Video transcript
NSW Premier's Debating Challenge 2017 - Year 11 Metropolitan Final

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CHARLEE SUTHERLAND: I welcome you to the State Final the Premier's Debating Challenge for your 11th [? phical ?] [? crabb ?] trophy. This debate is between Hornsby Girls High School and Hurlstone Agricultural High School. The affirmative team from Hornsby Girls High School is first speaker Lauren Lancaster, second speaker, Vanessa Recinos third speaker, Sophie Shead, and fourth speaker, Avan Daruwalla. The negative team from Hurlstone Agricultural High School is first speaker, Michelle Phu, second speaker, Sausanne Huynh, third speaker, An Le, and fourth speaker, Octavia Chandlier.

Each speaker may speak for 8 minutes. There will be a warning bell at 6 minutes, 2 bells at 8 minutes to indicate that the speaker's time has expired. A bell be run continuously if a speaker exceeds the maximum time by more than 1 minute.

The topic of today's debate is that we should ban political advertisements that discuss the character or personality of politicians. I now welcome the first affirmative speaker, Lauren Lancaster, to begin the debate.


LAUREN LANCASTER: Ladies and gentlemen, politics was never about whether Bill Shorten was shady or Malcolm Turnbull was arrogant, it was about their ability to deliver on policy for real communities around Australia. So today on the affirmative, what do we support? We support a ban on television, radio, and print media advertisements that engage in bringing down or bringing up politicians who are involved in political discourse.

We're not referring to people's comments or politicians' comments on public forums, and we support ads on policy, both positive and negative, healthy forms of political discussion, like, for example, free to air political panel shows like Q&A, and media as a fact checking tool but not as a way in which character attacks can be facilitated.

So today I will be speaking about why these advertisements are misleading in their nature and why they are bad for politics both for voters and for policy. My second speaker will be speaking about how these harms that we see from these advertisements are exacerbated for minorities involved in the political sphere.

So first, why these ads of character are misleading? We see this in 4 ways. First, character is subjective on life policy. So this is pretty obvious. Words can be misconstrued, taken out of context, and different characters are obviously attracted to different people in terms of who they're going to vote for. Some people found Malcolm Turnbull strong, for example, or powerful, others find him arrogant and can't relate.

Second, it is easy to exaggerate or manipulate when you're speaking about character. On either side, we see this, good or bad in the way that people approach character. And we think politicians are more likely to exaggerate the character of other politicians, because obviously they do want to be elected and win. And we believe that character ads are an easy way out and it's not a way that politicians engage in legitimate beneficial discussion.

3, these ads are more emotional. In their nature, they're going to appeal to less rational emotions in voters so rather than policy, and that's an objective-- which is an objective fact. We see this as intrinsically problematic. People are voting with their emotions rather than the logical benefits they will see if they do vote a representative inter-government.

4, you have no sources to go to on these advertisements. Unlike policy, where you have policy readings, parliamentary transcripts and legitimate concrete evidence for how you're going to see benefits if a politician is voted in, the emotional nature of character advertisements makes things that politicians say about other politicians imprinted in voters' minds, which are going to remain there regardless of if they're disproved.

We can see this particularly in America through the character attack on Hillary Clinton where Donald Trump's team referred to her as like crooked Hillary and attacked her more on her position as someone who the public should see as dishonest rather than her ability to actually serve as a good president in terms of policy.

So why this is bad for politics? We see this in 2 major ways, the disadvantages it gives to voters and the disadvantages we see in policy. So policy is not about character, policy is about a politician's ability to advocate for community. And we do not believe on the affirmative that personality equates to a politician's ability to make good policy or work effectively in government.

So we think that character advertisements and character is a really bad thing to be focused on by voters, and we see this being facilitated by these ads. Voters should be exposed to policy-based advertisements, because this is the important stuff that politicians are going to deliver once they get elected. We think people vote worse when they are exposed to these kind of character advertisements, because they are focusing on subjective and unimportant things.

For example, it doesn't matter if Bill Shorten is seen as shady if he's going to deliver on your interest to the voters on, say, penalty rates. We believe that character advertisements warps what is important in political discourse both within an election cycle and without, and we also think this means that it redefines the political ability of a politician in terms of how the public will see them.

So even beyond the fact that people shouldn't be voting-- should be voting for policy, not voting-- we want to point out that voters are not voting for just a person, they are voting for a party. This advertising on character zeros in on an individual candidate in an election, and this is really problematic, because they don't represent-- these advertisements don't represent the whole party, and that means voters aren't voting for a prime minister, they're voting for a local member who is representative of a party. So this means that voters lose sight of what they should be voting for, and this erodes the fundamental function of democracy as a means of getting a voice for the people.

So why this makes policy worse? We see this in three ways. 1, by banning character advertisements, you have more policy-driven discourse. They'll no longer have ads focusing on character, but we will see ads focusing on policy. And why the cultural effect of this makes politics less petty. It means that we have better, more mature discourse both during an election cycle and when they get elected in that it's more efficient, less biassed, and means we see legitimate benefits for everyone in Australia.

So second, if we are talking about ads where people are trying to make themselves look good or seem better in terms of bringing themselves up, it forces politicians to work harder on their policy to have an impact with the public. They can't just rely on the ability to make themselves look like a good person, they have to show the public that they can make a good policy if they were to be elected.

And I'm opposing this. If they're focusing on the slander of other politicians, it forces these candidates to make legitimate policy and to advertise their own policy rather than bringing down the character of other people. It means the focus is put back on how 2 politicians can deliver and it means that, either way, you do see improvements in policy once they get voted in and also their ability to theorise policy before they do get elected.

So 3, we also see everything being above board. You have more comprehensive ads that are fact checked and that are less misleading for the public, and this means that they get a much better idea of who they are actually voting in.

And third, policy advertising automatically shows things that are integral to a politician's character without these being explicitly stated in character advertising. For example, an ad saying Malcolm Turnbull has had many stances on gay marriage policy serves the same purpose fundamentally as an ad saying Malcolm Turnbull is a flip-flop politician who doesn't have any legitimate stances.

So we think that-- this is not necessarily offensive, but--


Essential factors are going to be visible through policy advertising anyway, and we do believe that this means that you can tell the character of a politician through their policy advertising. Anyway and we don't need this explicit character advertising and slandering to go on to make this clearer to the public. Less important characteristics will be not allowed and will mean that we have a clearer-- more clear cut political discussion.

So we believe that this is inherently good and shifts our political system to a more positive efficient direction where we see more mature discourse and fundamentally means the public is getting a clearer image of what politicians can deliver and politics remains on the path that policy is what politicians are voted in to deliver, not because they have a character that you necessarily like. And that is why we are proud of them.


MICHELLE PHU: So today, we see the burden of proof on the affirmative team side was that they needed to prove that these certain political ads that they want to ban were so extremely detrimental to-- was so extremely detrimental that it was actually justified to limit the freedom of speech of policy told-- what we believe that we want to see from these people today as long as they say their reason as to why we should be allowed to actually minimise this kind of political discourse-- to suppress this kind of political discourse that we need simply because these political advertisements are so detrimental. We do not see that today.

In the affirmative teams model, they told you that they would ban TV, radio, and print bringing up politicians character, and this excludes legislation. However, first of all, I would like to start off by pointing out that they did not fail to bring up when this will be rolled out, how is this actually going to happen. As I said so themselves personalities, so complex and it's so subjective. However, the affirmative team have actually failed to provide us with any kind of clear definition as to what counts as a political advertisement and what simply counts as just advertising about legislation.

But even if they had provided us with this really clear and comprehensive model, we don't believe that this would have worked anyway, and this is for a number of reasons. This is false because today we see that there are actually three kinds of voters in Australia. 1, those who are well versed in politics and have positions on most, if not all issues, 2, average voters who generally know the positions of the parties in Australia and just generally how things works, and 3, uneducated voters, who probably haven't had any kind of tertiary form of education, who don't know or understand the political issues.

And for those in the uneducated bracket, political ads won't have much an effect on their position as they already probably-- they have probably already researched and understood the issue and they have a really grounded understanding of what they believe in. So for the average and uneducated voters, we can see that these people-- these are the people which political advertisements actually will actually most affect. And I'll go through why. I'll go through why.

It is better to get this new source from the government or a political party, in my substantive. But basically, these political ads can be central to an understanding of who the politicians are, their values and how they're going to government, and this will ultimately affect the kind of legislation they pass. And this will ultimately affect the kind of legislation they pass.

And the affirmative team brought up this point of how Trump misused-- Trump misused his character advertisement by calling Hillary Clinton a crook and how she was dishonest. However way the affirmative team believe that these campaigns-- these campaigns most often reference Hillary Clinton's specific unconscious actions in which she plays critical information at risk. And citizens have the right to question this through these ads.

And we see these ads as being fundamental for actually holding politicians accountable for what they say and what they do. And because these political advertisements were available to the public, that means that we are allowed to actually form our own judgments and form our own opinions on who Trump was as a person and would this make him suitable as a leader whether Hillary Clinton was really crooked and dishonest.

So onto my allocation, so today as a first speaker, I will be talking about how third party sources are unregulated and inherently more dangerous if we were to actually let them control the political narrative by getting rid of political advertisements. And I would also be talking about how politicians personalities and characters is essential to their capacity to lead and represent the people of Australia. My second speaker will be talking about the freedom of speech and programming and the importance of discourse both in society and in politics.

So onto my first substantive, which about allowing the unregulated third party sources. So we believe that allowing unregulated third party sources and social media to control the political narrative is inherently more dangerous than character-driven political advertisements. And this is for 2 reasons. 1, people who keep up with political issues on social media are generally there to reaffirm their beliefs. And 2, unregulated discourse that the affirmative team's model is actually going to take over and it's always going to be inherently more, inflammatory more, defamatory-- and more defamatory.

So onto this first issue of third party sources. So on social media websites, the majority of people who you're interacting with on Twitter, Facebook, and these huge social media platforms, you're basically going to be following people who re-affirm your beliefs. You're going to be following these political parties whose legislation and policies you actually support.

And this confirmation bias is harmful to any kind of discourse that we are trying to encourage, because under the affirmative teams model, they're going to get rid of a source-- they're going to get rid of a source of information-- they're going to get rid of a source of information that is-- the action-- that is actually held-- they're going to get rid of a source-- they're going to get rid of a source of information that actually forces these politicians to be held accountable for their actions.

And by getting rid of this, we're forcing people to write on social media, which only provides them with 1 side of the story. We don't see this-- if we were to actually-- political advertisements allow for this-- sorry. Political advertisements allow for us to see 2 sides of-- 2 sides of the party. We see there being 2 types of advertisements. 1, those who are created to support the political party, and 2, ones which oppose a certain political party. And because we see this kind of narrative between the 2 sides, the public is exposed to 2 sides of the party, and this means that we're not only ever just seeing 1 side of the narrative.

Now on to my second issue, which is the harms of unregulated discourse, we see that the most toxic political discourse does not come from political campaigns or political ads or from the mouths of politicians themselves, but rather on social media platforms where these actual people aren't held accountable for their words. They're pretty much free to say what they want with no backing of an expert opinion, and they're only going to continue to perpetuate harmful political discourse that doesn't actually allow for any kind of progression.

So on to my second substantive. So we negative team believe that [inaudible] capacity to-- we the affirmative team believe that a leader's capacity to actually-- So I talked to Konstantin, which is how character is important-- character determines the latest capacity to enact legislation. So what do you mean by this there are certain values and personalities that make great leaders, and many of that capabilities. So as I said, there were 2 types of political advertisements.

So the first 1 being asked by the politician about the politician in the way of connecting themselves and the people-- with their people and proving to be a great leader, politicians must be able to express their values which they will use to govern their nation, and these values are more tangible-- are far more-- and these values are far more tangible and-- are far more tangible than convoluted legislation, which allows voters to make misinformed decisions for long term, past, and original legislative promises. So we see that character is important to demonstrate how politicians will lead, but how does-- how does this hold them accountable? And therefore, we are proud to negate.


VANESSA RECINOS: So ladies and gentlemen, the affirmative wanted to start it off by asking what is the difference between-- where do we draw the line between what is character and what is policy? We, as the affirmative, think that this is fairly obvious. We think that advertisements that are centred and focused on the policies of the party and the politician are trying to make is what counts as good information for the public and what is important for them to know. And we think that things that are focused on the politician's personal life or just like adjectives surrounding their personality, we don't think that this is very important and we don't think that this is something that we want to eliminate in this political background.

So the opposition wanted to talk about three different types of voters. Now, let's see how they're going to function under our model. So they wanted to talk about those who are well versed in politics. We think that they will-- these people will benefit from our model as they will have more information about the policies that the politicians are making. Then they wanted to talk about the average voters. And we think that currently, under the status quo, they are being persuaded and clouded and not given accurate information about who they're voting for.

So under our model, and I'll explain this later, where the information is cleared up and facts are given to these voters. They'll be able to make more informed votes. And friendly, for the uneducated voters-- sorry. For the uneducated voters that they wanted to talk about how they wouldn't understand these difficult policies. However, we think, and as you've heard at first, we think that these policies, they're not going to be like university lectures. The politicians who are making these ads are going to put in more effort to make these policies accessible and understandable to these voters who may not have a great understanding of this legal jargon. And as we've heard from first, this is because they will have to put more focus in on their policies.

So then the opposition also wanted to talk about this idea of how people are going to have to-- how people are going to have to rely on third party services such as social media, and this is unregulated and less reliable. Now, I'd like to clear up that we're not saying that we're cutting off political advertisements entirely. Politicians and political parties are still going to be able to make these sourced advertisements, talking about their position and talking about the sort of things that they want to put forward.

However, we're saying that the types of advertisements-- the types of advertisements that they're going to release are going to be more politically focused, which means that the people of the public are going to be more exposed to good information that gives them information on the policies and how these policies are going to be enacted and without-- yes, and how these policies are going to be enacted.

And in response to how they were saying that a lot of people get their information from social media where things are unregulated and that's where all the slanderous remarks come from, we think that a lot of these slandering remarks are actually perpetuated by the politicians who make them in the first place, broadcast them, and they are highly publicised, and we think that this is actually a lot more harmful, and that the slanderous remarks that the politicians make would be seen by a lot more people, and therefore, this is what we want to shut down from the source.

And finally, they also wanted to talk about how these advertisements that are focused on character are central to the politician and who they are and what legislation are they will pass. Well, first of all, from the analysis that we've heard at first, the voter is going to be voting for the party. And so these character-based ads aren't going to give an accurate representation of what the person is actually going to be voting for, rather it will cloud their decision and make them unable to focus on what is really important.

But secondly, as my first has already pointed out, there's a lot of chance for this talk about further right of centre. There's a lot of, I guess, chance that these advertisements will be exaggerated and not accurate. So we think that whatever the advertisements say about a person's personality will not be vital for the person-- for the voter to make their vote.

Moving on to my substantive. So today, I want to talk about why these harms-- why these slanderous remarks that are made in the advertisements are more evidently harmful for the minorities in the political sphere? So firstly, people, average voters and politicians, hold social biases, whether it be racism or sexism. And that means that they're always going to judge people in these minorities in the political sphere more harshly. They're going to hold them to different standard than the general white male middle aged man that they used to seeing in the political sphere.

So what sort of biases do we see come forth in these sort of voting during election time? So we see people campaigning that like female politicians should have children and happy families. And so for example, we saw a lot of these advertisements zoning in on Julia Gillard, and there were, for example, young liberals who put forward campaigns with ditch the witch. And this is clearly a sign of sexism coming into play.

And similarly, we see racial biases coming into play. So, for example, people of colour in the political sphere should be connected to their culture but not too much, because that might be a sign of betrayal, or [? what ?] [? else. ?] So then in under the status quo, we see that by allowing these personality ads to continue and from different parties and supporters, we allow them to capitalise on these social biases, manipulate people's thinking, and put these all into advertisements. So what they're doing is that they're tearing down others in order to bring themselves up. And also when politicians put out these sort of ads, we know that they may be trying to appeal to the electorate, which may also be holding these sorts of biases.

So then what are the harms of this then? We see that, firstly, this is intrinsically bad, because it extrapolates how these people of minority, these women and people of colour, are targeted in a disproportionate way. It extrapolates this issue. And the public nature of these ads how easily accessible when they're shown on TV, on radio, this is damaging to the way that they're perceived, and it also distracts from the way that the policies of [inaudible].

But secondly, we can see that another harm of this is that more minorities are intimidated by the environment that is created, so this environment of name calling and fear mongering. And because of this, as a result, there is a lack of diversity in the politicians and parliament, because it creates a cycle where we discourage people of colour and women to join the political sphere, because they're afraid of this and they can see the disadvantage that's caused by these ads.

And as a result, we have less [? representation ?] in politics and a less broad and diverse political sphere. So then under our model, how do we fix these issues? Obviously, first, we make it harder for people to attack minorities when we force the politicians and their supporters to just focus on policy, which is a lot more-- which is a lot less subjective and doesn't capitalise on these ideas of personality and what the biases that people may hold.

But secondly, we encourage more representation in politics, because more minorities may be willing to enter into the scheme. And therefore, we're going to create an improvement in politics, more representation, and more diverse set of policies, and improve the sphere of politics in general. And for these reasons, we are proud to affirm.


SAUSANNE HUYNH: Ladies and gentlemen, today, the affirmative team have completely mischaracterized what political advertisements are. Political advertisements are not just anything that is on TV or radio that mentions politics. Political advertisements are those driven by political parties, are held liable under strict regulations to discuss the political sphere, and we believe this involves the character of a politician. Because what a politician believes in and what a politician decides to create legislation about is based on their personality, is based on their character.

What a politician deci-- who a politician decides to represent and how a politician appeals is largely based on their values, and these values are based on the character and on the personality of this politician. As my first [? neg ?] asserted, the character represents basically the ability to lead and it shows viewers, first and foremost, are they honest? And secondly, are they going to keep these promises that they have promoted?

So firstly, the affirmative have brought out this whole issue of the ability of politicians to deliver policies should not be based on their character. They've taken the soft line approach of how they'll ban anything that may defame a politician, how the comments about political particular parties will not be banned.

However, as I said, we define political ads as anything that's actually held accountable and held liable under strict regulations that are already in place. These are ads that may be promoting a party as they are created by the party or those created by the opposition which are engaged with our political leader believes, and creates this discourse as I will further elaborate on in my substantive.

They said that characters are actually subjective and it's easy to exaggerate and manipulate using character information about what politicians believe in. However, we believe that an emotional approach is important for voters, as this is how a politician engages their voters, this is how a politician gets elected, this is how a party gets elected, because it is based on their representative politician and how these people, how these characters, are promoted within both the society and in the political sphere.

They also stated how policy is not about character and that politicians-- and politicians only need the ability to create good legislation. However, where do you draw the line of what political ad shows in relation to character? When advertisements are promoted-- when advertisements promote legislation and possible policies of their representative candidate, their character is indicative of how they will lead.

If you are preventing people from seeing this, let's take, for example, Tony Abbott. There was, say, political advertisement under their definition of how he was, in fact, drinking during the creation-- during the GFC and when policies were meant to be created to prevent and to-- to lessen the harm of the GFC.

People deserve to see that this is his true character, that he's not actually-- what he was doing was not actually helping the-- helping Australia and helping the society. And hence, they should be able to see that this is the true political character of the individual. And thus, this is how they will be leading within the political sphere. So the reason why there is so much anger about, for example, Trump being elected, is because of his character, because his personality, his true beliefs are being revealed.

The reason why certain politicians are being slandered are because voters are being able to see their true character, their true personality, and how this does not actually align with the policies they believe that they are going to promote.

So I'm onto my substantive. Firstly, I'll be talking about the freedom of speech within mainstream media, and secondly, the importance of discourse as a result of this. So the opposition's burden of proof today is to prove that our political act is so detrimental that you must limit the ability for people to speak freely.

So let's look at the status quo and what type of advertisements already banned. Advertisements which are perpetuating racist, sexist, or any other discriminatory view under Section 48 of the Constitution are already banned. These may include advertisements that vilify minority groups. This means that particular political ads are held to the same standard where possible deformation of politicians are inherently already based on how the conscious character influences how they lead.

So if we don't have ads questioning characters and the personality of the people writing legislation, we cannot see how the individual values affect their ability to lead and how this aligns with the values they have promoted. So as my first speaker put forward, a person's character is significant in perceiving how the individual's-- how their individual values align with the public's own values. And thirdly, people have the freedom to promote their own party and to promote whoever they want-- how do they want their party to be perceived, based already around strict regulations.

If you ban this, you are preventing people from engaging in discourse and allowing people to see the truth about politicians potentially in power. So how will this affect the stakeholders we have identified today? Firstly, we have defined voters as educated, those who may have tertiary education, those who are possibly in high SES areas, and those who are informed and keep up to date with political views. We believe that these voters aren't actually affected no matter what the family proposes, because they will be voting based on their own beliefs anyway.

Secondly, we identified average voters. Now, these are what-- these are people who believe approximately what their beliefs are and they know that labour stands for the individual everyday people and the liberal might stand for cutting taxes on big businesses. However, these people will be affected, because they may be-- they may be getting false information from third party sources.

For example, Twitter, where nothing is actually held liable, held accountable, and this creates fake news. So freedom within mainstream media ensures that viewers are getting the correct information and reliable information, because we define political advertisements today as those who as that which promotes the political party.

To simply ban ads as the opposition deem could possibly defame politicians are only perpetuating false news and further disadvantaging these voters. This is because, as we've already proved, what values politicians hold and what their beliefs are actually central to their personality and central to their character.

And lastly, the disadvantaged voters, those who are from-- maybe from lower SES areas and those who really don't have time to research or actually know what is happening within the political sphere. We are limiting the freedom of speech. By limiting the freedom of speech, this effectively limits any factual information from reliable sources to reach these disadvantaged views. The opposition cannot effectively say that character driven political ads are so detrimental to limit the ability for these parties to promote their character, to promote their representatives and engage with the people who are voting them in.

So there are also 2 types of advertisers we have identified, those who promote political parties and those from the opposition. So for those that promote the political parties, these are the chances where the politicians are able to show their best side. These are politicians used to promote their representatives. These allow the voters to engage with the characters of these politicians. And secondly what opposing parties promote. These promote discourse, which I'll elaborate further in my second substantive.

And also giving these opposition parties the ability to-- give them the ability to provide engagement, whether positive or negative, which is the point of a discussion as well-- as this topic defines today. So also this idea of the importance of discourse. So what does political discourse look like right now in our status quo? The majority of Australian citizens get this information from mainstream political advertisements, which may be false. And it is easier for them to engage, if you're getting correct information from correct political sources.

And although these political sources may defame a character as the opposition said, it is actually allowing them to see if any dishonest actions are occurring in today's society. Yes for these reasons, we are proud to negate today.


SOPHIE SHEAD: Let's be really clear. If character mattered in politics, then the revealing of that character was never a benefit exclusive to their side. Because if that character was revealed in a way that wasn't through policy, that was a limited harm in this debate. But if, as we thought was much more likely, it was revealed in a way that was through policy, then we could just as easily claim that benefit and further we thought we could claim it better.

Because when the media wasn't clogged with ads about Malcolm Turnbull has no spine but was clogged with ads about the fact that he hadn't had a definitive stance on gay marriage or on climate change, we thought that was always better media on our side. We thought to the extent to which character mattered, we thought we claimed that benefit.

I'll ask 2 questions in this speech. First, what was the nature of character advertising, and second, on which side was politics better? So first, what was character advertising actually consisting of? The first thing I'm going to look at here was whether or not character-- whether on a limiting of political character advertising was an infringement on speech, which was a theme we had pushed at first and particularly at second. 2 things to say.

The first was just that in Preston. We thought the idea that freedom of speech was an important principle was true, but also pretty contingent, we thought we already restricted, slander, and hate speech, we were restricted that within and without of the political sphere. And what that meant was that principle was in fact contingent so that this debate was never going to be won or lost on whether we won that issue, but rather on who better respected the function of politics, who better made better policy. We thought that was always much more important in this debate.

But second, even insofar as we were going to be incredibly generous in the importance of that speech, even if it wasn't beneficial speech, we thought we weren't actually doing what opposition wanted to say we were at second, which was restricting all reporting about politicians and all reporting about politicians values, for instance, when those were things that were done by the media, things that we didn't necessarily support but things that could also potentially happen in our world. We thought media was fairly free. We were talking particularly as we set up very clearly at first about ads from and to political parties.

And that brought me to the next question under this point. So what was the nature of character advertising? Was it accurate or not? We told you right from first speaker that character advertising was intrinsically inaccurate. We gave you full reasons why that was true. That was firstly, because character was largely subjective and the character that would appeal to certain people didn't to others, that you had no broad way of saying that character was true or wasn't for a certain individual.

Then second, it was likely to be exaggerated. Because firstly, as I told you, it was easier to do so when that character was subjective, and second, there were clear political incentives to do so, because you had very easy slander campaigns that you could make. That thirdly, that character was emotional. That fourth, you had no sources where you could find whether that was true or not. When you had advertising about policies, you could fact check that as media or as an individual consuming that content. You could go to parliamentary readings and things like that.

We had a response to 1 of those reasons at second, which was to say, that emotion was important in determining which candidate you wanted to support and things like that. 2 things to say. The first that was just not sufficiently responsive to what we told you down the bench, which was that those ads were not representative of the politician you were actually voting for because of the political incentives I talked about, because character was intrinsically more subjective.

But second, we thought like you could still feel emotion in regard to policy on our side that if you were saying that this party supports indefinite detention of asylum seekers, we thought that was something that you could get an emotional response from if that was an important part of politics. That was never exclusive to their side.

The second question I had to ask them was who made these ads? That was because what they told you at first and the second, which was just to say that third party sources were unregulated. The first thing to say is it was incredibly unclear because we thought that politicians could still make ads. We thought those ads would just be about policy rather than the characters of their opponents. But second, we thought even in the case of when you were dealing with third party sources like social media, that was always going to be better if they were about policy these were always going to be more objective.

And even if suddenly, people took to social media to voice their resentment about the characters of certain politicians, we thought firstly, that media was going to be less publicised than the stuff we were banning on our side in that even in that-- if they thought that was a harm, that was a harm we limited, because we were-- because we were addressing the media that was the most publicised, those were ads by individual campaigners, ads that were going to be seen on mainstream forums like television, like radio, so we thought that was a home we mitigated anyway.

But second, we thought there was like venting of frustrations about politicians individual character on social media. Well, likely going to be a more significant form of character advertising or character-- going against character, because it wasn't driven by political incentives. That was likely going to be much more legitimate.

So the second question I had to ask in this debate then, was just, on which side was politics better? And it's important to note that was what we won or lost this debate on, that this debate was never about whether you respected freedom of speech enough or about whether people would take to social media, it was about the politics that you got on either side of the house, given that these were the most significant actors we were dealing with.

So on which side was politics actually better? We told you, right from first speaker, that you were confused policy for voters, that voters would vote based on the characters they liked when that was the media that they were majority seeing on television, on radio, as opposed to the things that were important about policy and about those policy incentives.

What did they tell you? They wanted to talk about 2 classes of voters who would respond in different ways. That was firstly, educated voters who would go elsewhere because they weren't affected and they were just going to do their own research. 2 things to say, the first, that was a concessionary, if you were saying that it was a benefit that those educated voters who were doing their own research as opposed to listening to policy ads. But second, we thought if they weren't affected, then that was fine. That was a benefit for us. We thought that never stood for their side.

But second, in the much more contentious group of people were the uneducated voters for whom they were saying that personality ads were just more accessible. 3 things to say. The first, they gave us no reason that was just an assertion from their side, that they were more accessible. We thought policy ads because you wanted it to reach as broad a voter base as you could and get as many people on your side as we could were generally like 30 seconds of explaining pretty clearly why your policy was right or why your opposition's policy was wrong. We thought they were accessible anyway.

But second, even insofar as personality ads were more easy to listen to, we thought that was never a benefit, because the material that you were having access to wasn't necessarily worse. It was more inaccurate. It was less focused on the policy you needed to be talking about. But the last thing to say was that if it was true, then what that meant was that we took away an avenue for accessible media. If that was true, that meant that there was an incentive for those parties to make policy ads more accessible, because we gave them a new way to find-- to broaden their voter base.

On the second question beyond voters on the second issue of policy, what did we tell you right from first speaker? We told you a couple of things. First, that this gave you policy driven discourse that you just didn't get on their side when your media, when your parliamentary culture, was clogged with politicians just name calling and being petty. We told you a second that a direct energy towards policy and away from slander campaigns or campaigns designed to build yourself up, because you actually had to get that policy in order to be elected. That was where your energy went.

But thirdly, we told you that if personality did manifest through policy, and this is what I've alluded to in my introduction, we thought we got that benefit anyway. If Malcolm Turnbull did flip-flop on issues, you could say that Malcolm Turnbull didn't have a definitive stand. We thought you got that benefit that anything that was important about personality even if there were things like that. We got through the policy because it was necessarily poor policy that was important in this debate.

Fourthly, we told you that this is bad for policy because you got it-- because it was less representative when you excluded minorities, when you excluded women, because you made that environment more hostile. We have had no response to that last point. So what did we hear then? What did we hear then? We heard from them that character was just important for policy in itself, and that was the only bit of analysis they had on what we did for policy and they've been extremely unresponsive to the material we brought you.

What did we say to that? That was 2 things. First, we thought that just wasn't true and that arrogance for instance or how charming you are or how charismatic you didn't determine the policy you put forward, didn't determine whether you supported climate change legislation or you didn't. They said at second that people were angry about Trump because he was like sexist and racist. No. We thought that he wanted to defund Planned Parenthood, that he wanted to ban Muslims from immigrating to the US. We thought that was the reason people were angry.

And further, if they were angry about comments that he had said or if the advertising could show the comments he had said were sexist and racist, then that was very clearly manifested through policy, and the policy that came from that character was the more important thing, that's what we allowed you to advertise on our side of the house.

But the final thing to say was just as I told you before. We thought that character was not represented-- that policy, rather, was not accurately represented by those character ads when they were inaccurate, when they were based on emotion, we made policy better on our side. We're so proud to propose.


AN LE: So what third asked, they told you 4 things that we ignored. First, that character is subjective. In fact, we told you at first that if character is subjective, and therefore, ineffective as substantive reasons for political ads as substantive reasons for voters. Then what they said actually conceded the harm that they had identified that it wasn't actually exacerbated through a person's character.

Second, they said this was likely to be exaggerated for political gain, that the characterization of politicians was always going to be exaggerated in ads. So we in fact counted, in our argument throughout our first substantive, saying that this exaggeration would now actually fall to unregulated third market. But I'll talk more about this later.

Third thing they said was that character-driven advertising was always going to be more emotional and thus less substantive material. Also more about why character is a legitimate form and why it should be a legitimate form of advertising later, but we already said it second that certain issues are emotional. And the fact is that the character of a politician matters. When someone is campaigning based on issues which affect all Australians, it is fundamental that they are good people, that they can connect with audiences, that they can connect with Australians.

So the fundamental question that we thought on this entire debate was how can voters make the best informed decision? So 2 subgroups on that. First, the effect of political ads as compared to third party sources, and second, the importance of discourse in political ads. And another issue as how the affirmative teams model would affect uneducated voters.

So on this first issue of the effective of political ads and what would happen if you were to ban character driven political ads. So we told you at first that it was always going to be inherently better for people to be getting their political opinions based on character-driven political ads rather than unregulated third sources. This was because like these insidious third sources were never actually going to be properly regulated.

This was because it didn't come from 1 salient source but rather from hundreds of anonymous Twitter bots. And we thought that this was always going to be more effective in like changing the political landscape, in changing how people thought about politicians, then actually just in character-driven political ads. Because if it was just 1 ad, that would be easy to attack. If it was just like 1 untrue political ad, if it was 1 that was perhaps perpetuating this negative, this false notion, then at least you could attack that 1 ad. At least we would all know if that 1 ad wasn't true.

But rather, if it was from thousands or hundreds of unregulated anonymous people online, then that was always going to be more dangerous, because it was more insidious, because this could go into further areas, this could branch into almost every other area online. And this is actually going to be more-- was going to cause more harm on their side, because this was actually never going to be addressed under their model.

We also talked about how-- about confirmation bias in our first-- in first negative. We talked about how because you are on Twitter, because on Facebook, the people who you follow, the discourse that you hear, will actually always inherently be people that you agree with, will actually be people who you only followed because you agreed with their opinion.

We thought that was always going to be worse under their model, because political ads are decentralised, because it's on a billboard, because it's on TV, and because it doesn't actually target 1 specific political position, it doesn't actually target ones with 1 specific type of subgroup of person, we thought that this actually allowed people to challenge their opinions. These actually allowed people to say, OK that is, let's say, if I were to support Liberal Party, that is labour party's billboard and that isn't something I agree with. But now they say that, I can actually start to question my beliefs and I can actually maybe research more to later or maybe change my beliefs or-- and we thought that this challenging of people's opinions was always going to be better on the other side of the case.

So they said 4 things as to why character-driven political ads had to be banned. They said, 1, that character is subjective and that words can be misconstrued. They said, 2, it was easy to exaggerate and communicate things through character-driven ads, and they said, 3, it was more emotional, less rational, and they said that-- and they said that policy was objective. And they said, 4, there was actually no sources to show this.

So all this would actually be exacerbated if you just allowed-- if you just allowed for third party sources to control the vote as we outlined it first. If you actually allowed-- if you actually allowed for these people to control-- to control this. And as we said, the discourse is always inherently going to be more toxic online.

We thought that all of this would still be happening under this [? sub ?] case if you banned political ads, because all of this would just be happening online, because the vacuum that exists because you've banned character driven political ads would only just be happening online. So second affirmative said that because politicians were the source of this, because political ads were the source of this toxic political discourse, then actually this negative discourse online would actually be stopped. We thought that this was false, because we told you that this slandering, this false material, this slandering material, would still actually always be allowed under their model, because there isn't really much difference in, saying, between character-driven political ads attack-- character-driven political attacks and legislation-driven political attacks.

For example, if you were to say like Bill Shorten is shady and also on which we can say on our side of the house. But in their side of the house, they want you to rather say Bill Shorten will take all your money and steal your kids, which could technically be legislation based. We thought that there wasn't actually much of a difference between that. We thought that even if you were to ban character driven political ads, that negative discourse, that toxic political discourse, would actually still be allowed under the facade of the case, and actually, wouldn't even be addressed.

So they talked about-- so now to my second issue of why characterization specifically is important in politics. So first off, they told-- [inaudible] they told you that politicians didn't-- their personality didn't equate to your ability to lead. However, we would argue that characterizations are legitimate positions, and they aren't really arbitrarily based, they aren't really arbitrarily concluded.

They said that-- they said that the character and the personality of a politician [inaudible] would actually show you how they were going to lead. [inaudible] Tony Abbott and how he's drunkenness probably was a part of his character and that probably meant-- that probably impeded his ability to lead.

They also used the example of Trump's characterization of Hillary Clinton as crooked. However, we can say that this characterization wasn't arbitrary, it was based on something and it worked, because it is-- because people actually agreed with this characterization. Trump wouldn't call a crooked Hillary if she wasn't taking hundreds of $1,000 from Goldman Sachs, if she wasn't actually like flip flopping on issues based on what her donors told her, because that characterization was actually legitimate, because it was based on her legislative opinion. Because it was based on things that she had actually done. Because the fact is people draw characterizations, people draw their opinions people characters, people draw their opinions people personalities, based on their actions. It is not arbitrarily concluded.

So onto my final issue of how their positions model will actually be affected on uneducated voters, on the people who weren't necessarily that engaged in politics or maybe didn't understand. So they said that this would cloud their decision if we included political character-based political advertisements. However, we said that citizens should actually be entitled to hearing all spectrums of the debate, every single side of the debate, because we thought that it would always be better to challenge your opinion than to just hear 1 side and to only affirm your beliefs. We thought that it was always going to be better if you had more discourse under our side of the house.

So they also said that this legislation would not-- at second [inaudible] they told you that this legislation wouldn't actually be that hard for uneducated voters to understand because they'd make it more accessible, because they'd make this legislation easier to understand for the average Joe. But we told-- but what we say to this is that this probably isn't really that different from character-driven political ads anyway. Because if you were just simplifying this legislation to just like it's bare bones, you could actually misconstrue that in any way, in the same way as if it was character driven.

So they also talked a lot about the second half about how this would affect women and people of colour, and specifically racism and sexism, in political discourse. However, we thought that all this would still actually happen even if you bad character driven political ads, because these are deeply ingrained societal problems that happen every day. These are deeply ingrained societal problems that happen in our everyday lives, not just because of political-- of character-based political ads. If you adjust to get rid of character-based political ads, then you are never actually going to stop racism and sexism on their side of the house, and so these are issues that we're very proud to negate.


TUSHAAR GARG: Firstly, I'd just like to say, on behalf of the panel, and I guess everyone involved today, just another round of applause for both sides of the house.


We all know how incredibly hard it is to get up here and how tough it is to deliver a speech, especially with so much on the line and such nice trophies as well. Look, I'll try my best to be short and sweet, but I promise you I'll be neither. So getting straight into it really, today we just had a very tough topic from both sides of the house, and something that we thought both sides engage well with. I go through my general feedback for both sides and provide a few positive negatives, and that eventually go into our adjudication.

So in terms of positives, we thought, yeah, just like I said, very tough topic, but the key was that both sides still really engage well with it right. They didn't really let go, they didn't take the easy route out, and it was a tough topic that really pushed them intellectually, and I guess, to think of things outside of the scope of what you just read in the Daily Telegraph every day, which is why we thought. They did a quite good job of articulating themselves, especially at in such a high pressure environment.

In terms of, I guess, what we thought we could definitely work on was going outside the scope of what they did read in those papers and think of better case studies better examples that were more relevant, more relatable, and case studies and examples that actually won them the debate today, because we thought this was a debate that relied heavily on using the actual contemporary media around you, and examples, not just in our political system, but in the American political system, outside of Hillary Clinton, outside of Tony Abbott's drunkenness, and during the JPC apparently, but it was that kind of capacity to go above and beyond, which really would have hammered it for 1 of the teams today. Unfortunately, it wasn't as much as we would have loved to see.

That being said, with debate came down to, I guess, 2 main questions. The first 1 was, what is the actual effect of this type of advertising, this character advertising, and the second was, what is the actual-- sorry. The second is what is the actual effect on discourse, and the first was actually more what is, I guess, the effect under the model of this advertising.

So we bought from the affirmative that at the moment you do have this shady advertising that leads to this, I guess, poor representation of what's actually going on, and it doesn't really tell you the whole story, or it doesn't really tell you the truth of what's actually happening, what policy really means. From the negative, we had this quite strong idea that it's not fair to say that Tony Abbott's [inaudible] the GFC, and that represents what my local member is going to tell me about policy in the next 3 to 4 years.

That was very strong from the negative they held that throughout. But in the end, we pulled this down to the affirmative, because they said that even if you want to engage with the emotional side of this supposedly uneducated class of voter, you could still do that by presenting policy. Policy, at the end of the day, what was strongest, and you could always pull in some emotional aspect if engagement was what you were looking for into a very policy-based advertisement marketing system, which is why we thought this first idea of this character-driven policy fell towards the affirmative

In terms of what the actual effect was on discourse. From the affirmative, we held this very strong point that we can't bash minorities anymore. If we bash minorities through character-based advertising, then those minorities won't actually represent themselves, step up and get into our political system to actually engage in that discourse. And it was quite true in the third after call it that there wasn't enough response on that point, in particular.

From the third, we held this quite strong line throughout the debate across the bench to say that, if you ban this sort of character-based advertising in the general media stream through the general papers, radio advertisement, you're going to move to this third party Twitter-based advertising, where you're hearing a lot of these character bashings, and those sorts of things on minorities from these kind of unregulated and unrelated sources.

Although that was a quite interesting and articulate point, there wasn't enough backing as to why that was better or worse, and why that would actually affect the larger system. So that idea which holds throughout the negative case. Wasn't as relevant as we would have hoped it to be, and then we came back to this idea that you can still seek that kind of emotional aspect to advertising through what the affirmative model was, which is why unanimously today, we've given the debate to the affirmative.


OCTAVIA CHANDLIER: So we won't make this too long, but we'd first really like to thank Western Sydney Uni, the sponsor for this competition for making this possible and continuing to support the arts such as debating, because it's really important to our development, and as you can see, we really engage with it.

We'd like to thank all those who are involved in organising, being both the coordinators of this event who have always been so helpful, along with all of our supporting teachers and coaches, who are really the ones who have taken us this far and have supported us throughout. We'd like to Thank the adjudicators for both judging debate so well today, and also for the continual feedback and help that they continually provide. And, of course, we would like to thank the amazing opposition. You guys put up a really incredible debate today. You all spoke extremely well, and you presented a really great case, and we'd like to shake on.


CHARLEE SUTHERLAND: A member of the winning team will now respond.

AVAN DARUWALLA: So on behalf of [inaudible] we'd like to obviously agree with everything you've said. We really appreciate. You guys you are teachers, everyone is organised the competition's audience for coming that's really nice, but you're really fantastic team and we really appreciated the debate. You're all great speakers, and it was really fantastic [inaudible].


CHARLEE SUTHERLAND: I would now like to call in Rosemary Davis, sports and initiatives director with the New South Wales Education Department to present medallions and a gift from Western Sydney University to the winners and runners up.


ANDREW LASAITIS: Firstly, can I call on Michelle Phu.


Sausanne Huynh.


An Le.


Octavia Chandlier.


And Coach [? melissa ?] [? schultz. ?]


And I'll step aside. Now, the Hornsby Girls team first picker Lauren Lancaster.


Venessa Recinos.


Sophie Shead.


Avan Daruwalla.


And Coach Janet Walker.


ANTHONY WHITLAM: Well, can I congratulate both sides too. Of course, it was a terrific effort and the adjudicator said was. So true. I've come to this occasion on-- for several years now, I've seen a lot of talented speakers over the years. And 1 thing that struck me today was, I think, for the first time I've heard that irritating youth speak use of the word like as a desperate employed much less often than I've heard of on any other occasion. So I was delighted about that.

It was difficult topic as the adjudicators said, and I think you handled it very well in the circumstances. Last year when I was here, of course, 1 still had some hope in the proposition that a rational debate would sway societies to its benefit, what have you, and that was all before November 8, of course. And since then, and I'm delighted that you've maintained your passion for debating and hope that somehow it changes events in the world or at least not in this world, but in the United States, and perhaps we won't have to hold our breath so much for 3 and 1/2 years.

If Mrs. Clinton, [inaudible] you mentioned a couple of times it displayed half the passion enthusiasm and energy that you speakers had, perhaps you wouldn't be in this predicament. In any event, it was a very good effort by all speakers, and I'm sure by the coaches still insisting it, but the winner of the session by the judges is Sophie Shead.


CHARLEE SUTHERLAND: Thank you, Mr. Whitlam. Finally, I would like to welcome, again, Ms. Rosemary Davis to present the trophy to the winning team.


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