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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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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Should the government ban the import of the Adler A110 lever-action shotgun?

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.

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Should funding for local police departments be redirected to social and community based programs?

“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.

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Should non-violent prisoners be released from jail in order to reduce overcrowding?

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.

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Should convicted criminals have the right to vote?

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.

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Should police departments be allowed to use military grade equipment?

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.

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Should the government hire private companies to run prisons?

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.

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Should drug traffickers receive the death penalty?

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).

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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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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 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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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 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 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 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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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 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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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 the government require employees of large businesses to be vaccinated from COVID?

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.

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Should the government require children to be vaccinated for preventable diseases?

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.

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Do you support the use of nuclear energy?

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.

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Should the government increase spending on public transportation?

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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 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 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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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 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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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 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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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 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 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 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 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 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 employers be required to pay men and women the same salary for the same job?

In 2015 men were paid an estimated 17.2% more than women according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. There is currently no proposed equal pay legislation in the Australian parliament.  Opponents of equal pay laws argue that pay gap statistics don’t take into account women who take jobs that are more family-friendly in terms of benefits rather than wages and that women are more likely to take breaks in employment to care for children or parents. Proponents argue that laws should be passed to even the playing field for women in all parts of the country including Western Australia where the pay gap is 26%.

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Should the government use economic stimulus to aid the country during times of recession?

After the 2008 financial crisis The Rudd Government passed two stimulus packages in an effort to revive the Australian economy. The packages were worth more than a combined $50 billion. Mr. Rudd argued that they helped sustain the economy by boosting retail sales and saving tens of thousands of jobs.

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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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Should workers continue to be paid double wages on Sunday?

In 2015 the Productivity Commission recommended changes to the workplace laws which included removing the requirement that workers in the cafe, hospitality, entertainment, restaurant and retailing industries receive double pay for working on Sundays. The commission argued that the laws were created in a different era when less people shopped and went to church. Opponents, including Unions, argue that the rule change would result in a pay cut for thousands of minimum wage workers who work in cafes, shops and restaurants.

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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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