Video transcript
NSW Premier's Debating Challenge 2019 - Year 11 Metropolitan Final

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PAUL MARSHALL: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Whitlam Institute. I'd like to acknowledge the [inaudible] people, who are the traditional custodians of this land. I'd also like to pay respects to their elders past, present, and emerging, and extend that respect to Aboriginals who are present.

My name is Paul Marshall. I'm the Relieving Speaking Competition's Coordinator at the Arts Unit of the New South Wales Department of Education. You are about to witness the 2019 final of the Premier's Debating Challenge for Year 11 students for the Karl Cramp trophy.

Before the debate commences, though, I'd like to tell you something of the person after whom the trophy for the winning team is named. Karl Cramp was educated at Fort Street High School and Sydney University, where he graduated with a Master of Arts. He was a lecturer in history at Sydney Teachers College, and then an inspector of English and history with the New South Wales Department of Education.

Inspired by the generosity of a fellow member of the Royal Australian Historical Society-- Ms. Hume Barber-- who established the Hume Barber Debating Competition in 1930, Cramp established a further competition in 1953.

We are also thankful for the very privileged association with the Whitlam Institute, which is based at Western Sydney University. And I'd now like to invite the director of the Whitlam Institute, Ms. Leanne Smith, to come forward to welcome us here today.


LEANNE SMITH: Thank you, Paul, and welcome, everybody, on this grey old day. Thank you for making it out to the Female Orphan School.

So, welcome to the Whitlam Institute, which is obviously positioned in this absolutely wonderful heritage building, which also sits, as Paul said, on the land of Dharug people. And I'd like to pay my respects to their elders past, present and future as well, and welcome any Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people who are with us today.

I'd also like to welcome the principals, teachers, and students, of course, from Sydney Girls High School, from North Sydney Girls High School, and from Auburn Girls High School. I see a trend here. Do you?


Also, a special welcome to representatives from the New South Wales Department of Education; and also, finally, to our very special guests today-- Catherine Dovey and Anthony Whitlam.

This is the second year that this event has been held at the Whitlam Institute, and we're so happy to have it here again, and to carry on the legacy of the Events Association with Western Sydney University. As many of you would be aware, EG Whitlam was passionate about the role that young people play in our society, and the importance of hearing their voices raised in conversations about who we are as a people, and where we go as a country. So it's for that reason that the Whitlam Institute is really passionately also interested in the voice of young people.

Some of you might know that we try and engage in this area in a couple of different ways. You might have heard of the What Matters writing competition. This year we had our biggest year ever, with over 4,500 entries increasingly from across the country. A wonderful opportunity for young people to raise their voices and to let us know what matters to them in their democracy.

Another part of our engagement with young people is through our civics education programme. We have primary and secondary programmes that are really designed to help young Australians feel like they have a voice in their democracy, and help them find ways to pursue issues that they're passionate about. So there are two ways that we try and contribute in this space. And of course, supporting this amazing debate is another way that we're really encouraged and enthused to get involved.

So all that's left for me to say, I think, is bon courage to both of the teams. Just thinking about what you're about to do is making my knees shake. I remember that feeling well, that I'm sure you have now. So may the strongest argument win, and good luck to you all. Thank you.


NOSRAT FAREHA: [inaudible] to the state final of the Premier's Debating Challenge for Year 11 for the Karl Craft trophy. This debate is between Sydney Girls High School and North Sydney Girls High School. The affirmative team from Sydney Girls High School is first speaker, Amy Wade; second speaker, Maddy Sloan; third speaker, Ally Pitt; and fourth speaker Grace Lam.

The negative team from North Sydney Girls High School is first speaker, Katie Kim; second speaker, Aalia Syed; third speaker, Chanel Kim; and fourth speaker, Hannah Jamal.

Each speaker may speak for eight minutes. There will be a warning bell at six minutes, with two bells at eight minutes, to indicate that the speaker's time has expired. A bell will be run continuously if a speaker exceeds the maximum time by more than one minute.

The topic for this debate is that the government should pay ransoms for citizens who are taken hostage overseas. The first affirmative speaker, Amy, will begin the debate.


AMY WADE: A citizen who has done nothing wrong, did not ever have the responsibility to die as a martyr because of the potential future impacts on terrorism. The US, who did not ever negotiate with terrorists, had exactly the same problems as Germany, who did. Governments had an obligation to citizens-- most importantly to save their lives-- for the state's own fault. And this could be undermined for nothing.

Before I get into my team's case today, a bit of set-up. So we'd like to outline here that these are incidents that could happen to anyone, and we'd like to specify three different stakeholders-- first of all, members of the government-- so people who are targeted specifically for their connection to the state for reasons of either publicity or for information; second of all, private citizens who are taken by chance because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, who are targeted towards-- who were targeted for publicity. Note here that these are people of any social standing, and that could happen to anyone. Thirdly, journalists and aid workers who are targeted not just by terrorist groups, but also by states in-- by separate states around the world.

With that in mind, three points are substantive today. First of all, why the state has an obligation to protect its citizens. Second of all, how we decrease the power of terrorist organisations. And thirdly, then, why we save the lives of as many Australian citizens as possible.

Firstly, the principal point about the obligation to protect citizens. Four reasons for this. First of all, that we thought that there was a reciprocal relationship that existed between the State and the citizen, that for the private state, the citizens that we outlined to you earlier, that meant things like the taxes and the contributions that that person made to the State. We also thought that within these government workers that was kind of more explicit-- right?-- because these were people who donated their labour to the State for the betterment of the place that they lived in, and to ensure the function of the state as a entity.

Thirdly then, for the people who are actively doing good-- those people like journalists and aid workers. We thought the reciprocal relationship was very clear, because their contribution was literally making the world a better place in as many ways as they could. We thought that because these people were able to contribute to the State, and because they did that, the State had a really clear responsibility to protect them in situations like this.

Secondly then, the citizen lacks fault in these situations. We didn't think at any point should you have to die because someone committed a crime against you, especially because often the crime is because of an antagonistic relationship between two parties-- that being the state that you're from-- your own government-- and the group that's taking you hostage, right? We never thought that these people should be forced to be martyrs just because the state couldn't pay for them because they didn't think that was the right move. We thought that these people were at no point signing up for this kind of treatment, even with things like the [inaudible] travel warnings. We thought that these were often unexpected places, especially to places that didn't necessarily have travel warnings. Note that we're specifically talking about the kind of journalist incidents that happen so often in places where they're unexpected.

We also thought that even if someone went to a place that they'd been warned not to go to, they were at no point signing up to die because of that decision. Then, because of that, we thought because, A, the citizen wasn't at fault, and B, the State specifically was, the State had a responsibility to protect these citizens by paying the ransom.

Thirdly then, we thought that the state had this responsibility because it acted as an equaliser. We thought it was really, truly unfair that the people who could pay-- that is, rich people who were taken hostage-- were able to get out of these situations and be saved. We thought it was actually incredibly principally immoral for the State to allow that to happen. And because of that, we thought it was really important that they were able to pay so that as many people as possible could get out of these situations-- not just those who can afford it. Because we thought that at no point would someone who was-- just could pay a ransom privately be more worthy of being saved.

Fourthly then, the fact that these kinds of incidents have such incredible impact on others. We're talking here about family and friends. We thought that these kind of implications had such broad implications in even just one single incident. They were generally very traumatic for everyone around them, and we thought that especially when those people had some kind of a hope of it being reversed, and then that was not happened-- that was not brought to fruition, we thought it was really traumatic, and we wanted to protect people from that.

We also thought that the person who was being taken generally had some sort of societal value, whether that be because of their labour or their contributions to the State. So we thought that it was really important that the government fulfil their obligation there again to protect these people by paying ransoms.

Here, we'd like to, at the end of this point, we'd like to make a quick comparison to the idea that we thought the opposition was talking about, which would be this obligation to not fund terrorist groups because that was immoral. We thought that first of all, the lack of money really wasn't a problem for terrorist groups, who generally have massive ties to oil industry, and also massive capability to inflict violence in order to get as much money as possible. These incidents were for publicity.

And we thought that given that the comparison here was the terrorist groups taking more land, or pillaging more villages-- right?-- we thought it was much-- and that person was still killed, we thought that it was really clear to us that our principal was still much better in terms of net benefits. And also we thought that just based on the fact that there was this incredibly important obligation of the government to protect its citizens, for them to win, they would have to prove to us that not a single person would get taken hostage under their case because that principal obligation was so, so, so important.

With that in mind, moving on to the second point of substantive, which is why we decrease the power of terrorist organisations. Note here that the main goal of these terror organisations is not just-- is that generally to cause fear to achieve their outcomes. But we thought that there were potentially common goals in terms of providing for natural disasters, and rebuilding places, and sharing resources, and stuff like that.

Then, with that in mind, two main points here. First of all, how our model increases the likelihood of diplomatic cooperation. We thought it was kind of clear to us today that its [inaudible] would be much more likely to cooperate and negotiate with the State if they weren't literally killing their people, and if that kind of action wasn't happening. We thought that the states would be also much more willing to cooperate if their people weren't being killed, and we saw that is really important, that especially the terrorist groups could see that. That meant that we open lines of communications. And this was especially important for incidents of state-sponsored terrorism, because that meant better relationships between the State itself and the country.

We thought that that meant more stability for citizens in terrorist-affected countries, and that meant things like getting-- for example, clean water for citizens in Yemen. That meant that we were able to open these channels of negotiation to a much greater extent than was possible under the status quo.

Secondly then, under this point, is how we decrease the power of terrorist organisations to spread fear among the people. Note again that as I put-- aspired to you at the start, that was generally the main goal of the terrorist organisations. We thought that this was true, first of all, because the kind of thing that spread fear was the kind of videos that we saw-- for example of journalists being beheaded. And when we stop these kinds of incidents, we could stop, as much as possible, these kinds of things instruments of spreading fear being used by terrorist organisations.

Secondly then, we thought that it was true, because we stopped the amount of their capacity for recruitment, because recruitment was often spread through these people showing their power over the State by committing acts of violence or murder. And we thought that when we could try and stop that from happening by paying ransoms, that became much less likely, and that meant that they were much less capable of gaining all of these recruits.

Then here, at the end of this point, we'd like to again go through the comparative, which is, if we don't give a ransom what does that give? What kind of powers [inaudible] the terrorist organisation.

We thought there were three options for what the organisation would do in this situation. First of all, we thought that there would be no incentive for them to actually stop being terrorists. That meant that they would-- because it was such a potent way for them to spread publicity and fear, and spread their message. We thought that that meant they were likely to turn towards other areas of attack, that are things like bombing more people, or doing a whole load of really aggressive attacks.

We thought then the second option here was that they would still take-- they would still ask a ransom in the hope that the government would pay them, but that probably wasn't going to happen, was that people were just going to be being killed in the hope that these-- these terrorist organisations can get money, which they wouldn't.

And thirdly, if they were needing money, then the comparative [inaudible] would then be like pillaging another city, or creating a whole load of damage in that way. Now, [inaudible] outcomes are mutually exclusive, because they actively open cooperation and communication.

With that in mind, a quick third point in substantive, which is why we save lives of more Australian citizens. We thought this was fairly self-explanatory, because we'd pay money in order to stop people getting killed. They don't get killed. And even if some still do, we thought that overwhelmingly this would be the minority would be able to save way more lives by paying the ransom. And it was really unlikely that these terrorist groups would go back on their word. Just empirically we've seen that that doesn't happen. It is really important, because we feel that the right to life was something that was really important. And for these reasons, we [inaudible] to affirm.


KATIE KIM: Ladies and gentlemen, we are on the negative side of the house today. We Obviously agree that taking hostages of Australian citizens is in no doubt a serious issue. And yes, we believe that it is the duty and the role of the government to protect its citizens in these kinds of dangerous situations.

But what we believe the affirmative team has failed to recognise is that by 'on their side' they're only legitimising these sorts of terrorist groups and individuals, and that we will only end up financing and enabling these dangerous individuals and organisations to continue their campaigns and continue doing what they are doing, because we are providing them essentially with a greater incentive.

So on our side, we just have-- before I get onto my substantive, I have a few pieces of rebuttal to address today. So on the affirmative we heard that this government has an obligation to save and protect their citizens, and that citizens have provided labour and tax to the State, and that it's not the citizen's fault. So we should be doing what these individuals are telling us to do. And yes, we agree that the role of the government is to protect its citizens, and we think that is a principal duty that the government needs to fulfil.

But we believe that this kind of role is probably better under our side of the model-- under our side of the argument, because we are not prolonging the kind of-- we are not enabling these groups and individuals to continue what they are doing. Because essentially, under the opposition's side, we are just doing exactly what they are demanding us to do, and this means that we are just providing them incentives to continue to take more hostages, and to continue having this sort of view where the West is really weak place that they continually target because we will just do whatever they tell us to do.

Furthermore, we believe that yes, it's not the citizen's fault. But again, this can be addressed under our side, and not their side, because we think that by funding these groups, and providing money-- yes, even if they might already have a lot of money-- we don't think that is quite relevant, because obviously, giving that kind of legitimization through those payments, and then, obviously, kind of like that media coverage, which I would [inaudible] in my case, means that we-- that this means that these people and organisations are just doing-- are just gaining what was their kind of primary goal, which is money, and also attention. Which means that they will just find that if they target anything Australian and Australian citizens, they will just end up getting what they were originally achieving, which we believe is not what we want to do, obviously.

And we think that, yes, if our government responds with a ransom, and does exactly the things the attackers say, and, for example, it doesn't work, and that sends an even worse social message to the public. And, obviously, we have already said that this is not going to be effective, as I will continue on in my substantive.

On to my case. As the first speaker of the negative team, I'll be talking about how paying ransom to terrorist organisations is only going to end up financing these people, which is going to have very negative effects, including long-term on detriments; as well as how we will be legitimising these people through media coverage if we continue to pay these ransoms. And my second speaker will be talking about the increased danger to Australian citizens in the future as a direct result of the affirmative team's proposal to continue to pay this ransom.

So on to my first point, about how the affirmative's side of paying ransoms is simply going to finance these people. So we think that there will be multiple harms that will come out of doing this. Firstly, these people will be rewarded for taking these hostages, which is the exact opposite of what we want them to do, because the last thing that we want them to do is to just have their views, and have their kind of-- their goals be emboldened because we are doing exactly what they want them to-- what they want to do.

We are also going to be encouraging them by doing this if we give them this kind of financial boost because we are also giving them a reaction which is, again, what they want, and they'll just continue to feel this incentive to target Australian citizens. And we think that this is going to happen because, like I've mentioned before, we can ultimately-- what these people want by taking these hostages is money and also attention through social destruction. And obviously, under the affirmative side, if we give them money, then we are just doing exactly what we want them-- what they want to do, which we don't want to happen.

And we think that this can lead to further long-term harm of us financing these people when they take hostages in the future, which means that we are enabling them to do things like buy guns, buy explosives, buy plane tickets so that they can continue to make these really negative attacks on these innocent villagers and citizens, which we think could be avoided if we just take a more hard-line approach.

And furthermore, continuing to finance them just in general lets them continue their campaigns, and keep up their resistance with us militaristically, which we also think is very bad in the long term-- because our goal ultimately is to literally stop war, and stop terrorism, and stop these organisations and individuals' continued resistance against international peacekeepers. And we want to stop them from continuing to attack these vulnerable towns and citizens. And essentially we want to protect or reduce the harms that are inflicted on these innocent citizens.

However, we think that the affirmative's case actually upholds these sorts of goals of these organisations, as I have outlined before. So while these harms are mitigated, or at least reduced under our side-- well, firstly, we won't be rewarding these people for taking our hostages. And we'll be saying, we don't think that we're just going to do whatever you do, because obviously, we understand that's going to create this really serious and negative long-term effects.

We won't be encouraging them, because we won't be giving them this sort of financial incentive and financial boost. And we also [inaudible] giving them a reaction, which we also think is very positive for the long term, because they'll be less incentivized to continue to target Australia if they realise that they're getting nothing out of it.

So we think that not only is the affirmative's case going to further be detrimental to these citizens who the affirmative has also agreed have a right to survive and be protected by the government, but also our side is actively better, because we're providing a disincentive for these organisations to continue making these really harmful attacks.

Secondly, onto my point about how we will be legitimising these people for media coverage if we do pay ransoms. So the second incentive of these people that we identified was that what these people want when they take hostages is media coverage and attention, and because they want to create this kind of social unrest. However, these people-- it's because we think these people want to be as public as possible in order to get that kind of coverage.

However, we think that-- because we think that that publication and media coverage enables them to send very radical messages, and they are able to achieve their goal of radicalising more people and recruiting more people, because what they want to do through this media coverage is they want to try and target as many people as possible, and they want to try and radicalise as many people who are disillusioned, or generally uneducated in politics or in general; or they want to target people who have been displaced, or are refugees, are already in really horrible conditions, and they don't really have anything to look-- to look to with hope.

But then these sorts of really radical and strong views allows them to kind of be provided with a beacon of hope that they can actually direct their suffering for something. So these are the kinds of peoples we think are primarily affected, and are primarily targeted by these [inaudible] hostages when they want to try and radicalise-- when they want to try and radicalise an audience through media coverage.

So we think that, yes, these sorts of people and organisations use the media to target these kinds of audiences. However, if we pay the ransom, they will be likelier to-- these people will be likelier to exaggerate their actions as a kind of triumph against the West. So they'll be able to sensationalise what they've done on things like social media platforms.

Furthermore, paying ransoms means that the event of a hostage, it makes that event much more open, and it makes it much bigger than it originally was, which means that then the media gets involved, and it's an immense amount of media coverage. We have seen in the past of the government being told to pay ransoms. And this is broadcast on national TV and in news articles, because now there's large sums of money involved. So we think that paying ransoms only increases media coverage, which is feeding into the objective kind of goal that these organisations are trying to achieve. And we think that, yes, these people do social media posts for any of their conquests.

But the reason why we believe that ransoms are uniquely bad and are particularly a bad idea, like under the affirmative's model, is because if we do end up paying the ransoms, then it becomes a success story that they can then [inaudible] on, and they can then sensationalise all over the news, which we obviously think is extremely bad, and only kind of perpetuates their kinds of beliefs, which is the last thing that we want to do. And we don't want to be legitimising them.

And we've also seen examples where a hard-line approach does-- does, in fact, do an effective job in kind of disincentivizing these people from making further harmful attacks. For example, in the 2014 Lindt Cafe attack, although that wasn't an overseas event, we still think that the mindset and the nature of the event does reflect the kind of general, broader mindset of these sorts of organisations and people because ultimately the attacker's goal was to create disruption and social unrest by creating a lot of attention. And we didn't let them get their ransom, and we didn't let them talk with the Prime Minister. And eventually they did give up. So we have seen examples where this is actually effective.

But so that is why, for these reasons, we believe that the affirmative's side is only going to be legitimising these people through the ransom. And also we're going to be financing [inaudible] once. And that is why we at the negative are [inaudible].


MADELEINE SLOAN: The government taking a principled stance against funding terrorism was never going to stop these terrorists from getting the money if they wanted or needed it, when they could just simply pillage another village or make another deal with some rich oil mogul-- person. And what it was going to do was automatically sign a death warrant for completely innocent Australian citizens, who we proved to you, non contingently at first, the government had an obligation to protect.

Two issue of rebuttal today before I move on to this point of substantive on how it's in the government's best interest to get these people back, the first being on the issue of the government's obligation to its citizens; and the second I'm looking at the outcomes for the hostages-- for the terrorist groups, and terrorism [inaudible].

So on the first principal issue, we told you very clearly-- we gave you four reasons at first why the government had an obligation to the citizens. Only two of them were responded to by the opposition. They told you that they were going to-- that stopping terrorism fulfils the greater target, and that they were going to stop more hostages being taken. Therefore, that was where the government obligation lay.

I've got three responses. First of all, we told you at first that we gave them the burden that they would have to stop all terrorism for this to be true, because as long as some terrorism was existing, there are still Australian citizens at risk by the people. So we didn't think that that was a worthy obligation when they had a direct Australian citizen whose lives they were responsible for that they were letting go.

The second response is that we told you very clearly that they were not going to get less hostages taken onto their side. We gave you the example of the US and Germany. You see the same number of hostages taken, even though Germany pays ransoms and the US doesn't. So we didn't think that that at all going to decrease under their side. Many countries in the world today negotiate with terrorists.

And then thirdly, we told you-- we still told you-- we gave you reasons how it's really unfair-- principally unfair-- when someone who can't afford to pay the ransom then dies because the government won't pay for them, whereas someone who's rich and can completely [inaudible] responded too.

And also we told you about obligation to the family. We thought these were always non-continuing obligations that the government had, and that when they had the power to save the lives of this particular individual, and they knew they were going to, we thought it was really abhorrent for them not to. And this obligation always existed for them to step in. And when it was very easy for them to do. So we think that that issue is clearly shown. So the government had an obligation.

Moving on to the second issue of [inaudible], which the opposition wanted to focus on today, which is the practical outcomes of terrorism. They give us a couple of points here. They told us that first of all, financing terrorist groups is always going to be bad, and second of all, that they were legitimising terrorist groups. In terms of financing terrorist groups, they told you that we were going to be rewarded for taking hostages, and that we should never be encouraging a financial boost.

Three responses again. We think that, first of all, financing things-- like we told you that these terrorists will always get it anyway through private ransoms, through sacking another village. We thought that this was our response to these terrorist groups, it was like super rich and powerful, sometimes state-sponsored.

We think that the reason that they go for hostages is because it's an easy way for them to get money from the government. But we don't think that is going to stop them from getting money overall, and we'd rather than-- we rather-- again, we told you we'd rather then get this money than have all the harms that we're giving away down the bench. So we think that-- we think that we didn't see a problem at all with the government financing the organisation, considering they're going to get it anyway.

The second thing they told you that is that-- yeah, that's the second response. This is we think [inaudible] you always get more attention when you kill the hostages. And I'll respond to that later. But they completely ignored all of our first speaker material and that.

And then the third thing we told you, after all these reasons that terrorists-- decreased terrorism-- decreased on our side, which is like-- and the diplomatic negotiations being open. Because we felt that in terms of obligations of the citizens, these citizens in these at-risk countries were more at risk of dying of hunger and starvation first, lack of access to basic facilities, than actually being shot by a terrorist. We thought these were the things we need to solve. These were the things we were going to solve on the outside with diplomatic negotiation, that [inaudible] channels would open when you start actually talking to these terrorists and building connections through paying ransoms rather than just having this non-spoken thing where you just kill each other each other's people. We thought that these were really important negotiations that got opened, which were completely unresponsive, which was going to actually have the best outcomes for the citizens in these countries.

So we thought that financing terrorist groups was never an issue we have [inaudible] when you got all the outcomes we gave you, and also because these terrorist groups are getting it anyway. And then the second thing they told you here is that it was really harmful to legitimise these terrorist groups through media coverage. And they told you then it would be exaggerated in excess, and used-- possibly used for recruitment and stuff.

And again, we think this was completely unresponsive to output when we tell you the exact same thing. And we think that-- we think that, first of all, beheading-- beheading someone live, and having millions of people watch it on a video, is much worse and much better at spreading fear than the terrorists going, oh, then the terrorist saying that the Australian government paid the money. Do you think that's the type of direct recruitment that people will [inaudible]? We always think that it's going to be more powerful, we think.

And second of all, we think that when you have the ransoms dragged out for a long time, because the government just didn't pay the ransoms, the longer that these hostages are in the possession of these terrorist groups, the more media coverage there is about it. That's the more fear that we're going to get spread. We'd much rather on our side the ransom just gets paid quickly, and then the media coverage will eventually die out too. We always thought that was much better on the outside.

And third, we think of-- you hear about more about American hostages, for example, because of America's no negotiation with terrorist policy, than you do about France, Germany, or the European countries like-- that pay ransoms all the time. So we feel that it was very obvious that on the outside, the media coverage was always going to be a lot more minimal, a lot more better, and there side was always going to be more exaggerated when you had a ritual like ritual beheading, ritual head-- when you were able to post these photos everywhere, send them on chats and everything, and get recruitment. So we build that.

And we, also, moreover, we didn't think that-- we thought that in terms of legitimising terrorist groups, again, we told you that we felt like this was [inaudible] these were terrorist groups. They would-- if they existed, they were always going to be there. And we thought that it was much more important that we were starting to get on board with them, and acknowledging them, rather than just pretending that they don't exist, and let them kill our citizens, because they didn't make up large parts of government sometimes. They had to be something that we were OK with negotiating with.

And then they gave you this Lindt Cafe example, which we thought was really weird, because not only did the longer that it draw out the more media attention it got, but also two innocent people died. So we thought that was not a good outcome of that. And again, not relevant, because it was [inaudible] anyway.

So at the end of this issue, we thought that outcomes for the hostages, we thought that they were always going to be returned to Australia, which we thought was really good. And we thought that terrorism would get a lot-- our relationship with terrorist groups would get a lot better, which is going to be able to provide those outcomes to the people who really needed it in these countries. We were always going to get better practical outcomes on the outside.

So then moving on to my point of [inaudible] here, which is about how getting these people back is definitely in the government's best interest. So two simple reasons for this. First of all, that these hostages, when we get them back, have information about these terrorist organisations that can be helpful to like fighting them.

We think that this increase looks like, talking with your fellow hostages about where they've been in their experiences. We think this looks like recognising voices of your captors. We think this looks like a [inaudible] about your location, depending on the weather, what sounds you can hear. All of this information can be really useful for the government to [inaudible] that, and it's definitely in their interest to get access to this information, which they won't be if they're killed because you haven't paid the ransom.

And the second thing is we think that often, if these people are being held-- if these are government operatives being held, we think the State security can sometimes be at risk. We think often these people have valuable information, and we think it's best to get them out of there as soon as possible by paying the ransom rather than letting them be tortured more and more, so that this information's at risk of getting out. And this looks like revealing spies located in these terrorist organisations, or information that can help them further carry out terrorist attacks. These are the types of terrorism that we would see advanced under the opposition side, which we thought were would definitely going to stop on our side.

We've already proven to you that these terrorist organisations have very strong incentives to return these hostages easily as soon as the ransom is paid. So we think that ultimately it is much better for us to be getting these-- to get-- and getting these people back, taking them home to Australia, and using the information that we can.

And then [inaudible] that not only did the government have an undeniable obligation to pull out their citizen at risk of dying from an overseas country when they had every means to, and not many good reasons not to. And we think that terrorism is always going to be lessened under our side. We think that we can actually develop negotiations with terrorist groups, and get much better outcomes. We're so, so [inaudible].


AALIA SYED: Ladies and gentlemen, the opposition today has falsely concocted that their case today better serves the government duty to protect its citizens. However, today we will prove to you why the short- and long-term implications of financing these radical organisations is ultimately more harmful for Australian citizens, and puts them in more danger than if we do not finance and legitimise these people who take people hostage.

Before I begin, I would like to rebut. And I have three main areas of contention. Firstly, how the two stances of the debate either decrease or increase the power of organisation; and then secondly, on financial incentives; and thirdly, on the role of the government.

So firstly, on this first topic of how our side of the debate actually decreases the power of organisation. So the opposition talked about how their side will decrease the power of these organisations by creating better relationships with Australia and overseas countries. However, we think this is a very idealistic viewpoint, and we're going to explain to you why Australia, and the oversea-- and the organisation will not become best friends, because firstly these organisations are committing these acts of taking people hostage for financial and attention-seeking motives. These are not morally good motives. So why on Earth would these organisations want to become best friends with Australia? These are not the motives of these organisations. So it was a very idealistic viewpoint that the opposition has created.

Secondly, on this issue, they talked about how if we don't give ransoms in our side of the case, these organisations will become more violent, and they'll turn to more violent measures of fulfilling their attention [inaudible] desires. However, we would like to point out that violent terrorist acts actually happen all over the world, and do not get the media coverage that we see things like ransoms and beheading videos do. And the reason-- we have examples of terrorist attacks in Afghanistan and Yemen. And these terrorist attacks hardly get any media coverage.

And the whole point of why do these organisations want media coverage? Because that's what fuels their desires to take people hostage in the first place. Because it directly involves our country and that organisation, it is more likely that taking people hostage will get more media coverage because it's Australia's direct response to these threats to our citizens.

However, by not giving ransoms, even if organisations turn to more violent activities, they won't get the attention that they want. And this is why we should stop giving ransoms, because ransoms are ultimately what feeds into this attention-seeking desire that these organisations want, which is what I will explore later on in my case. So even if organisations turn to more violent means of getting attention, they'll be less likely to commit these violent acts because it's not receiving the media coverage that they want.

So secondly, on this issue of financial incentives, the opposition came out and said that these organisations don't want the money. This is not the incentive for them. However, we would like to say that money is a significant financial incentive for these organisations-- and here's why. Because even if we give heaps-- like millions and thousands of dollars to these organisations, we are radicalising these organisations. We are giving them the money, the resources that they need to weaponize themselves to create really big, expensive plans to create more social destruction. We are giving them money so that they can grow. And they will become even more of a threat to Australia and other countries globally. This is a global threat we're talking about.

So the opposition said that money will not stop-- giving them money will not stop them from finding other means of getting money. However, I would like to say, if you give money to these people who take people hostages, these will not stop. These will not stop these beheading videos from happening. It will actually encourage these.

And this is because if we just give money-- if we give money to these organisations, they're going to think that, oh, Australia, is an easy target for us to exploit. We can get money from them easily. We can create social disruption easily. So why wouldn't we target Australian citizens. And this is what I will expand on later in my point.

So thirdly, on this whole kind of safety and role of the government, protecting the safety of Australian citizens, they talked about how citizens don't have fault in this issue, and we should protect them because they don't have the right to become martyrs. We should force them to be.

And we would like to say, outside of the model, by just disincentivizing them financially, and their attention-seeking motives, we will be reducing the risk of Australian citizens, which I will expand on later in my case, and we'll be reducing the amount of [inaudible] in the future. And so I would like to prove it later on in my case why the government obligation of the duty to protect its citizens doesn't actually stand with the opposition's case. We're about to propose an alternative to protect minors in the short term, which is having hostage exchanges, which is comparatively better because it's a zero-sum exchange.

Thirdly, they talked about how by getting people from the overseas countries back, we are getting important information about that country. However, we would like to say that throughout free hostage exchanges, we can similarly get information from the country that these people were in, because these people have often suffered really traumatic lifestyles, and we could potentially get more information from that.

And the opposition's way of getting people back is more harmful because we're financially rewarding them, and giving them attention. We're giving them the attention that they want. So it's more likely that they will commit these crimes. It's more likely that they'll commit hostages. And it's more likely that these Australian citizens will be in danger.

So now on to my case. So now it's my case [inaudible] our side of the case ultimately better protects Australian citizens, and therefore better fulfils the government's duty to protect its citizens. As we have stated in first, an organisation that will take someone hostage is going to do so for two main reasons-- money as a financial reward, and attention through social disruption spread through news outlets and media coverage. Paying ransom incentivizes these organisations to be more likely to [inaudible] take Australian citizens hostages because it feeds into this monetary and attention-seeking incentives.

Firstly, the opposition is financially and economically supporting these groups, making them more likely to radicalise through purchasing more dangerous weapons, and creating more-- and increasing the likelihood of creating more traumatic and expensive social ploys, making their groups of more of a threat to global societies. Moreover, we are making Australian citizens more vulnerable because we are feeding into these organisations by giving them financial incentives easily.

Under the opposition's case, it is more likely that we will be giving ransoms. So why wouldn't terrorist organisations continue to take Australian citizens as an easy way of becoming economically strong and powerful, which simultaneously further endangers Australian citizens because they will be easily targeted and manipulated as an easy way to get some sort of a financial incentive?

Secondly, by paying ransoms, we are giving more media attention to these organisations, as my first speaker stated. The opposition is legitimising these radical organisations by giving them a platform for society to be exposed to. This feeds into incentivising these organisations into taking more hostages as we are feeding into their desire for social disruption. What this means is that Australian citizens will be targeted, as easy ways to fulfil their desire for attention, as easy ways of being on the news as a person who is demanding large sums of money, as easy ways to fulfil their demand for media coverage-- an example of the softness of the West.

Hence, our stance better fulfils Australian government duty to protect the rights of citizens in the long term, which is extremely important. And this is why we feel that our stance better fulfils our government's duty to protect Australian citizens. Thank you.


ALLY PITT: The reality is, what they're talking about-- legitimising terrorist organisations-- terrorist organisations that control huge swathes of land in the Middle East and terrorise the lives of millions of citizens living there-- legitimising them is actually just acknowledging that these terrorist organisations have huge amounts of power to inflict huge amounts of damage over these people. We need to concede that terrorist groups are a threat outside of the specify actually limiting the amount of power that they have over these swathes of land.

I'm going to be talking about two things in this speech-- firstly on whether the Australian government is morally obligated, and secondly on how this is going to affect terrorist groups and society as a whole.

Firstly, on whether the Australian government or governments were obligated, or had an obligation, to these people. We give you four reasons, the first speaker, about why this obligation exists, and why it is, importantly, not contingent on any practical outcomes-- because their only response-- and they made a bit of a substantial point about this at second day was to say, oh, well, we can make-- we can have better outcomes in the future.

But firstly, we would rather you just save the lives of these people immediately, considering they did not consent to being in such situations where their lives were put at risk in the first place. It was no fault of them. But importantly, and secondly, it was probably very likely the fault of antagonistic behaviours of the State towards terrorist organisations that led them to be in such situations in the first place. But we thought this obligation was so high that it meant that if the negative team wanted to say they don't have practical benefits to this, they had to literally stop all terrorism, because otherwise they were letting people die, and they just accepted it. This was, perhaps, morally bad, or not likely. We didn't think that was fair.

We also thought-- and I'll get onto this a bit more later-- they didn't necessarily get better outcome-- get better practical outcomes later. But even if they did, we [inaudible] you from first speaker, that individual person who was held a hostage did not consent to being the reason that they got better outcomes in the long term. They didn't say that they wanted to give up their life so the Australian government could maybe protect more people better in the long term. So it was just completely unfair. They want to push that burden on that individual who had been a hostage in the first place.

Then, second thing is, the other response to this is to say, well, they can organise hostage exchanges and have other forms of getting people back. But if they're looking to stop terrorists, which it seems like they're trying to do throughout the case, it probably doesn't seem very smart to just give these terrorist organisations back their leaders and strategists, because a smaller amount of money was probably far less useful than having extremely good advertising and propaganda. That was what terrorist organisations were really looking for. That [inaudible] is perhaps even worse than their original ideas.

At the end of this, we can see that the moral obligation that these governments have is so high that in no circumstances should we allow people-- should be allowed these people to die in any situation. But even more so, they have to prove literally a full reduction of terrorism on their side in order to win this debate, when they can see that perhaps these people did not necessarily consent to be there, and they had a moral obligation to protect them.

OK. Secondly, in a practical point then, about how this affects terrorist organisations. The first thing I'm going to talk about is whether it affects terrorist organisations financially. They say it does, because you reward them for taking hostages, and they are likely to do it again.

Let's just look at the comparative here quickly, right? Because if you know that you can't get money from hostages, you still need money somehow. You're a terrorist organisation with the same goals as you had before. You're likely to ransack a village or cause other pains among the people that live within the territory you control in order to get that money. Your needing for funding does not just stop immediately at that point.

But let's note that that outcome that is only comparative affects far more people than just taking one person hostage and taking money from the government does. These are these people living in these territories livelihood, the money that they have made, their entire life destroyed because a terrorist organisation has decided it's better to ransack them. We think that comparative is far, far better when they're taking money from a government.

But also, they then try to say, well, this makes Australia look like an easy target, so they'll be more likely to take terrorist ransoms from them. But let's note, the comparative on our worst-case scenario is slightly more Australians getting taken hostages-- if that is even true-- but absolute worse, more people getting taken hostage and surviving because the government is paying a ransom, as opposed to more people having their money stolen, their villages ransacked. We think that comparative means, even in our worst-case scenario, is far better because no one dies to the same extent that it does under theirs.

We think terrorist organisations are still likely to take off [inaudible] from their side. They'll just never get paid back. And those people will be killed by these terrorist organisations because they have the exact same incentive to follow through on their threats, [inaudible] this kind of support.

Well, they then try to-- we then tell you that these terrorists-- what I said-- these terrorist organisations have other ways to get money. We think that when you have huge amounts of control over huge amounts of people, you have so many different ways to get money, that is not just restricted to holding them hostage and things like that.

So at the end of this, we can see terrorist organisations were probably pretty fine financially, whether they held people hostage, but they were likely to hold people hostage anyway, and kill them, or just do terrible actions against the citizens of the states in which they have control over.

OK, secondly, how does this effect legitimacy? I already noted that it's probably perfectly fine to give legitimacy to terrorist states that are legitimate actors who can control huge amounts of people, and inflicts huge amounts of damage. I don't think that's necessarily bad. But the first thing they say is that we allow them to radicalise more people.

Let's note that they've admitted in their second negative speech that having beheadings gets you huge amounts of media coverage. So what that looks like to me is, under their side, terrorist organisations still holding people hostage, and saying we will behead you if you don't pay the money. Governments not paying the money. And then there's people getting beheaded, which gives these organisations a huge amount of media coverage they try to avoid on their side.

I think they'll still likely hold people hostage. They are still likely to demand money. But then also, when governments don't pay, they can then spin it as a way these governments are cruel, and they are something that we should be fighting against. That was what was going to get far more propaganda under their side. We thought that was particularly effective from them, because they were trying to spin it as an image of us versus the West. That was very powerful.

And then the second thing I try to say, well, it spins a picture of a trial against the West. But again, you have to look at the way in which it's covered, right? Because when you have a hostage or ransom being put away, you don't have any visuals to accompany it. You cannot put a picture, a video of someone getting beheaded on your propaganda. You just have to state that the Australian government paid your ransom of who knows how much money.

Let's hope this is important, because they say they are trying to radicalise people who aren't particularly politically engaged. If you're not politically engaged, an image is going to be far more convincing to you than just a statement that a ransom paid has occurred. That was why their radicalisation was far less was on their side.

But also, killing hostages was also another way of demonstrating your triumph against the West, saying you're more powerful than them. That was so much more likely to happen under their side. Also what was [inaudible] to get to the West is when he stole more territory than the area that you controlled. That was more likely to happen.

OK, so we can say it pretty much doesn't affect the funding. It doesn't affect the legitimacy in any positive way. If anything, terrorist groups have better propaganda methods under their side of the house at the end of this.

How does this affect the future of terrorism? Because we tell you from the first speaker that the things you can do when you pay these ransoms are negotiate with terrorist organisations. This is stuff like getting terrorist organisations to stop holding hostage water in Yemen so that people can actually have access to drinking water again.

There is also this second negative is again to say, well, this is idealistic, and why do these terrorist organisations want to be best friends with Australia? But what we told you from first speaker is it wasn't about being best friends with these terrorist organisations. It was about working together to ensure that your mutual interests-- like getting stability in your country-- were accomplished, right? Those things could happen when you open communications.

They try to say unlikely, because you have harsh relationships against each other. But we thought relationships were a lot harsher when you are actively killing each other's citizens-- which again, what occurs on their side-- than when you were paying off ransoms and actually opening a channel of communication. It was far more likely to be useful there.

The second and really important thing we tell you about how it affects the future of terrorism at Mali is to say that the Australian government can use the information we gain from these terrorists in a really positive way. That gets no response from them, right? But this is debate-winning material in and of itself, because we stop terrorism far better when you have information about what terrorists are doing, and how to actually actively combat them and fight them. That was really important.

At the end of this debate, the Australian government had an inalienable, moral obligation to protect the lives of people who never consented to be martyrs to their cause; but also, terrorist organisations were actively helped by the Australian government not paying ransom. We did not harm them in any way. And we also got far better outcomes for people overseas who are stuck in the territories that these terrorists controlled. So proud to affirm.


CHANEL KIM: So the critical issue of today's debate is why paying these ransoms on the opposition premise their whole model on how paying ransoms is going to protect citizens. But what we understand is that paying ransom will actually fail to protect citizens for a variety of reasons. Let's look at some [inaudible] the proof why the hostages exchange-- but why the hostages will necessarily die because these ransoms are not going to be paid. Certainly they had to prove why you're more likely to get better diplomatic negotiation by paying these ransoms. And thirdly, they have to prove why-- there's a unique-- they didn't realise that there was a unique role of hostages in these terrorist campaigns. And fourthly, this idea of legitimization under the media.

So, firstly, under the idea that the hostages would necessarily die, presumably if terrorists have kidnapped these people in order to extract ransoms, they want to keep this open as a viable option for extraction and propaganda. They will not always kill these people the moment we deny them ransom because then they have no incentive to continue to kidnap these people.

What we understand is that they talked about how-- or whether or not we deny them ransom, we're not going to get less-- get [inaudible] hostages on their side. They brought this idea how Germany pays ransoms and Americans don't. And unfortunately, there are more American hostages.

We understand is that we can't release a statistic as an idea, because we generally have just more Americans in these areas, so we're going to get more American hostages. And secondly, people have more political angst with America than with Germany because of all of the vitriol that's going around in American politics. And they just are more likely to target American citizens. We can't really help that.

And thirdly, we have this idea where, because we don't pay ransoms, the hostages are necessarily going to be tortured and killed. They brought this idea of where the American journalist was beheaded.

What we understand is that tragic as these events are, sometimes it is actually-- it is harder for the-- it's harder for the hostages to use a beheading to help the terrorist campaign, because they'll have to justify [inaudible] this. They'll get immense backlash from international media corporations. They'll get immense backlash from states, et cetera. They'll get sanctions placed on them because they've beheaded these people. They want to pursue-- they might want to pursue hostages as an alternative because of this.

What they understand is that this journalist also was not beheaded because there was no ransom. They weren't specifically targeted for this campaign, where they were actively planning to cause some massive media splash, where they were going to do this horrible [inaudible] someone. They didn't behead him because there was no ransom.

What we proposed was that we would rather have-- we would much rather have these kinds of hostages exchanges. Because comparatively, it's fair to engage in a zero-sum game than one where we lose. OK, so maybe it was not such a zero-sum game, because we do get those hostages back. What we understand is that once you-- that act of paying ransom is that you have funded these people, and I'm going to expand greater on how this funding is actively harmful, and has an impact.

And we've also given the terrorists this massive success story to base their campaign around in order to radicalise it. Furthermore on that later.

So going on to the second point, how you're more likely to get [inaudible] the affirmative's idea about why you're more likely to get diplomatic relations-- improve them by paying ransoms. Supposedly, they talk about how, oh, these diplomatic relations are going to be better if people stop getting kidnapped. I mean, it's still people still being killed, but we understand that states are more likely to cooperate with people, also stop going to be kidnapped.

On [inaudible] the incentives for kidnapping that my first speaker talked about, we're likely to get these continued hostage kidnappings.

Secondly, we have figured out this idea about how, because we have these hostages in their place, they're going to treat these hostages necessarily horrifically. What we understand is that you have an actual incentive not to completely abuse, to completely kill your hostages, because you obviously want to have someone to be done with them. The state that you're engaging in warfare against is not likely to take your claim seriously. It's not likely to reward you these benefits if the hostages that you have in question are massively [inaudible], massively injured, or they're terribly afraid, et cetera.

And they also understand is that the United States, say that the actor [inaudible] also has hostages, and we don't-- you want to so abuse your hostages, because you have something-- they have something that you want to swap, and they will necessarily-- they understand that there is a risk of retaliation. So-- and you don't want your own people to get hurt.

Third thing, on the unique role that hostages have in these terrorist campaigns. So what we understand that the opposition said that they have other avenues for getting money. They pillage villages, et cetera. But the thing is that it is ultimately unsustainable to continue to pillage villages. Not only are you not going to get the immense amount of money, the millions and millions of dollars that you actually need to have a campaign that's so successful against the Russians, the United States, NATO, et cetera, because these villages are tending to be vulnerable. They're likely to be poor. You're not going to get-- extract these necessarily large amounts of money in these villages.

But you also don't want to pillage [inaudible], because they are the territory, they're in the territory that you want to claim. They are all the villages that you want to claim. They're the villages that you want to, presumably would likely take over [inaudible]. You won't want to raze them to the ground, if that's the motive for [inaudible] organisation. But like overtaking the people [inaudible].

But thirdly, when you have to take these alternative routes, like having to pillage these villages, you also have to justify to the audience. You have to justify to people that what you're doing is good, because presumably you want to-- if you want to continue your terrorist campaign, you want to convince the people that, oh, we're doing the right thing. We are fighting against the West. We are the good people in this-- in this side of the conflict, and you're not going to be very successful at doing that if you're also razing the villages that you're trying to convince.

And so we don't think that they're going to get the necessary funds from pillaging these villages. We don't think they are-- we also don't believe that this is the only way that they're going to get this money.

And they also brought this idea of where the hostages will actively-- when we get these hostages from ransoming, we will use them against the-- to help us on-- help the United States on their side of the terrorist campaign. [inaudible] understand that hostages are not likely to be very important or very useful avenues of getting information that's actually useful to use against the terrorists, because terrorists are likely to be-- they're very fearful. So they're very impressionable. They're likely to have been blindfolded during their ordeal. They won't have these kinds of important geographical knowledge to be able to help you.

And they're very biassed. They talk about how hostages can be used to identify voices and stuff. Because they're very impressionable, because they're very afraid, [inaudible] because they're very unlikely to actually know and be able to fully understand-- they're hostages-- they're just going to just be able to recognise every single voice that you give them, we don't think that they're useful because of this.

And lastly under the legitimization of the media, what the terrorists ultimately want is that they want to gain more and more people. They have, right now, they have this somewhat strength in numbers. They have the-- in their hotel, on the high ground, they need to be able to constantly recruit more members to be able to help them.

But the ultimate goal of this idea where you-- it's much easier to use the media for your benefit by having these pictures, it's very difficult to visualise a ransom. It's actually quite easy to visualise a ransom. You show them the riches. You show them the money. You show them your pillagers. And this is the kind of thing that the people you want to recruit want. They're very vulnerable people. They've been displaced by the conflict. They want some kind of security. And for these reasons, we believe that it is-- that we should be so proud to get.


ANTHONY WHITLAM: Well, I'm sure, while the assessment of the debaters is going on, the first thing I would like to say is-- as many of you would-- congratulations to all the debaters on the ways in which you spoke with today on such an interesting topic.

Leanne commented on my late father's interest in always hearing young people's voices on issues, on public issues. And that's true, as we all should be, and [inaudible] are. And of course, you won't be young forever, and eventually--


Some of you may be-- well, you wouldn't yet be 18. You would be able to vote then however you like. I assume you'll be really participating in civic life.

The three topics were very interesting, I thought. You've selected really the most difficult one in some respects. I mean, all of them of course pose terrific moral questions. But had you chosen one or two, it would have been somewhat clearer.

I think what fascinated me, frankly, in listening to you all is the factual scenarios you erected to frame your debate. For instance, just looking at the topic that was given, that you selected, that governments should pay ransoms for citizens who are taken hostage overseas.

So there's a few elements of that. Ransoms assumes cash ransoms. And you assumed that-- the assumption seems to have been made that in these situations overseas, hostages would only be taken by terrorists, so-called, rather than commercial operators and bandits and what have you, which may well also be the situation. And it may be that it was agreed between you you would be focusing on this.

And then, of course, there was an extraordinary focus on the Middle East too, and this landscape of oil wealth somewhere, and oil companies, and villages always; whereas the topic admits of many more scenarios. Now, realise that you can only erect so many and deal with them, and the other ones you've dealt with are the ones that are uppermost in people's minds, particularly, of course, this-- and perhaps it was something that was agreed between you-- this attitude that Americans don't pay ransoms and that Germans do. Well, I'm not sure that that's true. And I'm not sure where it would take us anyway, in terms of dealing with the debate as a matter of principle.

But another element of the topic, of course, which I think you have focused on quite well, was the idea that the person being taken as a hostage was targeted because of their citizenship. And you assumed in that that the-- there's Australia, being our country, was a-- because of the Australian citizenship they were being taken hostage. Of course, there are other scenarios which you can imagine too, where Australians are just, by chance, taken hostage. And what should we do in those circumstances?

And the first speaker on the affirmative side posited the example of journalists, and wanted to put them in a special category. Journalists all want as well, want to be in a special category.


In this situation, may I say, if I'm ever taken hostage, I don't think I should be put it in a better position than me.


Anyway, look. It was a fascinating debate. I'm sure you've given us all a lot to think about. I am not, of course, by occupation or profession, able to assess your debating skills. That will come from the people who are assessing it now. And they'll give you their assessment of who won. Can I congratulate you all, and say that as someone who does make a living, or used to make a living arguing causes, I thought you all did very well. I thought you all behaved [inaudible] a great passion, but also with a great attempt at reasoning as well.

I've been on this occasion here to speak, and to make a presentation-- which I'll be doing later-- on several occasions now. It's always a great pleasure. I must say, I see the Sydney Girls High School here with great regularity.


I first had my association with them when I went to school, across what used to be a fence between us over 60 years ago [inaudible].

WOMAN: No fence now.

ANTHONY WHITLAM: No fence now. And it's all very different. And of course, North Sydney too. It's fascinating to come here.

But in any event, congratulations to all the speakers. I hope it isn't too long before people come back. I don't know why it was thought out I'd have 15 minutes to say on this occasion to you all, except to say that congratulations once more, and very well done.


JUSTIN LAI: We thought we'd spice things up a little bit and have two members of the panel do the adjudication. OK. Here's how this will work. I will be doing general feedback-- and Jerry, my loaded colleague, will be attending-- he will be doing the-- how the debate fell as the panel saw it.

But I would firstly like to say a massive congratulations to both teams. It's kind of easy to see a debate happen before your eyes and say, oh, you know, and they picked the floors, make everything seem like it's just a debate. But this is an extremely high-calibre debate for both sides, who progress [inaudible] of round speakers. So I think another due round of applause is absolutely deserved.


In saying that, no debate's perfect, so I had a couple of points in general feedback.


The first-- and I think probably the biggest-- thing to say is especially to do with characterization. Now both teams really needed a clear vision of, firstly, what the stakeholders in this debate were; and secondly, what they wanted to do. And I think where a lot of this debate became very messy was when both sides kind of charged into their respective cases, but a lot of the time went all over the place, and didn't really step everyone through what the incentives of a particular group were, and how they were either satisfied or not satisfied, to the extent where us as the panel felt that in some instances, it was quite clear there needed to be a lot of deciphering in this debate. So that would be our first general point of feedback.

The second would be specific to examples. So where examples are to be called upon, we would, one, appreciate a specificity to that example-- that is to say that, when such an example is used, you'd understand in its context how it used, how it's applied; but then, kind of to follow that, an explanation of why that example is particularly important, and what that demonstrates.

So that kind of leaves it to general feedback. Again, both teams did a really good job. I'm going to hand over to Jerry to see how the debate went.


JEREMIAH EDAGBAMI: I've been told to keep this short, so I'm going to time myself. So let's be clear with what the teams brought in this debate. And I want to start with the team that brought what they thought could be benefits in this debate, but couldn't necessarily take them to fruition. The negative team starts this debate by saying that there are three things that they can defend against. The first is that there is recruitment that they can defend against when you do not pay these terrorist organisations. That recruitment looks like the inability to radicalise other individuals who might join your cell.

The next that they defend against, or they attempt to defend against, is resourcing these terrorist groups. This again is incredibly important because the imperative in this debate that all teams kind of agree on is trying to not resource these terrorist groups.

The third is legitimization. I want you to all keep those three in mind, because they're incredibly important to deciding how this debate went.

Two questions this panel had in this debate. Obviously, there are more questions in this particular debate, but we're trying to keep this short. So we'll make sure that everything is covered in general feedback.

The first question is which side can combat terrorism the best? There are a few pushes by both teams in this part of this debate. So in terms of being able to fight terrorism, which side could fulfil the principled obligation that states owed to the lives of their citizens?

The affirmative begins with a particularly strong push as to why there is a principle of obligation to these citizens, and that that particular thing is agreed upon by a negative, but they say that there is a far more overwhelming obligation to society at large, as opposed to people in the immediate sense. So the affirmative has two particular ways to defend against this. They, firstly, push against this and say, no, we all have an obligation to those in the immediate. And they secondly say, well, we can also capture those future stakeholders.

So let's firstly begin with them trying to say that non-contingently we ought care about those in the immediate sense. The first thing that they say is that people are owed an obligation by the State because of their reciprocity to the State. That looks like people giving taxes to the State. And that therefore meant that we care-- that we should all care about that individual person.

The third, they say, is that there is a disparity between the rich and poor. The rich can buy their way out of their hostage situation, whereas the poor can not. Therefore, we owe an obligation to those poor people. This was an incredibly persuasive part of their case that we thought that didn't receive an adequate enough response.

The next they say is that, well, friends and family also matter. Those are stakeholders that we all have an obligation to. That was also incredibly important that we also thought probably required a more sufficient response.

So there are two things that come as a result in terms of this principled obligation. Firstly, the affirmative can establish that we do owe an obligation to individuals. But secondly, the negative needs to capture the benefits to broader society en masse, or they need to uniquely capture those benefits to the broader society and weigh that against individuals in the short term.

So in terms of being able to fight terrorism in its general sense, which side could do it better? So, firstly, the negative says that you cannot fight terrorism if you legitimise those terrorists, and that looks like the media being able to showcase those particular-- showcase those terrorists as being particularly strong, and stuff like that. The response we get from the third affirmative is that, well, no, that this is not a harm, given that these particular states, or these particular terrorist cells, are incredibly powerful. We ought to recognise that. We think that this is not necessarily the most persuasive response, but it does call into question the negative's idea that that legitimacy is necessarily bad.

But they do say that legitimacy is bad because it causes recruitment and it emboldens these particular terrorist organisations. There are a few responses. Here were the two that this panel thought were the most persuasive.

Firstly, beheadings and the actions against hostages are a far worse form of propaganda. That looks like beheadings, being visceral, as opposed to saying a headline that says we paid a ransom, I think that this particular piece of analysis probably needed to be stepped out more. But we still thought that to the average and reasonable person, you wouldn't necessarily feel as if there was something a bit more visceral about a beheading that would legitimise the power of a terrorist cell.

The second response that we thought was particularly persuasive was that we need to weigh against the fact that these terrorist cells will find more destructive ways of resourcing themselves, and recruiting, and emboldening themselves. So that looks like pillaging villages. And the third affirmative does a good job at weighing the fact that those stakeholders mattered in this debate, those who lived in villages in these terrorist's occupied lands, although this is a very late characterization. But we still thought it stood because the negative had time to respond.

The second thing that is said in terms of who can fight terrorism is that we resource them. And the negative says that you would give them guns and stuff like that. The affirmative response, by saying, well, they were always going to be resourced. See the fact that they're going to pillage villages and stuff like that. So resources were never necessarily a unique harm in this debate. And the affirmative proves that obviously the obligation to those in the immediate were probably-- it was probably still important.

The third thing that is said is at the affirmative, where they say we can increase diplomacy. This was an incredibly strong piece of material. They say there had been-- the negative said that, no, you're not friends with these individuals. There's no ability for people to come together and meet at the table.

But I think that the affirmative push here is to say that these particular terrorist groups will talk to states in order to meet their mutual interests. And I think that examples could have been used here to illustrate what that looked like, but the reasoning was still there.

The fourth thing that happens in this issue is where the affirmative tells us that information matters, and that the comparative was that people were going to be tortured for information, and we needed to say that information, and only getting the hostages back into Australian custody was going to defend against this.

The fifth thing that is done in this issue is that the negative tells us that they can have a countermodel of hostage swaps. This is firstly a concession, because if you swap the head of a terrorist cell for another hostage, then necessarily you are resourcing that terrorist cell. So at that point, we thought that the negative couldn't necessarily fight terrorism, and they do not fulfil an obligation to those individuals who mattered in the short term. For those reasons, we've decided to award it to the affirmative. Well done.


HANNAH JAMAL: So on behalf of North City Girls, thank you to everyone for coming out today, for watching and supporting, but especially to the affirmative team. You guys were incredible today, and congratulations on your win. It was definitely well-deserved, and we thank you so much.


NOSRAT FAREHA: A member of the winning team, come out.

GRACE LAM: On behalf of Sydney Girls, we just really want to thank the audience for coming out to support us today. Thank you all [inaudible] to North City Girls. This is such a challenging and interesting debate. We felt that you all spoke really well, and you're all really deserving of making it into the finals, and good luck for debating [inaudible].


NOSRAT FAREHA: So from the-- from Sydney Girls High School, we have Amy Wade.

WOMAN: Congratulations. [inaudible]. Sorry.


Yeah, we were organised [inaudible].

LEANNE SMITH: Yes. Congratulations.


WOMAN: Maddy Sloan.


Congratulations [inaudible].

Ally Pitt.


And Grace Lam.


From North Sydney Girls High School, we have--

MAN: [inaudible] coach, again.

WOMAN: I'm sorry. The coach. My bad. And we--

[interposing voices]


WOMAN: From North Sydney Girls High School, Katie Kim.


Aalia Syed.


Chanel Kim.


Hannah Jamal.


And coordinator, Mandy Webb.


WOMAN: [inaudible]

NOSRAT FAREHA: Thank you, Ms. [inaudible].

I will now call on the honourable Anthony Whitlam, QC, to present the EG Whitlam trophy for the best speaker in today's [inaudible].


ANTHONY WHITLAM: A shiny new one. It says Madeleine in the programme-- Madeleine Sloan.


WOMAN: Woo-hoo!

[cheers and applause]

[laughter and applause]

[cheers and applause]

End of transcript