded benefits should be able to demonstrate that they are drug-free. Opponents, including Greens MP Adam Bandt, argued that if welfare recipients were subject to testing MPs should be as well.

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Should the government raise taxes on the rich?

The top income tax bracket in Australia includes all incomes over $181,000 and is taxed between 30.3% and 45%. Individuals making $180,000 are taxed $65,000 plus $.45 for each $1 earned over $180,000. An individual making more than $500,000 would pay a tax rate of 59% in Australia, 57% in the UK, 60% in the US and 73% in Brazil.

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Should the government make cuts to public spending in order to reduce the national debt?

The 2015 Australian Federal Budget was the eight in a row which contained a budget deficit. The deficit grew 7% to $37.4 billion. A $4.4 billion family aid package, a $5.5 billion small business package and slowing mineral exports were the largest contributors to the increased deficit. The largest cuts were made to foreign aid which decreased by 29% from 2014. Proponents of deficit reduction argue that governments who do not control budget deficits and debt are at risk of losing their ability to borrow money at affordable rates. Opponents of deficit reduction argue that government spending would increase demand for goods and services and help avert a dangerous fall into deflation, a downward spiral in wages and prices that can cripple an economy for years.

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Should the government raise the federal minimum wage?

The federal minimum wage is the lowest wage at which employers may pay their employees. In 2015 the minimum wage increased by 2.5 percent to $16 per week. Proponents of a higher minimum argue that the 2.5% increase in 2015 is not high enough to cover basic costs like healthcare and education which are increasing by 5% a year. Opponents argue that raising the minimum wage will increase unemployment and make it harder for lower income workers to find jobs.

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Should there be fewer or more restrictions on current welfare benefits?

In 2011 the level of public spending on the welfare state by the British Government accounted for £113.1 billion, or 16% of government. By 2020 welfare spending will rise to 1/3rd of all spending making it the largest expense followed by housing benefit, council tax benefit, benefits to the unemployed, and benefits to people with low incomes.

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Do you believe trade unions help or hurt the economy?

Since 1996 Union membership in Australia has dropped from 40% of all workers to 15%. Unions bargain on behalf of workers over wages, benefits, working conditions for their membership. Larger unions also typically engage in lobbying activities and electioneering at the state and federal level.

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Should Australia raise or lower the tax rate for corporations?

Australia’s corporate tax rate is currently 30%. Due to loopholes and offshore headquarters many companies in Australia pay significantly less with 1/3rd of major corporations paying no taxes at all. Some economists argue that the tax should be abolished in place of higher taxes on certain high earning individuals and stock market transactions.

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Should the government ban negative gearing?

Negative gearing is the practice of using losses on property investments to reduce taxable income. In 2013, approximately 1.3 million Australians used the concession. Data shows that high income earners write off much larger percentages of their taxes than those who earn lower wages. In 2012, surgeons wrote off $4,161 of their taxes using negative gearing while teachers wrote off $327. Proponents, including Malcolm Turnbull, argue that the practice has been part of Australian tax law since 1915 and is not a tax break since the real estate investor is taking a loss to their assets. Opponents argue that the policy disproportionately benefits Australians in high-paying occupations, not those of average incomes, since they are much more likely to own investment properties.

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If their projects involve water, should coal companies be subject to additional government regulations?

The Australian government has recently passed legislation which means any new CSG or large coal projects potentially linked to water reservoirs will need assessment by an expert committee before being approved.

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Do you support a universal basic income program?

A Universal Basic Income program is social security program where all citizens of a country receive a regular, unconditional sum of money from the government. The funding for Universal Basic Income comes from taxation and government owned entities including income from endowments, real estate and natural resources. Several countries, including Finland, India and Brazil, have experimented with a UBI system but have not implemented a permanent program. The longest running UBI system in the world is the Alaska Permanent Fund in the U.S. state of Alaska. In the Alaska Permanent Fund each individual and family receives a monthly sum that is funded by dividends from the state’s oil revenues. Proponents of UBI argue that it will reduce or eliminate poverty by providing everyone with a basic income to cover housing and food. Opponents argue that a UBI would be detrimental to economies by encouraging people to either work less or drop out of the workforce entirely.

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Do you support Malcolm Turnbull’s $50 billion corporate tax cut?

In June 2016, Malcolm Turnbull proposed a 10 year $50 billion corporate tax cut. If re-elected, Turnbull would reduce the tax rate on companies who earn less than $10 million by 1% to 27.5%. The following year the tax cut would apply to companies who earn less than $25m. Turnbull plans to pay for the cuts by reducing the number of superannuation tax concessions.

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Should the government subsidise Australian farmers?

Australia farmers currently receive approximately 4% of their income in subsidies from the government. Farmers in the European receive 35% of their incomes in subsidies and farmers in the U.S. receive 28%. Proponents of higher subsidies argue that they are necessary to compete with agriculture exports from other western countries. Opponents argue that the farmers should fend for themselves and point out that 2,300 farmers who do not grow crops receive annual subsidies

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Do you support an increase in the mineral resources rent tax?

The Minerals Resource Rent Tax came into effect on July 1, 2012. It is a 22.5 per cent tax on the profits of iron ore and coal projects but only applies to profits over $75 million. There have been calls on different sides to both abolish and expand the tax.

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Should Australian citizens be allowed to save or invest their money in offshore bank accounts?

An offshore (or foreign) bank account is a bank account you have outside of your country of residence. The benefits of an offshore bank account include tax reduction, privacy, currency diversification, asset protection from lawsuits, and reducing your political risk. In April 2017, Wikileaks released 11.5 million confidential documents, known as the Panama Papers, which provided detailed information on 214,000 offshore companies serviced by the Panamanian Law Firm, Mossack Fonesca. The document exposed how world leaders and wealthy individuals hide money in secret offshore tax shelters. The release of the documents renewed proposals for laws banning the use of offshore accounts and tax havens. The Australian Tax Office identified more than 800 individuals who were using the law firms services. Proponents of the of the ban argue they should be outlawed because they have a long history of being vehicles for tax evasion, money laundering, illicit arms dealing and funding terrorism. Opponents of the ban argue that punitive regulations will make it harder for Austrian companies to compete and will further discourage businesses from locating and investing in the United States.

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Should the Australian government continue to invest billions of dollars into the development of the National Broadband Network?

The National Broadband Network is currently under construction and will eventually provide fast internet access to a majority of Australians. By July 2016 25% of all homes will have access to the network. 75% of all homes should have access by the fall of 2018. Opponents of the network argue that the project is severely over budget and should be turned over to private companies. Proponents of the network argue that fast internet at a low cost is necessary to grow the Australian economy.

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Should the government add or increase tariffs on products imported into the country?

A tariff is a tax on imports or exports between countries.

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Should bankers’ bonuses be capped at 100% of their pay?

In 2014, the EU passed legislation that capped bankers' bonuses at 100% of their pay or 200% with shareholder approval. There are currently no caps on banker's pay in Australia. Proponents of the cap say that it will reduce incentives for bankers to take excessive risk similar to what led to the 2008 financial crisis. Opponents say that any cap on bankers' pay will push up non-bonus pay and cause bank's costs to rise.

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Should the government reinstate the Building and Construction Commission (ABCC)?

In 2015 the Senate blocked the passage of a bill which would have restored the Building and Construction Commission. The agency was responsible for monitoring and promoting workplace relations in the building and construction industry. The ABCC provided education, investigated workplace complaints and enforced compliance with national workplace laws in the industry. The agency was abolished in 2012 after unions successfully lobbied the government to dismantle it.

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Should the government increase spending on public transportation?

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Should foreigners, currently residing in Australia, have the right to vote?

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.

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Should a politician, who has been formerly convicted of a crime, be allowed to run for office?

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.

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Should the minimum voting age be lowered?

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Should political candidates be required to release their recent tax returns to the public?

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.

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Should corporations, unions, and non-profit organizations be allowed to donate to political parties?

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Should political parties receive money from the government?

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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 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 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 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 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 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 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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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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