Video transcript
NSW Premier's Debating Challenge 2018 - Junior State Debating Championships Final

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ARBELLA DE NETT: I welcome you to the final round of the 2018 junior state debating championships. This debate is between Western Sydney region and Sydney region. The affirmative team from Western New South Wales region is First Speaker Harvey, Second Speaker Katelan, Third Speaker Harry, and the negative team from Sydney is First Speaker Grace, Second Speaker Luca, Third Speaker Cooper, and Team Advisor Emily.

The adjudicator for this debate is Emily, [? kate, ?] Pat, and James. Each speaker may speak for eight minutes, and there will be a warning bell six minutes with two bells at eight to indicate that the speaker's time has expired. A bell will be rung continuously if a speaker exceeds the maximum time by more than a minute.

Finally, before we begin, please ensure that all mobile phones are switched off. The topic for this debate is that employers should be allowed to discriminate based on healthy lifestyle factors, like smoking or obesity, when hiring and firing. Please welcome the first speaker of the affirmative team to open the debate.

HARVEY SHEAD: Currently, throughout Australia, we see unsafe workplaces saturated [? in ?] unsafe lifestyle practises that need to be fixed. We will first like to define this lifestyle as a choice that person has actively made that ends in a detriment to that person's health and obesity as a lifestyle obesity and not genetic.

Our model says that by the start of the financial year of 2019 to 2020, employees will be legally able to discriminate against people who have unhealthy lifestyles only during the hiring and firing process. Firstly, I will talk about the current-- sorry. Firstly, I'll talk to you about the current potential risks posed by these people to the company and their coworkers. Then our second speaker will talk about the encouragement that people will have to stop their lifestyles and how they affect the company image.

Before I begin, however, I would like to paint a picture of how the world will work and look under our model. Firstly, there will be a much lower risk to the co-worker and company. Under our model, workers who actively participate in unhealthy lifestyles would face termination if they do not address their health.

This is a good thing, as now the number of people getting things like second-hand smoke is down, which is especially important at places such as restaurants or other food venues. We will no longer have that guy who always steps out for a smoke break only to serve food and talk to customers reeking of smoke.

We've all been somewhere to eat and the staff have stunk in one way or another. Our model eliminates that risk, and it creates a better customer experience, meaning companies would increase profits, even if by a small margin. Do you think McDonald's cares about some random people who smoke or a 3% increase in profits? I think I know where a multi-billion-dollar company sits.

Also he is the risk to co-workers. When the company looks bad, that reflects a co-worker as well. Under our model, when customers are happier with their experience, they are more likely to return and be a pleasant customer and less likely to yell at workers.

This yelling at work, as seen in a lot of fast food places, decreases productivity. When someone yells at you, you don't just go, oh, yeah, that's [? working ?] [? normal. ?] Under our model, Australia will have a decrease in obesity and smoking due to the encouragement to change. There will be an increase in productivity, a decrease in social exclusivity, and a change in the way society views smoking and obesity due to its inhibitors.

Moving on, the potential risks in the current workplace is too great to not fix or address. Firstly, a person runs the risk to themselves by not changing their behaviour. For example, insurance-- insurance companies are aware of a person's health, such as smoking and obesity. They know that this person is a liability to them and therefore treat them as such.

And we think this is not a bad thing. It's a simple fact that when there is liability potentially decreasing profits a company or employer should absolutely be allowed to treat them as such, a liability. This is not even mentioning the health risks that can be brought onto other people [inaudible] onto other people by these people.

People who smoke often leave smoke in the air, on their clothes-- and on their clothes, as well as on others' clothes. However, smoke also has a lot of other detrimental effects that can continue for a lot longer than commonly thought. Smoke can stick to other people's clothes, as I said, bit it can also spread very quickly.

For example, when you sit next to someone who has smoke on their clothes on a bus or train, you have a very high risk of having that sort of smoke on your clothes, even if it's not noticeable. This can also be spread around your siblings or around your parents.

This issue goes far, far beyond the workplace. Think about a scenario such as this-- you finish work, and a parent picked you up or someone else. The smoke on your clothes is now on your parent and your car. These clothes you're wearing might go in a pile of other clothes for the washing. Then your siblings' clothes-- your sibling might wear these clothes, and they could-- and they could bring them wherever they go.

They also might sit in the place in the car where you had sit-- where you had sat. This means that-- this means that they have more of this smoke on them, which means that they could bring it wherever they go. The fact that this will have such far-reaching consequences is indicative of how bad this problem is.

Excessive eating habits present in people can also work in a similar way. When you exhibit these habits, people around you tend to do them as well. This is how bad habits spread. We're all aware of this.

This could be especially harmful when you have children, younger siblings, or partners. The extent of this is too far-reaching not to ignore, and due to the excessive range of potential risks, letting this continue would be grossly irresponsible. Thank you.

Ladies and gentlemen, the opposition today were more than happy to discriminate people based on a very personal lifestyle choice that we believe they have absolutely no right to do. Before I open my team's case, a few points of rebuttal-- first, if they came out and told you that they were going to try and stop these unhealthy lifestyle practises-- but just like a small practicality here. We want to ask how people will actually declare these things, how they're actually going to check what people's lifestyle choices are.

This is a very private and inherently personal choice that people-- their employer shouldn't be able to have access to. It's something that they shouldn't have to be forced to tell other people because it's a personal thing, and we should respect people's privacy.

They told you that people who had bad lifestyle choices were somehow a risk to their company and their co-workers. Firstly, we want to point out that lifestyle choices are things that you only do to yourself. You eat junk food. You are the only one that's putting junk food into yourself. You are not putting it into your co-workers' body, so we don't know how this actually affects your company.

They told you that there was going to be second-hand smoking if people smoked. Well, we think that people actually take smoke breaks in designated areas during their own break times. Like you're allowed to go to lunch during your own break time in the same way that you should be allowed to smoke during your own break time because you think that smoking or eating is going to make you feel better or worse.

Also, they told you that they were going to increase the profits for a company by somehow discriminating against people. We think that this is actually untrue because by picking the healthiest people to work for your company, you are not inherently picking the most productive people that are going to make the most money for your company.

We think that, actually, by picking the healthiest people and neglecting the people who might be more productive then you are choosing a company that is healthy but then unproductive, which ultimately is going to result in profit losses for the company which we don't think is going to benefit the company in any way.

They also brought out this really big argument about how you should be liable for smoking because smoking is bad. One, we agree that smoking is bad, but we don't see how discriminating against people is going to somehow make it good. We don't think that discriminating against people is going to take away all the risks associated with smoking.

Secondly, they told you that it's going to stick to people's clothing or stick to people's cars, which is going to be like a really massive issue. One, we want to point out how unlikely this scenario is. We think that it's really hard for it to be as widespread as they made it out. We think that once someone's got it on their clothes, unless you stand really, really close to them for a long amount of time you're not going to get it on your clothes.

But thirdly and more importantly, we think that this is actually a very minor issue compared to the damage that they're creating. We think that having something stick on your clothes or stick on your car is something that is not permanent. You can wash it off very easily by putting your clothes in the washing machine.

But then if you discriminate against someone, this actually has long-lasting effects. It makes them feel depressed. It lowers their self-esteem. This actually has long-lasting psychological effects, which is bad, obviously. Also, it decreases the opportunities of employment. It makes them more likely to be fired, which we also think has long-lasting effects because we take away someone's livelihood.

This is something that's permanent. It's something that's actually going to affect them in the long run. And we think that because these harms which are a lot bigger than the short-term harms, the long-term harms that I'm talking about or that our team is proposing against them are clearly so much worse and so much more far-reaching than the small ones in the short term that they talked about. We think that inherently the opposition's model is detrimental.

So now on to my team's case. Today, as First Speaker, I'll be talking to you about why employees don't have the right to control or influence someone's private life and, secondly, why the affirmative team's model actually affects already vulnerable stakeholders in our society. Our second speaker will be telling you why the proposed model will affect and decrease employee health and quality of life.

So firstly, why employees don't actually have a right to influence an individual's personal life-- ladies and gentlemen, we think that, under the status quo, we employ people based off the principles of meritocracy. This means that we choose people based off their qualifications, their university degrees, their capabilities, their productivity, not what they choose to eat or whether or not they choose to smoke.

And we think that meritocracy is actually very good because it's actually the best way of doing things, not choosing people based off their health, because it means that people have to have put in the work to get where they are. They have to have sat through the university course to get that university degree, which is why-- because you put in inherently what you get out. It makes things a lot more just for the employment system.

The opposition today is proposing that we should be able to compromise these values of meritocracy and rather choose people based off their lifestyle choices. But as I've told you already, lifestyle choices are a very personal decision that we think employees should uphold. Things like what you eat and what you put into your body are really personal-- are really personal choices that don't actually affect your employer or your performance at work.

Even if you choose to eat junk food, you still have the same amount of university degrees that would have gotten you in the job based on meritocracy. You still have the same qualifications, the same capabilities that you would whether or not you choose to eat junk food. There is no correlation between your lifestyle and your performance at work, which is why it's inherently unfair to impose the affirmative's model to allow you to work based off personal lifestyle choices simply because lifestyle and work [? weren't ?] going to be mutually exclusive things.

So under this, a few main points-- firstly, whether or not you are healthier we think is a very personal choice. If people think that they would rather have-- if people think that they would rather have a shorter life but a happier life, we think that that's OK, that's up to them.

If they will choose to have an enjoyable life but-- if people choose to have a less enjoyable life or something that they think is less enjoyable but longer because-- a longer life because they think that's going to make them happier, we think that that's OK as well because we cannot quantify happiness because employees in the government don't know how happy eating junk food might make somebody. And employers don't have this right to take away this happiness.

In the same way that we allow people to do things like high action sports, even things that give you a high chance of having injuries-- for example, you might do damage to your spinal cord, and these injuries obviously have significant impact on your health. But we still let people choose to do these things because we know that people put a lot of value into these things, which is why we shouldn't be able to take it away. We shouldn't restrict a person's ability to access these things by discriminating on their lifestyle choices.

Secondly, we don't think that employees should have to disclose all this personal information. I've told you already that this information is very private and very personal. In the same way that we don't allow employees to ask questions about people's political ideologies, what religion they follow, and treat people based off their religion or politics, we don't think that we should allow employers to choose people based off what they eat because we think that, ultimately, these are things that don't actually affect the employer. So they don't have a right to know these things.

Similarly, how you can't ask a woman whether or not they're intending to have a baby in the next five years, you can't ask-- you can't ask a person whether or not they like eating junk food or if they eat junk food.

So now on to my second argument about how the affirmative's model disproportionately affects already vulnerable stakeholders in our society. I've told you already that under our status quo we support democracy. I've told you already why that's good, and it's effective, and it's practical.

I've told you already how the affirmative's model compromises this meritocracy. But even if it doesn't, we still think that it's harmful because it significantly impacts on already vulnerable stakeholders in our society. These are people from lower SES backgrounds, old people, people who might already be sick. But there are lots of people who are going to be affected the most, and these are the sorts of people who we should be protecting.

So three main points under this-- one, people from lower SES backgrounds are more likely to eat junk food because junk food is usually cheaper than healthy food. For example, a burger from McDonald's might only cost you $3. Then a proper salad might cost you $15. That's five times the amount of money, and we don't think that this is something that you might be able to necessarily afford if you're poor.

So we think that it's unfair to push these already poor people further away from employment because of things that they can or can't afford. We think that it's already harder for poor people to access education and university qualifications, and it already makes it harder for them to access employment. But the affirmative model makes these things even harder because, also, poor people are more likely to indulge in habits, such as smoking.

Secondly, we think that the affirmative's model deepens biases that we already hold against people who are deemed as different. When someone walks into a job interview and they're overweight, they have rotten and yellow teeth, they have bad breath, you always are subconsciously less likely to hire them based off their appearances because you'll probably perceive them as untidy, unkempt, disorganised.

Whether or not you do these things on purpose, these things probably also happen to employers. But then when you get a sheet that says-- or when on the person's CV it says, 'smoking, eats junk food,' it makes these things so much more real. It makes these things about negative body image and physical appearance seem so much bigger harm to your company. And these harms instantly become so much more tangible even when these harms don't actually affect how the person will perform at work.

Thirdly, we think that people of high SES backgrounds already are more likely to access job avenues, which is why we think we are so proud to negate.

KATELAN PHILPOTT: Firstly, the negative team got up and said that the lifestyle choices that employees are making affects only themselves and not those around them. Firstly, our team strongly pushed the idea of second-hand smoking and how those who smoke affect others.

This has been proven by numerous studies that the smoke left and the smoke lingering can affect people, and it actually causes cancer on those around them. Now, these people don't go to work every single day to be exposed to this risk of developing second-hand smoking because it's not something they sign up for their job. And this is an unnecessary risk that employees are taking every day due to someone who smokes.

Also, obese people who eat unhealthy food around others-- they are more likely to affect others to lead into a more unhealthy lifestyle. That's just how society works. If someone cool is playing football, other people are going to want to play football. So if someone's eating unhealthy food around [? them, ?] it's more likely that these other employees will develop these unhealthy eating habits because they're being affected by those around them.

They also said that second-hand-- people who smoke can simply just wash off their shirt and the smoke is going to come off. But I don't see anyone in a workplace taking off their shirt, putting it in a washing machine, washing it at their workplace, and putting it back on. The smoke stays with them all day until they go home and all day they around their employees.

So the employees are still exposed to this risk. So obesity and smoking are affecting others in the workplace quite heavily, in fact. Even though we may be unconscious of their effects on others, it's happening.

They also came up with the point that employees just simply don't have the right to discriminate because we don't discriminate against females that are going to have a baby. Lifestyle-- they also explain that lifestyle choices are personal choices that don't affect work performance.

The main example is a smoker who smells like smoke and customers do not like that smell. That affects how they work. That affects their productivity because people don't want to be served by someone who smokes. Obese people also have less energy due to their nutritional intake, the stuff they get out of food-- you get energy. You're not as tired. Obese people don't have this because of their nutritional food choices. So obesity and smoking still, yet again, affects everyone around them in their workplace.

They also went on about this substantial bias that we have towards people who walk in with rotten teeth and obesity, and this would affect someone's work performance and that of their colleagues because we don't want-- personal presentation is such a high thing in employment, and you need to present yourself well to be able to perform your job well because we look at a company image, and we don't want to be served by someone with rotten teeth. Or we don't want to be served by someone who smokes.

They also said, what about these people who have university degrees and they're so qualified but they can't get the job because you're smoking or you're obese? If you're extremely good and you're qualified, then you will stay in your job. There is nothing forcing employees to do this. It's just an option. We're allowing them to discriminate against obese people and people who smoke for the fact that they are affecting other people around them and their workplace.

They also said that we can't just stop these unhealthy lifestyle choices, and as we said, we're not trying to completely stop everyone from eating unhealthy food or everyone from not exercising. We're simply trying to encourage and push for a society to make healthier life choices.

And this can only be done through an extreme measure because as we say now, government advertisements that push for health and all these medical reasons that we're told hasn't made a difference. And they also stated, how would we know that they're smoking, or how would we know that they're obese?

And it's pretty obvious to see the signs that someone's smoking. They're going out for regular breaks all the time. They come in smelling like smoke. It's pretty obvious. And [? that will ?] probably have to be disclosed on an information.

And they also then went into that employees shouldn't have to disclose this information because it's so private, their lifestyle choices are private. Lots of people do this on insurance papers, and they do it everywhere else. And they don't care. They still do it because they know that's what they do, and that's a choice they've made.

The personal choice that they have made also affects how they interact. So the employee may still pick them even if they smoke. It's if it's going to affect the workplace and the people that work around them.

And then in their last little point, they went into how poor people can't afford healthy lifestyles. They're buying that Big Mac because it's so cheap. And it's actually cheaper to eat healthy, if you look at it properly.

Buying a Big Mac meal every single meal is going to accumulate into such a high price, whereas if you go and buy a bag of fruit, or a bag of vegetables and a piece of meat it's going to be a lot cheaper. And then if poor people can access smokes, which are about $50 a packet, they should be able to afford a healthy lifestyle and healthy food.

Onto my substantive, my first point is the encouragement and change we will see in our society's lifestyle choices if we allow workplaces to discriminate during the hiring and firing process against obesity and smoking. Obesity and smoking are two of Australia's most common health issues. However, they are Australia's two most curable lifestyle diseases.

For this example, I will discuss obesity and how it will affect the workplace, and by implementing our model, we are going to see a massive change. By percentage, Australia is the second-fattest nation in the world. Over indulgence in high-sugar fat foods such as McDonald's and our lack of exercise has led us to this point.

People who are obese put themselves at high risk for developing further serious issues such as heart attacks and strokes. Obesity due to lifestyle choices is a personal choice and can be changed. Instead of eating that Big Mac or chocolate every day, swap it for a salad or a piece of fruit. Go for a run every day or join a team sport.

Not only will this get a person's way to a healthy level but also increase their quality of life. By implementing our model, we are showing that obesity is a massive issue in today's society, it's a personal choice, and that it can be changed. In attempts to stop obesity within our country, we're seeing things such as government-issued advertisement and medical consensus, which have slowly seen a small, insignificant change.

By allowing workplaces to discriminate against those who are obese and those who smoke will rapidly change the lifestyle choices that people make. We will see an increase in healthy lifestyle choices, and that will be creating a healthier country. With our model, we will also be changing how a majority of our population view obesity and smoking.

If at school a student receives bad grades and wishes to get a job in the workforce, it is seen as-- is seen as ridiculous because it's something the student could have changed and worked on. Why aren't we like this with smoking and obesity? This issue has become too common, and it is therefore not even considered within our society. By allowing discrimination against obesity and smoking in the workplace, we are taking away the normalisation of unhealthy lifestyles and further encouraging a healthy Australia.

My second point is about the company image and how the company functions with obese people and those who smoke compared to our model. Smoking within a work environment is awfully dangerous. While everyone knows the awful effects it has on the individual, we tend to forget about those around them.

The smoke from the cigarette has been proven to be harmful to people who are not directly smoking the cigarette. It can cause serious health risks such as cancer, and that is not a risk that ordinary people go to work to take. These people have healthy lifestyles and go to work every day, and in no way should they be exposed to the risks that smokers pose. It is a personal choice that can be changed and should be changed.

The only way to resolve this issue is to allow workplaces to discriminate against those who are likely to create a dangerous work environment, and that can be achieved through our model.

Another issue that smokers and obese people have in the work environment is that they create a social divide. Obviously, people who smoke are going to be friends with other people who smoke, or obese people are more likely to be friends with other obese people. This creates cliques which create negative workplace-- which create a negative workplace and impact heavily on the productivity of work done by employees due to the fact that they are less likely to socialise [inaudible].

LUCA CHARLIER: If you are someone in the lower-middle class who maybe has to work one or two jobs it's working eight to 10 hours a day, working on weekends, has a couple of kids they have to take to school, do you really think this is the type of person who's going to have the time to get up at 5:00 AM to go for a run or to go to the pool, is going to have the time to have regular consultations with a dietician to go, these are the ways I need to change my life, is going to have the time to cook fresh and healthy meals every day instead of saying, oh, there's a drive-through Macca's there and go and pick that up?

We believe that the affirmative team hasn't really considered how everyday people aren't really going to be able to change their lives on their model and how this means that these people are going to be unfairly discriminated against and have their lives really negatively impacted by the model that the affirmative team is proposing.

So we believe that there are currently two main issues in this debate-- firstly, how the system aims to improve health and, secondly, how this changes the ethics of employers and employment. So on the first issue, the affirmative team has stated that, through incentivizing people to get a job normalising healthy living as opposed to unhealthy living, that they're likely to increase the number of people who try to lose weight or quit smoking.

However, we believe that the way that this is going to be measured-- how the healthiness of someone is going to be measured by an employer is likely to be something in an interview. It's likely to be something where the employer sizes up the person, that they're saying-- and if say that they do have rotting teeth or are visibly overweight, this is going to be a big effect.

The problem with this is that we don't believe that this physical representation necessarily represents the actual health condition of that person, but we do think that employers are much more likely to look at this rather than any forms that they have about specific health issues because the affirmative team, one, hasn't really provided any specific details as to how employees have to submit health forms to employers.

And so this means we believe that employers are likely to assume a lot of the health issues that a potential employee is going to suffer. But additionally, we think that employers often trust their intuition over, necessarily, what they read on the form. That's why they hold things like interviews. Not only do they judge the social capabilities and the abilities of the person they're interviewing to talk. We believe that they judge that someone as a person, as a whole person.

And so we believe that this not only increases the harms we're talking about at first about how this healthy living often comes in tandem with other people who are in vulnerable positions and are thus less likely to get a job anyway, and so it discriminates to that lower extent but also means that this is just ultimately going to be unfair because employers aren't going to be making the correct decisions about the people that they employ.

And we also believe that it's often really difficult for people to reduce their obesity or to quit smoking. So in both cases, we believe this is something that is often quite ingrained in a person's life, or is quite addictive, or they do because they don't really feel like they have another option. Because of the things I talked about earlier about the fact that people are now so busy, we believe that this is why people are going to buy that food.

And so talked about how people in low SES can just cook their own food and it can be really cheap, but we ask-- the amount of time or the amount of money you have to put into that is still much more than just going through a drive-through.

And if you've got other problems going on in your life, if you're super stressed about having to get a meal on the table, if you're sort of stressed about having to work that other job from 10:00 PM to 3:00 AM just to keep the family going, is your first consideration really going to be, oh, well, I should probably spend an additional half an hour making better food.

We believe it's not. We believe it is going to be, oh, crap there's a drive-through right there. Let's go, and go through that, and get our food from there. And also, because that's going to be the things that make you happy, we believe that that's often the same condition with smoking and drinking as well.

So I'd like to talk about two things in my substantive-- first, how the affirmative model decreases health and, secondly, how it actually does decrease quality of life. So first, I believe we sufficiently talked about how, in the mind of the employer, they're more likely to make these health decisions based on the physical appearance of a person necessarily rather than any forms or information they're giving about that.

And so we believe this means then that the outward health appearance is just as, if not more, important than the actual health of a person, and so we believe that employees are likely to consider this as well. This is especially because they don't know if the employer that they go to in an interview is going to consider these health factors. They don't know whether or not they're going to walk in and the fact that they're overweight is going to immediately rule them out.

And we believe that this is something that's really going to prey on employees' minds because they go, I've gone through all the effort to get here, I've gone through all the accreditations or the work, and am I just going to be excluded just because of how I look? And so we think this is going to prey really deeply on them, and they're going to look for the fastest way to fix this.

And we believe that this is most likely to be self-destructive, unsustainable, or straight up unhealthy ways of doing this because it is just based on this physical appearance. And even if the employer is making the decisions based on the actual health conditions they're going off and not just that outward appearance, we still think it's highly likely that that employee who is going in is going to think that it's going to be about that outward appearance, especially if they don't have regular visits with their doctor.

It's going to be that outward appearance that they often judge their health on. It's going to be seeing how far their gut hangs over their waist. It's going to be seeing how rotten their teeth are. And so we believe that this is going to be the primary concern of employees, and we do believe that this means that they're more likely to pursue self-destructive methods of trying to improve this.

They're more likely to try and starve themselves. They're more likely to go on the internet and look for those three quick tips to reduce belly fat. They're more likely to do those things that aren't proven but they hope will give them some sort of edge over other people. And this is especially because we believe a lot of these people don't have the time to go out and do that 5:00 AM run. They don't have the time to go out and do those 60 laps at a swimming pool.

We also don't believe that they often have access to top medical advice and they don't have the time for being involved-- fully involved fixes, and so they're going to latch on to the small thing they see to do. And so we believe that this means that employees are likely to be much unhealthier.

But on top of that, we believe that this disproportionately affects the middle-to-bottom class because we believe that it's people at the top who are more likely to be able to have regular visits with dieticians. It is more likely that they have a member of the family who support them enough that they can stay home more, or cook more, or even have an employed cook.

They are the people who are more likely to be able to access and pay for facilities such as running tracks or swimming pools. They're more likely to be people who have the time to care about the health and have the time to go to doctors.

And so we believe that this means that these people at the top, who we believe are already super-advantaged in employment because the jobs at the top are the jobs that their families have had, they're the jobs that their friends and school have had, and they're the type of person or they have the type of mannerisms or the type of dress that employers who are looking for potential candidates agree with.

And so we believe these people at the top are already super-skewed towards in the current system, and this gets even worse under the model, in addition to all the stuff we talked about at first about how vulnerabilities often come together and aren't just individual issues.

So then secondly, I'd like to talk about how both under that-- both under that model but also in the best-case scenario where this does make people healthier, it does actually decrease quality of life. I briefly want to jump back to something the second affirmative said, although it was expanded throughout that case, about the fact that they think that people smoking at work is a really bad thing because you get that smoke on their bodies or whatever.

And we'd like to point out that this is exclusively at work. That's the effects of smoking at work. That's not necessarily talking about the effects of having a couple of cigarettes the night or the day before because those are the things that people can get off their clothes when they put on a new shirt in the morning. And while there are people who can smoke at work, we believe that often there are already regulations or employers have rules about how far away they have to be or something like that.

And so we believe that this means that you're in a situation where someone's actual employment only affects a small part of their smoking, but because that employer is likely to consider their total health, it's going to have a much larger impact on the rest of their ability to smoke. And so we believe that this means that employer is having a really disproportionate effect on that person's ability to pursue the things they want to pursue in their downtime.

So we also don't necessarily think that being healthy is better. The reason that we allow people to have junk food, the reason we allow people to smoke is we believe that the enjoyment they get out of that is possibly better than the longevity or the extra options they have if they are healthier.

And so we believe that person's choice is that they want to have a higher quality of life and do the things that they enjoy rather than the things that are empirically better for their body but they may not necessarily get enjoyment out of, especially because that's so difficult, especially because they do involve putting all that work into getting fit and having food.

The people should be allowed to make that choice. People should be allowed to say, yes, I want to be an unhealthier person because that's what makes me, actually, happy. That's how I want to spend my time. And so that's why I'm proud to negate.

HARRISON KATER: Ladies and gentlemen, the affirmative side saw this come down to three main questions in this debate-- one, is it fair to both the workers and the employers? Two, does it actually affect those around them, and if so, to what extent? And thirdly, what kind of damage does this actually do to the people being discriminated against?

Firstly, is it fair to discriminate against these people? We say absolutely. Not only does it encourage them to ditch these habits which I will discuss more on with the effects to those people, but the risk that it has to the co-workers, which I will also discuss, and the liability that it has to the company greatly outweighs the fact that a few people aren't going to be able to retain these jobs or are simply going to have to change their ways to fit in the work environment and not affect those around them.

The negative team proposed to us this whole idea of meritocracy and how it works, and they keep switching between jobs where we have these whole uni degrees planned out and then those where the guy is working like 3:00 AM to 7:00 AM at some burger place.

Firstly, we feel these are going to have completely different standards for hiring, but secondly, we've pointed out that this isn't a must. These is an option for employers, which we think largely will be used for the effect that it has on the company and those workers around them. But if someone is in a work environment where smoking does affect them, affects either their work performance or those around them because they work in an individual job, then no, of course this isn't going to be used or exploited.

The second thing they told us was that these people are going to need to go for a run. They're going to need to see dieticians, and there's not enough time. One thing I'd like to clarify which they mentioned later was that we are talking about-- not talking about overweight people but those who are largely obese, not those who have maybe a couple extra pounds [inaudible] but the ones that are physically inhibited by their weight.

And secondly, we've made it quite easy to point out, but the fact is there are so many alternatives to solve these problems that are just as easy as walking into a McDonald's. First off, you have non-fast food restaurants that serve these.

Second off, you have easy meal plans like Light n' Easy or Jenny Craig and not to mention like Curtis Stone's 10-minute meals, which are really quite simple and don't take that much time. And it's not ridiculous to think that someone who is overweight or obese or has a smoking problem can buy nicotine patches or find 10 minutes in their day to fix this issue.

The second was that they told us that it's unfair to these people and it's unfair to society to judge them off of physical representation. We didn't think it was necessary to point out how employers would judge if someone's overweight or has a smoking issue, as we mentioned the insurance companies and how these pieces of information are often heavily disclosed. I'm sorry. They are disclosed.

Now, obviously, that's how it will be based. And physical appearance would be a huge thing, they told us. And the fact is that would be illegal. That would be discrimination based off of appearance, same with race, and that is not what we are arguing today. We are arguing about the health problems themselves.

Then they brought back-- the second speaker of the negative team told us, if they're overweight, they're going to feel like this or that. But as we've pointed out, this is about obesity, not someone being overweight. We're not saying everyone who needs-- who's in the workforce needs to be a complete athlete. We're just saying we don't want them to have a weight problem that is physically inhibiting them or hurting their health.

Then they told us that it's really difficult to quit, but as we've pointed out, there are numerous ways to fix this, from nicotine patches to meal plans. It's not exactly something that's going to take years, and years, and years. It's just a lifestyle change that needs to be made both for the benefit of the person and the benefit of those around them.

So the second question is, does it affect others around them and the company? The negative team told us that these personal choices don't affect anyone, but other than both my first and second speaker talking about the second and third-hand smoking effects and how they are more detrimental than first-hand smoking itself.

We also spoke about the social influence. The fact is humans are social creatures, and we're known to copy each other. So if someone's bringing in like a cake or cupcakes, or donuts, or a Big Mac into work every day, that is going to rub off on you to some extent.

So this is no longer just affecting the person themselves and their lifestyle choices but begin to slowly influence the lifestyle choices of those around them. The second-- they also told us the second and third-hand smoke-- it's minor compared to the discrimination that we're putting these people through.

But we would consider lifelong health deficits to be quite a major effect, and we think that discrimination against people, not as a totality but until they can fix their lifestyle changes and stop affecting others, is a perfectly fair and equitable price to pay.

As far as the company image goes, they told us that this doesn't actually affect them. Someone's overweight, or they smoke, or whatever, they have rotten teeth, whatever. But a perfect example of this is tattoos in modern working society. A lot of jobs will ask you to either cover them up or have them in places where they can't be seen because it affects the-- it affects the company image in the way that people perceive them.

The negative team told us themselves that there are prerequisite perceptions of these people when they walk into an interview room, and the exact same can be said about when serving with customers or interacting with clients.

Then they told us that most of these people only smoke at home. First off, we believe that's completely ludicrous. The amount of people that take smoke breaks is particularly in office jobs or, for an example, at McDonald's. It's quite high. People do it on their lunch breaks. People do it whenever they can because it's an addiction. It's a nicotine hit they need, and if they're taking it via smoking, it does affect those around them.

But we also spoke about-- spoke about the third-hand smoke and how it does actually stick to you and the items surrounding you. So yes, this is going to, in some way or another, enter your work environment and affect those around you.

So then the third issue-- what is the damage to the people with these actual habits? First, the negative team told us that there's a psychological damage, but we, the affirmative team, have told you numerous times that this is really going to be a big kick up the butt and encouragement to those people to seriously make a change.

Not only is it going to change their perception of it and realise that it's an inhibition, but my second speaker spoke to you about how socially it's going to put a different view on smoking. It's the same way we see bad grades in school. Not only does it affect the person there, but society sees bad grades as a deficit because of how it's going to affect you later in life and especially entering the workforce.

If someone has a habit like smoking or they have a lifestyle obesity problem, this is now inhibiting their ability in the workforce, and so society will see this issue and change its perception of it, making it almost taboo to be.

Then they told us-- they told us numerous times that there's a logical correlation between happiness and health. The fact is that these people are overweight because it makes them happy, and people who are healthy and fit-- they sacrifice happiness. But this is a gross overgeneralization of both groups.

First off, we see a large amount of depression [? inside ?] of obese people, so we can perfectly point out that not all of them are happy. And second off, there's a large number of people who enjoy being fit and healthy for either the activities they engage in, or their general physical appearance and mentality, which the negative team also spoke to us about, is a negative in these people with these issues.

Then they told us that it would be cheaper to be unhealthy, so, of course, we should leave them because of the expenses. The example they gave us was a $3 Big Mac meal compared to a $15 salad. First, off, that's ludicrous. Salad's not going to cost you $15 everywhere you go, and the fact is you can get it cheaper almost anywhere.

And the average Big Mac meal is anywhere between $7 to $10, so we want this to really be proportionalized before we go for that argument. Plus, my second speaker mentioned it is cheaper to make your own food, and we mentioned these lifestyle alternatives which cost around the same amount.

The other point is, even if this does have an extra expense, the benefits gained from it greatly outweigh the few extra dollars you're spending each time. Becoming healthy is not only good for the person and the people around them, but it's going to allow them to be happier in the workforce and maintain the jobs that they have. So then they told us that, well, they're going to do this in a healthy way. That's what the second speaker of the negative team told us.

And we think that's ridiculous. The fact that you've told us that these people don't have enough time to even go for a run in the morning tells us that they're not going to be able to spend hours searching the internet and hours doing these dangerous activities when it's much simpler for them to get on a programme like Light n' Easy-- it takes them five minutes. They order their food, they pay, and they cook it in 10. That's why we believe [inaudible].

COOPER GANNON: Ladies and gentlemen, today's debate is built on two primary factors that our opposition has attempted to argue for some very flawed arguments on terms of better employment and health outcomes under their model and fair to discriminate.

So we'd like to begin on the terms of better health and employment outcomes. Now, they first spoke on this whole concept of number of people second-hand-- receiving second-hand smoke. They also spoke on these health impacts of smoking in terms of their customers.

Well, our opposition has stated that these cigarettes are actually going to be removed from the public space. Well, they already are. We have legislation which enforces the fact that you cannot be smoking in a public space. Instead, you're doing it in a designated smoking zone.

Now, in terms of this, in areas that our opposition's already stated, they are not-- this is not smoke inside of the restaurant. This may be smoke that may linger on the worker's clothes. But in terms of this-- I'll get to that in a second. This does not have any health impacts and, in fact, won't damage-- is not a reason to fire this person, which I'll get to in a second.

Our opposition also did not speak on the mechanisms in which profit increased, other than the fact that there's going to be no smoking in the restaurant or that people will walk away because they don't like the smell of smoke on these people. Well, if they are firing trained, valuable, experienced employees that only occasionally smoke in this designated zone, that is not leaving it in the restaurant and does not have health impacts because this legislation was introduced years ago. And they do not smoke in this restaurant.

Then there is no impact other than firing these experienced employees, which is going to generate a net loss of money as they have to bring in new employees with lower productivity who need to be trained and are being fired for no reason other than the supposed belief that people will not return. I will get back to this in one second.

Now, on another point in regards to proven studies in terms of which is why these-- proven studies in terms of the impacts of smoking in these workplaces, well, this is why legislation has been introduced. It is that simple. This has already been covered.

Now, in terms of the next point they also spoke on, the fact that there's performance and that there's whole areas where performance will be affected. Well, we'd also like to-- we'd like to speak on that in terms of-- this is the sole reason that no one will return to the store, so our opposition believes that people will not return to the store if people are smelling, if workers are smelling of cigarette smoke.

But does this also mean that employees should not hire those with, for example, disabilities as an example because certain terrible people don't like the service as much? Do you believe that this will draw them away from the store and then, as a result, they should only hire the best, most-trained, most-liked people that the workplace feels comfortable with? Is this not the very reason why our boardrooms are filled with old white men? It is the same recurring thing.

Now, in terms of a point regarding our position describing decreasing obesity and smoking in the broader sense-- this is massive. Let's explore this. By firing them from the workforce, giving them no income, then they can't afford assistance to get out of their smoking habits or to get out of their health habits because they have no money. They are then meant to join Light n' Easy. They're then meant to go to non-fast food stores that sell salads that are, as the opposition has admitted, just a few dollars more, a few dollars more daily, every meal.

This is a massive change for people who now have no income. How is this even possible? And now if we want to further this point, the opposition also expects the personal training or exercise habits which they have-- which has not been promoted-- it's just, see you later. Come back when you're healthy, and then you'll get a job. And they've got no money to find these interesting habits, to find these beneficial habits.

There is no programme involved here in which these people are improving. And in regards to smoking, our opposition, smoke on nicotine patches, which, once again, cost money. And once again, if they are not allowing them to re-enter the workforce until they have this issue solved, this can take a very long time to get off these addictions. We know how powerful they are.

So this solution does not work to fix either of those areas. So not only is it not fixing the issue of people being healthy in the workforce. I'm about to speak on why it's entirely unfair to discriminate against these people in the first place. But let's also speak on the fact that other employees will develop unhealthy habits somehow because of these few people, and yet our opposition admits that they're willing to keep a few qualified people in the workforce.

Well, why doesn't that opposition take the stance that this should be a complete ban in comparison? Aren't these few people still having effects? If our opposition believes that this effect is so profound and that every person who is overweight and-- also, I would like to point out the contradiction in the fact that our opposition believes smelling of smoke or being overweight is something that you look on negatively but then somehow other employees are like, [? yippee, ?] I'm going to start smoking. It does not work this way.

Now, in terms of fair to discriminate, our opposition spoke on the effect, which was quite critical, that these people will be fired even from McDonald's. So you're firing people from the lowest area of qualification to then try and find more jobs to try and get the money to afford Ligt n' Easy, trying to get the money to afford personal trainers, to afford non-fast food outlets. It is simply ridiculous.

Our opposition spoke on the fact that a multi-million-dollar profit was also a benefit for these companies. So in this case, we have recent laws which speak on the fact that businesses are not allowed to look at whether or not women intend on having kids because they are going to lose money paying maternity leave. So does the opposition also believe that this is responsible? Because it's for a profit, that it's a very good validation, that they're allowed to discriminate for this profit.

Well, in this case, this carries on to the other point of not hiring fat people, not hiring, for example-- in the example of the CEO boardroom, they will only hire white people or people that they believe the general population can associate with because it will make more profits. So our opposition's sole point is based on discrimination being OK for money.

Well, this is not-- this is not acceptable by any means. And not only this. This discrimination is being, OK, yep, you've got no money? We'll see you when you're healthy again, see you when you're not smoking. So there's no solution to this. People are being pushed aside. It is simply ignored.

And our opposition also spoke on the fact that there is a liability, decreasing profits, which I believe I just covered. But in regards to the topic, that it is based on healthy lifestyle factors, they're allowed to discriminate based on healthy lifestyle factors, I have proven that there will be no healthy lifestyle factor increase as a result of this discrimination, therefore this discrimination doesn't have a basis, therefore they are not allowed to discriminate because it is not on the basis of healthy living.

They are putting them out and saying, you'll get healthy. Pay some money when you have none. It simply doesn't work, and this is what our opposition's case is built on, on a few small points our opposition spoke on, that they are not arguing racial/age discrimination, all of these areas. Yet, as I've spoken on-- and we'd just like to suggest the fact that it is also an avenue for this to occur, as we spoke on in the boardroom example.

Now, in terms of being physically inhibited from their job and that this is an issue, well, jobs that do have these restrictions such as the military have them because there is a-- for example, in the military, there is a physical aspect to which you can complete the job.

You cannot say, oh, because you are slightly-- and a similar example is an area of-- for example, a very controversial one at this point in time is the whole fashion industry in terms of, there should be certain models who are plus size, certain models who are-- there's a whole bunch of discrepancies here in terms of jobs that have specific requirements.

We can't generally say we need more able people simply because they more able and push everyone else to the side for no other reason than discrimination. So once again, in terms of the topic, there will be no better employment outcomes. They are going to cost more to be training these new people.

There is no basis for the discrimination in the first place. These people are getting shoved aside from all areas because no matter how big your income was, you're at nothing now. Even if you're fired from McDonald's, that's even worse. You've got no chance. So to basically conclude, our opposition's case based on the topic does not stand.

JAMES LEEDERS: Well, first off, all of the adjudicators wanted to begin by congratulating all the teams over the three days. We've been immensely impressed and pleased to see the tremendous improvement over the teams across a few days. But particularly, I think really enjoyed the final that we saw, befitting of the improvement and the quality of the kids. So if we could begin by giving another round of applause for these [inaudible].

So in the final, nothing will change. We're going to give the adjudication like we have all our adjudications, which begins with some general feedback, and then the two questions that we ask to decide the debate. The first piece of general feedback-- and this isn't necessarily a piece of feedback directed to these two teams but for all the teams in the audience and for anyone who ends up watching this debate-- about the way to approach complex topics like the topic we saw.

And this is a bit of advice that I was given that might sound kind of frustratingly basic, and yet I only ever really started to do it very, very late in high school and found it tremendously useful. And that is, when you get a topic which at first seems like it has lots of different moving parts like this one-- there's discrimination by employers, there's hiring and firing, there's lifestyle factors, there's lots of different stakeholders-- always go back to basics by underlining the key phrases in the topic that you see.

And the reason that is so beneficial is that will often tell you what you need to think about, what arguments you need to make, what you might need to characterise and give us a picture of throughout the debate. So in this debate, one of the things that we really did enjoy and thought we saw very well was a really good discussion around what happens in job interviews, why people go out and make the decisions they go and make, what rights employers might have.

But for all the rest of you and for all other debates that you have, this trick sounds basic, but it has helped me get out of a lot of trouble when I've looked at a topic and go, generally, I have no idea what this debate is about, and I have to speak in an hour.

The second point that we wanted to stress-- and this is one that we thought at times was done very well but always can be done more-- is spending sufficient time in this debate stepping through the calculus and incentives of people in this world. And that sounds a lot more fancy than it is. Really, we're just talking about, what are their motivations? Why do they do the things that they do? What interests do they have? What outcomes are they trying to reach?

And stepping through all of those very clearly with lots of logic, you don't need a million reasons. You just need to give us the clearest picture of what this looks like and what will happen. And with that, we think that's an incredibly effective way to convey the ideas and the arguments that you want.

The last piece of feedback that we have-- and this is a piece of feedback that particularly applies to very good debates like this one-- is always to take your opposition at their best in rebuttal. It is always an excellent idea to begin your response by denying the premise of their argument by saying, no, that's not going to happen. That's not the way we think the world is.

But always, as a second step, you should do what we call the even-if response or take them at their best, which says, even if that argument might be true, here's the reasons why it doesn't get the outcomes they think it does. And the more teams can do that and engage charitably with one another, I think you'll find-- and we do see and we saw this in some good moments in this debate-- that that rebuttal is much more effective and much more persuasive.

Lastly, what I wanted to do, though, was point out some things in this debate that we thought were really good. We thought there was excellent engagement between the two teams, a terrific amount of rebuttal, excellent responses. Secondly, we think there's plenty of well-explained material in this debate, which was excellent to see. And finally, we think there were some really excellent moments of characterization giving us the picture of what the world looked like that we really enjoyed.

So to the decision, how did we decide this debate? We asked two questions. The first question is, will the proposal of the affirmative team change individual behaviour? And the first part of this question that the panel asked was, how will this work?

Under the affirmative, they told us that what this would do was drive people away from habits that were clearly unhealthy-- it was degrading their health, their ability to work productively-- by creating a powerful negative incentive, which, if it was not the outright threat of being fired, the fact that they could now be discriminated against in hiring and firing because of these lifestyle factors-- it was a powerful additional incentive to change their life.

How did the negative team respond to this? We think they responded in two interesting and complimentary ways. The first of those was to ask, why do people make these unhealthy decisions in the first place? And we thought-- they gave us a very compelling account, that for the largest number of people, we're talking about people who are low-to middle class who engage in these behaviours because they are a fact of life.

Perhaps this is the way they relax in their downtime. Perhaps driving through the McDonald's drive-through is just more convenient after a 12-hour day at work in providing food for the family. And that compelling account of the motivations and interests and why people made that decision we think helped drive and allow us to understand why that naturally might be the case.

The second justification was a bit more principle. It was a bit more abstract from reality and just said, we actually think people have a right to make decisions about their lives. They are allowed to sacrifice a small amount of their health to engage in habits that they find meaningful and determine a life that is meaningful and beneficial to them.

And we think those were quite powerful attacks against the proposals of the affirmative team. The affirmative team responded to this by saying, well, look, we agree that often these things are facts of life, and there are elements of convenience. But they responded by suggesting that, in fact, it was equally convenient to engage in things like Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig to make those necessary lifestyle behaviours.

We think, though, that the negative team was able to get ahead on this by reminding us about the most vulnerable stakeholders in this group, the limited degree of income flexibility they had and, importantly, its second negative suggesting that the sorts of behaviours these people would be driven to, particularly because they may not have the best access to medical resources, to dieticians, or, indeed, to Jenny Craig, at worst suggested that they might deliberately degrade their own health in pursuit of additional jobs or job opportunities.

But at worst, at best, rather, just suggested that we were going to drastically exacerbate the stress and pressure and harm the psyche of those individuals. At that end, we thought this was very unlikely to shift behaviour of these individuals in a meaningful way.

But that being said, the debate then came to the second question, which was, even if individuals are unlikely to change their behaviour, are there important considerations from the perspective of business and other groups that might still justify this as a necessary discrimination in the workplace?

And the first part of this was to ask, is there a believable risk from people engaging in unhealthy lifestyle factors that might affect customers or coworkers? Here the affirmative team had two claims. One was that second-hand smoke particularly exposed people to unhealthy levels of risk and exposed people to potentially quite serious consequences and, secondly, that people engaging in unhealthy behaviours like consuming Big Macs at the workplace drove and incentivized others to do so.

What were the responses of the negative team to this? The first, I think, was just that we needed to weigh the believability of the second and third-hand smoke argument, particularly in relation to the fact that if smoke was particularly poisonous, if it was on people's clothes, they could engage in things like washing those clothes.

But the more developed response was just to suggest that, actually, with regards to those things, we have plenty of existing safeguards. We have things like smoke-free zones. We make smokers go further away from businesses. They aren't allowed to do that in public areas.

And then in the vast majority of instances, we were talking about workers engaging in these behaviours in their downtime after work or during approved breaks at work, and we think that suggested quite clearly that the level of risk was likely to be unlikely, was likely to be quite small.

With regards to copying or emulating that behaviour, we thought that kind of-- we thought that point, whilst interesting, firstly needed additional development, and we think it's also somewhat explained by the second question. The second part of this is, did this impact business profitability? And on that basis, was it fair for businesses to discriminate?

And we think here what the affirmative team suggested somewhat was that this would naturally be more profitable because people who are obese will likely be less productive in the workplace and hiring non-obese people might be more productive.

We think the negative team challenged this in a number of intelligent ways. The first is to point out that health and productivity aren't necessarily synonymous, that someone can be incredibly productive in types of jobs to still spend-- despite still engaging in behaviours that are quite unhealthy.

The second was to say, in the assessment of levels of how unhealthy someone is, employers are likely to do that in a very flawed way, and this was, we thought, a very strong analysis from the second negative to suggest, that the way this would manifest in an interview is someone using very subjective measures like how much someone's gut hangs over their belt, how much someone wheezes, the smell of their clothes, the level-- the visible quality of their teeth, and that that wouldn't necessarily correlate with how healthy someone actually was.

Finally, we thought it was fair for the negative team to point out that the affirmative team was never quite clear about the level of risk and harm. If the level of harm of second-hand smoking and a culture of eating Big Macs was so bad, we thought the affirmative team often harmed their ability to be clear on that by saying, well, look, this is a choice, and lots of people who engage in those behaviours wouldn't be fired.

We thought perhaps that it would have been more consistent and perhaps more direct for the affirmative team to say, yes, this would be a very strong incentive, yes, these people would be fired but that that was an appropriate and intelligent decision for businesses.

So at the end of this debate, because we thought this was unlikely to change behaviour and because we thought there wasn't sufficient risks to others or harms to profitability, in a unanimous decision we've given the debate to the negative team from Sydney. But congratulations to [inaudible].


HARVEY SHEAD: Thank you, guys. That was a very interesting and engaging debate and certainly one of the hardest we've had here. We'd like to wish you luck in your future debates. Thank you very much.

EMILY HEILER: So it was our second time facing you guys, and still it was just as challenging as the first time. You guys are an amazing team by any standards, but the fact that you only have three people is just crazy, so good job on that. You put forth some really strong arguments that challenged us as a team. So good job on getting into the grand final, and thank you for making it so enjoyable for all of us.

PRESENTER: First speaker Harvey Shead, Second speaker Katelan Philpott, Third speaker Harry, and their coach, [? lynn ?] [? nicholson, ?] come to the front [inaudible]

I need to mention [? lynn's ?] about to start her long service leave for three months, is it, [? lynn? ?] Congratulations.

And now for the winning team from Sydney, First Speaker Grace Lam, Second Speaker Luca Charlier, Third Speaker Cooper Gannon, Fourth Speaker Emily Heiler, as well as our chairperson and also member of the team, Arabella De Nett.

And to share the final medal, the two coaches, Cathy and Emma. Now presenting the [? neil ?] [? gunther ?] shield to the victorious region, Sydney.

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