Sharia law in Australia. Is it possible for Islamic law to coexist with Western principles in Australia? Are efforts to create parallel legal systems legitimate for Muslim Australians? How does this compare with parallel legal systems where they exist for indigenous Australians?
Marriage laws–how broad should they be? Gay marriage is a current topic in many countries around the world, and it is likely that it will eventually become the norm in most Western countries. What other forms of marriage might we be prepared to accept? Polygamy is a form of marriage that is technically not legal in Australia, but is informally accepted. Should polygamous marriage be legal and if so, within which limits? How would the legal system need to change to accommodate polygamous marriage?
Recreational drugs–should they be decriminalized? In 2001, Portugal became the first European country to abolish criminal penalties for personal possession of drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. (This goes well beyond policies adopted in Holland, which has not legalised soft drugs, but does not enforce the existing laws.) Is decriminalising drugs a good idea? What would be the effect if it were done in Australia?
Coal seam gas–a technology for a green future? Most projections of future energy use include an increasing proportion of natural gas as part of an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Natural gas is increasingly produced by “fracking”, and has already led to a decrease in US CO2 emissions, but it is a controversial method. Should we allow fracking in order to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions? Is it better for us to use coal seam gas, than directly mine the coal?
Drugs in sport. What should be our response to the use of performance-enhancing substances in professional sport? Should athletes be allowed to use any and all drugs? What about blood transfusions? What about genetic therapy or surgical enhancement? Is it possible to have a clean sport?
America has obviously just gone into severe trust deficit with NSA intercepting everyone’s private communications. Is this just about countries though? Is the “trust index” dropping everywhere, even at a personal level? How do cultures differ in this?