Answer the following questions to see who you should vote for in the 2019 Paterson House of Representatives election.
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.
Currently the Australian government permits live export trade. The ESCAS welfare assurance system was recently introduced to provide independent oversight on Animal Welfare.
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.
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.
Labor, the Coalition and the Greens support the concept of high-speed rail linking Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, as well as regional areas in between. The parties disagree on whether the project should be a current priority and whether it should be financed federally or by the states.
In 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.
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.
A term limit is a law which limits the length of time a person may serve in an elected office. In Australia there are no term limits for Prime Ministers, Senators or MPs.
In January 2018 Germany passed the NetzDG law which required platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to take down perceived illegal content within 24 hours or seven days, depending on the charge, or risk a fine of €50 million ($60 million) fines. In July 2018 representatives from Facebook, Google and Twitter denied to the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary committee that they censor content for political reasons. During the hearing Republican members of Congress criticized the social media companies for politically motivated practices in removing some content, a charge the companies rejected. In April 2018 the European Union issued a series of proposals that would crack down on “online misinformation and fake news.” In June 2018 President Emmanuel Macron of France proposed a law which would give French authorities the power to immediately halt “the publication of information deemed to be false ahead of elections.”
In 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.
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%.
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.
In 2014 the Australian government passed the National Security Amendment bill which granted new surveillance powers to Australia's spy agency, ASIO. Under the legislation, which passed the lower house with support from the main opposition Labor Party, anyone disclosing information about "special intelligence operations" could face a decade in prison.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has the power to enforce content restrictions on Internet content hosted within Australia, and maintain a "black-list" of overseas websites which is then provided for use in filtering software. The restrictions focus primarily on child pornography, sexual violence, and other illegal activities, compiled as a result of a consumer complaints process. In 2009, the OpenNet Initiative found no evidence of Internet filtering in Australia, but due to legal restrictions ONI does not test for filtering of child pornography.
In 2015 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.
Nuclear power is the use of nuclear reactions that release energy to generate heat, which most frequently is then used in steam turbines to produce electricity in a nuclear power station. Australia currently has no nuclear facilities generating electricity. Australia's extensive, low-cost coal and natural gas reserves have historically been used as strong arguments for avoiding nuclear power. Proponents argue that nuclear energy is now safe and emits much less carbon emissions than coal plants. Opponents argue that recent nuclear disasters in Japan prove that nuclear power is far from safe.
In 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.
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.
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.
Private prisons are incarceration centers that are run by a for-profit company instead of a government agency. The companies that operate private prisons are paid a per-diem or monthly rate for each prisoner they keep in their facilities. In 2018 18.4% of prisoners in Australia were held in private prisons. Opponents of private prisons argue that incarceration is a social responsibility and that entrusting it to for-profit companies is inhumane. Proponents argue that prisons run by private companies are consistently more cost effective than those run by government agencies.
Since 1999, the executions of drug smugglers have become more common in Indonesia, Iran, China and Pakistan. In March 2018, U.S. President Donald Trump proposed executing drug traffickers to fight his country’s opioid epidemic. 32 countries impose the death penalty for drug smuggling. Seven of these countries (China, Indonesia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore) routinely execute drug offenders. Asia and the Middle East’s tough approach contrasts with many Western countries who have legalized cannabis in recent years (selling cannabis in Saudi Arabia is punished by beheading).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
A tariff is a tax on imports or exports between countries.
In most countries, suffrage, the right to vote, is generally limited to citizens of the country. Some countries, however, extend limited voting rights to resident non-citizens.
The U.S. constitution does not prevent convicted felons from holding the office of the President or a seat in the Senate or House of Representatives. States may prevent convicted felons candidates from holding statewide and local offices.
A tax return is a document which states how much income an individual or entity reported to the government. In Australia these documents are considered private and are not released to the public. The Australian Election Commission does not require individuals standing as a candidate to release them. In Sweden, Norway and Finland citizen’s and candidate’s tax records are considered public information and are published on the internet.
In April 2021 the legislature of the U.S. State of Arkansas introduced a bill that prohibited doctors from providing gender-transition treatments to people under 18 years old. The bill would make it a felony for doctors to administer puberty blockers, hormones and gender-reaffirming surgery to anyone under the age of 18. Opponents of the bill argue that it is an assault on transgender rights and that transition treatments are a private matter that should be decided between parents, their children and doctors. Supporters of the bill argue that children are too young to make the decision to receive gender transition treatment and only adults over the age of 18 should be allowed to do so.
Abortion is a medical procedure resulting in the termination of a human pregnancy and death of a fetus. Abortion is legal in Australia in every state except for Queensland and New South Wales. Abortion is legal in every state if it is needed to protect the life of the mother.
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.
LGBT adoption is the adoption of children by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons. This may be in the form of a joint adoption by a same-sex couple, adoption by one partner of a same-sex couple of the other's biological child (step-child adoption) and adoption by a single LGBT person. Joint adoption by same-sex couples is legal in 25 countries. Opponents of LGBT adoption question whether same-sex couples have the ability to be adequate parents while other opponents question whether natural law implies that children of adoption possess a natural right to be raised by heterosexual parents. Since constitutions and statutes usually fail to address the adoption rights of LGBT persons, judicial decisions often determine whether they can serve as parents either individually or as couples.