It may surprise few people that I am a big debating fan. I took part in debating at school, and have enjoyed the sport ever since. Seeing people advocate for a moot, and rebut the arguments on the other side is great intellectual fun. You’re mentally critiquing the teams, while also enjoying their style and sometimes their humour.
The Australs Grand Final was last night at the Paramount Theatre and there were around 400 people there. 72 teams from around the region took part. As with all university sporting tournaments there is a active social side to the event also, and Andrew Butler from sponsor Russell McVeagh got a lot of laughs when he spoke about how experienced the adjudicators were at scoring, and how many participants had left a little of themselves in Wellington of taking a little of Wellington home. In fact his whole speech was hilarious, and very un-Russell Mcveagh like. Was pleased to note that the antics of a certain RM lawyer (and former YN President) at a certain Australs in Australia are still being talked about in hushed tones.
The moot or topic for the final was that we should introduce good samaritan laws. The two topics not selected (three are chosen and each team can veto one) were that the state should not favour monogamous couples and that school vouchers should be introduced. A debate on not favouring monogamous couples could have been fun but I guess arguing the affirmative would have been difficult.
The afffirmative team was Monash 1 and negative team Monash 2. Victoria University got knocked out in the semi-finals, but they joked at least the trophy would stay in Victoria. They were a bit gutted as they had won it the last two years in a row and a hat trick would have been a first. Monash however had won the world champs.
I won’t detail all the arguments but basically the affirmative argued that a law requiring people to intervene, if it is safe to do so, would generate a culture change and reduce crime and victims of crime levels. The negative mainly attacked the practicality of it and how intervention may make things worse. I thought the negative team had the better arguments but that may be influenced by the fact I agreed with them. They did miss an opportunity to not argue against it on philosophical grounds as well as practical grounds. You can see some of my tweets during the debate here.
After the debate we heard from (Supreme Court) Justice Tipping, Andrew Butler, Chris Bishop and someone else whom I can’t recall. Then the adjudicators came back and announced in a 5-4 decision the winning team was Monash 1.
It is no mean feat to organise a week long tournament for 400 people – all pretty much done by volunteers. The Victoria DebSoc members and friends did a great job, according to participants, arranging a total of well over 200 debates.
Sadly work meant I couldn’t stay for the free booze afterwards in The Establishment, but one of the co-conveners commented to me he had already arranged Monday off work which was sensible. I suspect it was a very big and late night. Very sad that if the purchase age is lifted to 20 by MPs, so many of the smart motivated participants wouldn’t be able to celebrate the end of the tournament with a drink.