Melbourne University Debating Society win Speaker’s University Challenge

September 13 / 119

Pictured are (left to right) Jacqui Yates (debate judge), Rishada Cassim, James Gray and Tim Blair (from Melbourne University Debating Society) and Bernard Wright (Clerk of the House and debate judge).
Pictured are (left to right) Jacqui Yates (debate judge), Rishada Cassim, James Gray and Tim Blair (from Melbourne University Debating Society) and Bernard Wright (Clerk of the House and debate judge).

The Melbourne University Debating Society (MUDS) has won the inaugural Speaker’s University Challenge. 

The event was held in Canberra at Parliament House’s 25th anniversary Open Day.

The teams debated whether "this House is truly representative", with Melbourne's negative argument winning. 

Judges Jacqui Yates and Bernard Wright (Clerk of the House) awarded the inaugural event to team members James Gray, Rishada Cassim and Tim Blair.

Mr Gray, the team captain, said winning the debate was a great honour.

“It was a really high quality debate and we weren't quite sure if we'd got ahead,” he said.

The team took the topic, "that this house is representative", to mean the Lower House (House of Representatives) of the Federal Parliament did not effectively represent the views and interests of Australians.

“We pointed, specifically, to single member electorates preferencing major parties at the expense of marginal voices and how minority groups such as our Indigenous population found it difficult to gain adequate representation,” Mr Gray said.

The invitational competition included some of the country’s strongest debating teams. Mr Gray said MUDS members worked hard to develop their debating skills by meeting each week for training presentations and practice debates.

“We regularly attend competitions overseas with great success. We were semi-finalists at the most recent World Championships in Berlin and Australasian Championships in Malaysia,” he said.

“Debating is a really important skill because it teaches you how to effectively communicate complex information. That's a skill that both academics and employers love.

“It forces you to have a really wide ranging understanding of what is going on in the world. Usually we only have 15 minutes to prepare before a debate, so speakers have to bring a lot of knowledge with them.”

The Debating Society meets 5.30 in the Law school every Tuesday.

Find out more at mudsonline.net.

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