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List of media issues analyses published in 2018

The 2018 media issue outlines compilation is now complete. Publication of 2019 outlines will commence in March.
Victorian Certificate of Education English students will, in the meantime, find specially-marked outlines below suitable for VCE date-specific tasks.

2018/22: Should religious schools be able to exclude LGBTI students and teachers?
On October 9, 2018, the recommendations of the Ruddock Review (officially known as the Religious Review Expert Panel) were leaked to the media. Among the Panel's recommendations were that the exemptions currently granted under federal anti-discrimination law, allowing religious schools to discriminate against homosexual students and teachers, be clarified and retained.
The leaked recommendations provoked an uproar as they highlighted the current capacity of religious schools to exclude LGBTI students and teachers. With regard to students, this is a power that is very infrequently used and which politicians, the media and the public at large appear either to have largely ignored or been unaware of.
The Labor Opposition immediately condemned these recommendations, focusing particularly on the apparent power of religious schools to expel students on the basis of the sexual orientation, however they also defended the right of LGBTI teachers to be employed within religious schools. On December 13, 2018, the government announced that it had accepted fifteen of the twenty recommendations made by Ruddock Review. The remaining five would be further examined; these included the recommendations relating to the exclusion of LGBTI students and teachers by religious schools.
The debate has revolved primarily around the rights of LGBTI students to be accepted within religious schools in Australia; however, the question of the employment rights of LGBTI teachers within religious schools will be revisited in 2019.

2018/21: Should Japan resume commercial whaling?
On December 26, 2018, Japan announced that it would withdraw from the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and recommence commercial whaling by June 30, 2019.
The government's chief spokesperson, Yoshihide Suga, indicated that the country's fleet would confine its whale hunts to Japanese territorial waters and exclusive economic zone (EEZ), adding that its controversial annual expeditions to the Southern Ocean would end.
Japan's decision has met with condemnation from a range of governments, including Australia, and has been similarly opposed by many conservation groups. There has, however, been gratification expressed that Japan will no longer be whaling in the Southern Ocean. Japan has defended its action as doing no more than responsibly harvesting a renewable food source and has suggested its decision was dictated by the IWC's refusal to allow commercial whaling, despite the IWC's initial purpose being sustainably to manage the whaling industry.

2018/20: Should Australia ban plastic straws?
The movement toward banning plastic straws in Australia is growing.On November 18, 2018, the Australian Hotels Association Victoria announced that its members would now only give straws to customers on request at bars, pubs and other venues, while the South Melbourne Market will ban plastic straws from December 1. On September 10, 2018, Virgin Australia announced that plastic straws and stirrers have been removed from its in-flight and lounge operations.
On August 8, 2018, the Australian burger chain, Grill'd, removed all black plastic straws from its 130 restaurants. On July 18, 2018, McDonalds Australia announced that it would phase out plastic straws in its restaurants over the next two years.
Conservation advocates have stressed that plastic straws epitomise the contamination of the marine environment through the use of unnecessary plastic products. However, disability advocacy groups argue that these products are essential, at least to some within the community.

2018/19: Should facial recognition cameras be used in schools?
On October 5, 2018, it was reported that Victoria's Education Minister, James Merlino, had directed the Education Department to assess immediately the facial recognition software currently being trialled in some Victorian private schools. He also asked the Department to contact every Victorian state school to remind them that they must undertake a privacy impact assessment before considering the software.
The software was due to be trialled in some Victorian state schools; however, the Minister's statement appears to have delayed this process.
In August, 2018, it was reported that facial recognition technology, used for roll marking, was being trialled by a small number of Victorian private schools.
On February 14, 2018, seventeen students were killed in a school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Florida. These deaths appear to have provided a significant impetus for the trial or uptake of facial recognition systems by schools in the United States that are intended to increase the safety of students.
Reports have also been published of schools in China, and one business college in France, using facial recognition technology to monitor student engagement.
All these uses of the technology have convinced advocates and critics anxious about their privacy and other implications.

2018/18: Should Australians opt out of My Health Record?
The My Health Record is an online summary of an individual's health information which began to be established in 2016. It is intended to supply a centralised record of a patient's medical history which can be easily accessed and used by a range of medical practitioners.
On November 14, 2018, the federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt, extended the opt-out period for the My Health Record system until January 31, 2019.
Those Medicare card holders who do not make a choice by the new cut-off date, will have a My Health Record automatically created for them.
About six million Australians already have records and about 1.15 million have decided to opt out. About 300,000 have opted in and about 17 million are expected to be automatically enrolled once the deadline passes.
Software analysts, civil libertarians, unions and advocates for victims of family violence have raised privacy and security concerns about the system. On the other hand, some health groups have stressed its benefits in helping clinicians access patient health records and so provide more effective care..

2018/17: Should sharks be culled off the Whitsundays on the central Queensland coast?
On November 9, 2018, Queensland's Tourism Minister, Kate Jones, and Fisheries Minister, Mark Furner, met with local tourism operators, marine experts and the Whitsundays council to hold emergency discussions regarding the shark problem in the area. On the same day, the NLP Member for Hinkler and former assistant trade and tourism minister, Keith Pitt, called for an immediate cull. Pitt demanded contractors be given an open permit to hunt sharks, which later could be cut back once the shark population had been reduced.

2018/16: Should mobile phones be banned in schools?
On December 13, 2018, the New South Wales government announced that mobile phones will be banned from public primary schools across the state from the start of the 2019 school year.
The New South Wales Department of Education will provide guidelines to schools about exactly how the ban will work; however, it is believed students will not be able to have access to mobile phones during the day.
On December 10, 2018, the federal Education Minister, Dan Tehan, delivered a speech at the Australian National University's conference on preparing young people for education beyond Year 12, in which he flagged the possibility of mobile phones being banned from Australian classrooms in the name of improving student performance.
In September, 2018, a new law came into effect in France outlawing mobile phone use by students up to the age of 15. The legislation also bans tablets and smart watches.
The New South Wales' decision has sparked extensive debate within that state, with academics, school principals, teachers and parents all taking up positions on both sides of the question. The issue is a vigorously contested one across Australia and overseas.

2018/15: Should the sails of the Sydney Opera House be used for advertising?
On October 5, 2018, Louise Herron, the chief executive of the Sydney Opera House, clashed with Sydney radio talkback host, Alan Jones, who called for her sacking for placing limitations on the manner in which Racing New South Wales could use the Opera House sails to advertise The Everest Cup.
Later that day, the New South Wales premier, Gladys Berejiklian, announced the sails would be used as part of a promotion for the horserace, overriding some of the limitations that Herron had wanted imposed.
The dispute escalated to include a range of political leaders. Some, including the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, supported the use of the sails for advertising, and others, such as Sydney Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, opposed this use of the building.
Various architectural authorities and cultural spokespeople joined the opposition, while a petition rejecting the use of the sails for this purpose attracted more than 300,000 signatures.
In the event, the advertising promotion for the Everest Cup went ahead; however, the larger question of the degree to which the Opera House should be commercialised continues to be debated.

2018/14: Should school students take strike action over climate change?
On November 30, 2018, thousands of students from hundreds of schools across metropolitan and regional Australia struck from school to demand their politicians act urgently to stop further climate change. Their protest focussed on the Adani coal mine.
Thirty major strike events took place across the country, in every capital city and almost 20 regional centres including Townsville, the Whitsundays, Inverell, Coffs Harbour, Ballarat, Newcastle and Bega. Instead of going to school, students assembled at their nearest Parliament House or Federal MP's office. Some strikes had occurred on previous days.
The strikes were organised by a loose coalition of students titled 'School Strike 4 Climate Action'. The 'School Strike 4 Climate Action' movement was inspired by 15-year-old Swedish student, Greta Thunberg, who struck from school to protest about the impact of climate change on her country and the world.
The Australian students' actions met with a mixed response. While some politicians, such as the Greens' leader, Adam Bandt, congratulated them on their environmental awareness, others considered the students misguided and ill-informed.

2018/13: Should daylight saving be abolished?
On November 6, 2018, as part of the United States Midterm Election, nearly 60 per cent of Californian voters supported Proposition 7, a measure that gives the state legislature the ability to establish Daylight Saving Time (DST) all year-round. This would mean no more turning clocks an hour forward or back - clocks would remain an hour forward, even in the wintertime, giving more darkness in the morning and less at night.
For the permanent establishment of daylight saving to come into effect the change will have to be supported by a two-thirds majority vote in the Californian state legislature.
Two months earlier, on August 31, 2018, the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, announced that millions of Europeans surveyed on having DST operate all year had voted in support of the proposal. 84 per cent of 4.6 million respondents called for ending the spring and autumn clock change. The Commission's proposal requires support from the 28 national governments and Members of the European Parliament to become law.

2018/12: Should the Liberal Party use quotas to get more women into Parliament?
On September 12, 2018, Liberal MP Julia Banks joined those calling for quotas within the Liberal party to increase the number of Liberal women in the federal parliament. Ms Banks stated, 'It's really simple, if you only have a man running and there's no woman, find one. They're out there.'
On September 10, 2018, former Liberal frontbencher Craig Laundy, who quit the ministry when Malcolm Turnbull was removed as prime minister, also called for quotas, while on September 6, 2018, Sussan Ley, Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Territories in the Morrison Liberal government, similarly called for quotas.
These demands from within the Liberal party have been supported by former Labor Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, who has urged the Liberal party to rethink its position on quotas. Liberal Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, while supporting measures being taken to increase the number of women within the parliamentarian Liberal Party, is opposed to quotas, believing that gender should not take priority over merit.

2018/11: Should Australian schoolchildren be able to remain seated during the national anthem?
On September 12, 2018, it was reported that a nine-year old girl, Harper Nielsen, had been given an after-school detention and warned of possible suspension after repeatedly refusing to stand while Australia's national anthem, 'Advance Australia Fair', was being played at her Queensland primary school.
The report, initially published in The Courier Mail, provoked widespread reaction. Politicians such as One Nation federal senator for Queensland, Pauline Hanson, and Jarrod Bleijie, Queensland's shadow minister for education, have been highly critical of Harper Nielsen's actions. Similar disapproval has been voiced by media personalities and commentators such as Sydney 2GB's talkback presenter, Alan Jones, and Channel 9's Today co-host, Karl Stefanovic.
Harper Nielsen has, however, attracted significant support from Indigenous groups and spokespeople and from a variety of media commentators and sportspeople.
The schoolgirl's actions and the response they have received has been covered in a number of overseas media outlets.

2018/10: Should Australian supermarkets have withdrawn free, lightweight plastic bags?
On September 18, 2018, Coles announced that it was banning the use of trolleys at the self-service registers of some stores with the aim of decreasing congestion. This initiative has come on top of both Coles and Woolworths withdrawing free, single-use plastic bags from their outlets.
On June 20, 2018, Woolworths withdrew the single-use plastic bags from its stores nation-wide. Reusable bags were sold for a minimum of 15 cents.
On June 29, 2018, in response to customer dissatisfaction, Woolworths announced that it would make reusable plastic bags freely available to customers who either forgot their own bags or did not have enough.
On July 1, 2018, Coles also withdrew its free, single-use plastic bags. Coles also began by charging a minimum of 15 cents for reusable bags.
However, on August 1, 2018, following further customer complaints, Coles announced that they would continue to offer free plastic bags indefinitely.
On August 29, 2018, Coles reintroduced a minimum 15 cent charge on its reusable plastic bags.
Both stores had announced these intended withdrawal of the free, lightweight plastic bags the year before in July, 2017.
The plastic bag withdrawal drew complaints from irate customers who considered the removal of the bags hypocritical, as both stores continued to sell plastic-wrapped products. Coles also introduced a 'Big Little Shop' campaign that involved miniature plastic replicas of grocery products being given away as a customer incentive.
Critical customers were also suspicious that the bag withdrawal was designed to boost store profits as bags that were formerly given away were now being charged for.
Similar complaints of highhandedness and a pre-occupation with profit margins have been made regarding the banning of trolleys at the self-service registers of some Coles stores.
The initiative raises questions regarding the relative role of governments and industry in the reduction of plastic waste.

2018/09: Should Australia continue live animal exports?
On April 8, 2018, Channel Nine's 60 Minutes aired a program based on footage supplied by the activist group Animals Australia. The footage showed sheep in various stages of distress on a livestock carrier bound for the Middle East in August 2017.
The footage was accompanied by an Agriculture Department report on the ship's journey showing that 2,400 sheep out of a total load of 64,000 had died of heat stress, doubling the Government 'approved' death rate of two per cent, or 1,280 in a shipment of 64,000 animals.
Prior to the 60 Minutes telecast, the footage was presented by Animals Australia to the Federal Agriculture Minister, David Littleproud, who expressed his shock at the images of dead and dying animals. 'This cannot go on,' the Minister told an ABC reporter.
Mr Littleproud declared that he was not aware of the situation until the footage was given to him, despite the fact that the Agriculture Department report had been available a week earlier.
Both the live cattle and live sheep export industries have been mired in allegations of unavoidable cruelty for decades, with attempted reforms deemed inadequate by animal conservation groups and others.
In May, 2018, so-called 'rebel' Liberal backbenchers Sussan Ley, Sarah Henderson and Jason Wood moved to have live sheep exports banned in response to a further government attempt to reform the industry. The Labor Opposition has pledged to phase out live sheep exports if elected to government.

2018/08: Should Australians be legally able to carry non-lethal weapons for self-defence?
On June 18, 2018, Victorian MP with the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, Jeffery Bourman, posted on Facebook that he would be putting a motion before the Victorian Legislative Council to ensure 'that all practical and reasonable methods of self-defence are available to those who want them'. Mr Bourman wrote, 'I want people to have the option of non-lethal methods of self-defence such as pepper spray and stun guns.' The motion was filed the following day.
On June 28, 2018, senator Fraser Anning, of Katter's Australian Party, moved a motion in the federal Senate calling on the government to relax import laws affecting tasers, pepper spray and Mace in response to crimes against women. The senator wants state governments to legalise and promote the carrying of pepper spray, mace and tasers by women to be used in self-defence. The federal motion was defeated 46 to five.
Both motions appear to have been immediately in response to the death of Eurydice Dixon, a 22-year-old Melbourne comedian whose body was found in Princes Park, early on the morning of June 13, 2018. A 19-year-old man has since confessed to her rape and murder. The young woman's death has provoked extensive debate within Australia as to how women's safety might best be secured. In Victoria, this most recent death has been seen in conjunction with the deaths of Jill Meagher and Masa Vukotic, both young women killed since 2012 in random outdoor attacks in Melbourne.

2018/07: Catholic priests and the mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse: should admissions made in the Confessional have to be reported?
On June 7, 2017, it was reported that the Australian Capital Territory is expanding its reportable conduct scheme regarding child abuse to include information obtained as part of church services, which will include Catholic Confession. The new laws will require religious organisations' 'activities, facilities, programs or services' to report allegations, offences or convictions related to children to the ACT Ombudsman within 30 days and will come into effect from March 31, 2019. Archbishop Christopher Prowse of Canberra and Goulburn immediately criticised the change as likely to be ineffectual in reducing child abuse and as a threat to religious freedom. On June 14, 2018, it was reported that as of October 1, 2018, changes will also come into effect in South Australia's mandatory reporting laws which will require priests to report information regarding child abuse obtained during Confession. Federal Attorney-General, Christian Porter, urged all states and territories to follow South Australia's lead as part of the response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Bishop Greg O'Kelly, the Acting Archbishop of Adelaide, denounced the new laws indicating that priests would adhere to their religious obligations not the demands of the state.

2018/06: Should Australia ban the sale and production of bottled water?
In March, 2018, a study was released revealing plastics contamination in the vast majority of bottled water brands tested. The research was conducted on behalf of Orb Media, a United States-based non-profit journalism organisation. Professor Sherri Mason, a microplastics researcher, who carried out the laboratory work at the State University of New York, tested 259 bottles of water purchased in nine countries. The 11 brands tested include the world's dominant suppliers - Nestle Pure Life, Aquafina, Dasani, Evian, San Pellegrino and Gerolsteiner - as well as major national brands across Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas. Researchers found 93 per cent of all bottles tested contained some sort of microplastic, including polypropylene, polystyrene, nylon and polyethylene terephthalate (PET).
In May, 2018, a bottled water contractor lodged a development application with the Gold Coast City Council to extract underground water, less than 700m from the world heritage-listed Springbrook National Park. This application has met with local opposition as have numbers of other similar contracts around Australia allowing water bottlers to extract water which communities believe is needed to maintain the environment and for agriculture.

2018/05: The Barnaby Joyce scandal: should ministers be banned from having affairs with parliamentary staffers?
On February 15, 2018, the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, made an addition to the Australian Government's 'Statement of Ministerial Standards', otherwise known as the ministerial code of conduct.
The addition, Standard 2.24, states, 'Ministers must not engage in sexual relations with their staff. Doing so will constitute a breach of this code.' It was introduced under the subheading: 'Other relationships' on page 8 of the Standards.
Mr Turnbull also supplied a new foreword to the Standards.

2018/04: Are the claims Victoria has an African gang problem exaggerated?
On January 3, 2018, the federal Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton, called on Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, to take action against what the Minister termed 'African gang violence' which he claimed was prevalent in Victoria. On December 31, 2017, similar remarks had been made by the federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt, who had stated 'We know that African gang crime in some areas in particular is clearly out of control.' Similar remarks were made by the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, who, without making specific reference to 'African gangs', stated, 'We are very concerned at the growing gang violence and lawlessness in Victoria, in particular in Melbourne.'

2018/03: Should Victoria introduce a Serious Sex Offender Public Register?
On February 12, 2018, the Victoria Opposition leader, Matthew Guy, and the shadow law and order minister, Edward Donohue, issued a media release announcing the Victorian Opposition's 'Serious Sex Offenders Public Register'. Under the scheme, Victorians would be able to apply to access descriptions, photographs and the current suburb of anyone convicted of serious sex offences. They would also be able to check if someone who has close contact with their children had a history of sex crimes. A dedicated commissioner would run the database and decide whether to grant access to individuals who applied.

2018/02: Has the response to Australian test cricketers' ball-tampering been an over-reaction?
On Saturday, March 24, 2018, Australian opener, Cameron Bancroft, was caught by South African cameramen tampering with the ball during the third day of the third test between South Africa and Australia. Later that day, team captain, Steven Smith, and Bancroft gave interviews stating that attempts had been made to alter the ball using tape. Smith, Bancroft and vice-captain, David Warner, were sent home from the tour. Cricket Australia stated they were the only individuals who knew of the plan to alter the condition of the ball.

2018/01: Should boxing be banned?
On February 27, 2018, British brain injury charity, Headway, called for boxing to be banned following the death of British light-heavyweight boxer Scott Westgarth.