Speed Debating in the House of Representatives
Forget speed dating, it’s all about speed debating here at the Museum of Australian Democracy.
The Australian National University (ANU) Debating Society’s Spring Tournament Grand Final was held at the museum in the historic House of Representatives chamber in the Old Parliament House building on Sunday 4 September. Teams were given just fifteen minutes to plan their arguments for and against the contention ‘That this House believes that America is no longer a superpower.’
The debate followed the British Parliamentary style which has been adopted as the official model for the World Universities Debating Championships. In this model of debate, speeches are between five and seven minutes duration with four teams of two speakers called factions.
Another interesting aspect of British Parliamentary style debating is the opportunity to take questions from the ‘Opposition’ during speeches. The ingenuity with which questions were formulated and the incisive answers given by the debaters would suggest that there were a number of future parliamentarians in the room.
Both debaters and participants commented that the quality of the debate was elevated by its location in one of the most important spaces for parliamentary debate in Australia’s history. For visitors the sight of a passionate debate centred on the main table of the House of Representatives was a thrilling experience.
Congratulations to Elle Jones and Joe Ware from the University of Sydney who carried the day for the negative and to the ANU Debating Society who confirmed that the future of our democracy is in good youthful hands.