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NSW Premier’s Debating Challenge 2021 - Years 11 and 12 State Final
JUSTINE CLARKE: Good morning, and welcome to the 2021 State Final of the Premier's Debating Challenge for Years 11 and 12 for the Hume Barbour trophy. My name is Justine Clarke, and I'm the Speaking Competition's Officer for the New South Wales Department of Education.
Before we begin, I'd like to acknowledge the Darug and Gundungurra people who are the traditional custodians of the land from which I'm speaking to you from today, and I'd like to extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people here today. Because we're all speaking from different places today, we've invited a spokesperson from each team just to unmute and acknowledge the traditional owners of the land from which they're speaking today.
JOSEPHINE PERRY: So for our team, we wanted to just start today by acknowledging the Gadigal and Darug people which, for our team, are the traditional custodians of the land on which we are meeting today. And we also wanted to pay our respects to their Elders both past and present as well as emerging and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people here today.
PETRIS SIVILLS: And for the Smiths Hill team, I'd like to acknowledge the Wodiwodi people and the Dharawal nation, the traditional custodians of the land on which my team members and I are here today and extend our respect to Elders past, present, and emerging.
JUSTINE CLARKE: Our two finalists today are Smiths Hill High School and Sydney Girls High School. Smiths Hill are the current title holders of this competition from 2019, but Sydney Girls High School the current title holders of last year's Year 11 competition because we didn't hold this particular competition. So we have-- the interesting consequence today is that we seem to have two title holders. So I think it'll be a really interesting debate between these two fantastic teams who have a tradition of winning this competition.
The affirmative team is from Smiths Hill, and their speakers are Maurice Lam, Gabriel Kennedy, Aimee Bulliman, and Petris Sivills, who we've just heard from. Their coach is Kerry Doyle. The negative team is from Sydney Girls Hi School and their speakers are Ariane Varnava, Anna Kremer, Neva Mikulic, and Josephine Perry. Their coach is Tran Nguyen.
The adjudicators for this State Final are Jeremiah Edagbami, Maja Vasic, and Alex de Araujo. Jeremiah is a very successful university debater and adjudicator and one of our most experienced adjudicators at the Arts Unit. This year, he was a Worlds University adjudicator. So we thank him for lending that experience to us.
Alex is also a former winner of this challenge. So he knows what you're going through. He won this with his team, Sydney Boys High School, in 2018. He's also a combined high schools debater and a very experienced debater himself.
Maja was a primary schools debating champion and also went on to high school to have a very successful debating career, including being a combined high schools representative as well. So thank you, all three of you.
The topic for the debate is that employers should be able to fire unvaccinated employees. Please welcome the first speaker for the affirmative to begin the debate.
MAURICE LAM: Ladies and gentlemen, the world's responses to COVID-19 and its harms have been lagging and ineffective. We have seen waves come one after the other after the countries that are hailed as success stories are devastated by variants that come due to ignorance and complacency. The only way that we can minimise the effect of future variants and be able to come out of lockdowns with strong recoveries is through vaccination.
However, current systems of vaccination have been delayed and confusing. And by implementing a clear criteria of who is required to vaccinate and incentivising their main lifeline, we compelled those who are hesitant or those who are doubting the necessity of the vaccine to get vaccinated and to move our society forward.
So, under this side of the house, we will allow all employers in Australia the ability to dismiss employees on the ground that they are vaccinated. They will see this through two methods-- either that the employee cannot offer a proof of vaccination or the employee cannot offer proof of a vaccination booking. And that comes in the imminent future.
In the case for medically-exempt people-- for those who are immunocompromised-- we'll allow them to continue working from home instead of being dismissed until the time arrives, when and if Australia reaches 95% vaccinated-- which we see as herd immunity. Now, if there are medically-exempt people working in essential services-- which we think is unlikely because they'll be putting themselves at extreme risk by doing so-- we'll allow them to receive redundancy payments and support their transition to a role that involves no client contact until, of course, we reach herd immunity.
So in today's debate, I'll be talking about how this will be incentivising vaccination and how there's a principle obligation for employers to protect their workforces. And my second speaker will be talking about the practical economic benefit. So, onto my substantive. So today, I'll show that our model will incentivise vaccination and increase vaccination rates. So by enforcing our model, we are accelerating vaccination rates that cannot be replicated with other mechanisms such as financial incentives and due to the fact that by incentivising sources of income, people are put in more advantageous positions to motivate themselves to get the vaccines.
All right, so why do we think this will happen? Well, first of all, we think that if we look at employers, right-- those employers who are at risk of most contacts-- so those in retail, those in services-- are more likely to require vaccinations from their employees of risk.
All right, we also see that customers are also more likely to be able to kind of be confident that they're going to employers that are vaccinated. And we also see that jobless people have an incentive to go get vaccinated because they can take the jobs of those who are ignorant and don't get the vaccine. So we think that we see in a world where our model is implemented that there are multiple parties that are incentivised to go get vaccines due to the hanging underline that there is a risk of them getting fired.
So why do we think that employers are likely to adopt our model? We see that the government said that once we get to 80% vaccinated, non-vaccinated people can only leave their homes for essential reasons such as to work unless the employers are part of an industry that is essential and that they cannot have employers report to work in person.
Secondly, employers prefer having people work in office rather than from home so that they can are some better and better facilitate communication. So therefore, employers in nonessential industries are likely to institute this as well. We see that essential businesses that often have a lot of transmission, such as health care, such as construction, are also going to implement this so then they're more likely to have this to have customers and clients feel safer.
So why do we think employers adopting our model is going to get the vaccine-hesitant, which is the main stakeholder that we are trying to access today to get this vaccine? Well, first of all, we think that for future employees there are four main reasons that they're going to do this.
Well, first of all, they're more likely to listen to their employers because the government pressure of get the vaccine every day at 11:00 o'clock, them telling us to get the vaccine, has not been effective because there are little effects that the government can actually mandate. They're not going to send the police kicking down every door just to make sure you get the vaccine. So there's no actual real effect of the government repeating this line. However, by incentivising them through jobs, we're hitting their bottom line and we have leverage on them that cannot be replicated through just telling them every day at 11:00 o'clock.
And we also think that those who are sceptical now have a reason to get vaccinated. We think these sceptics are people who are hesitant due to believing it's, like, experimental and thinking it's too early. So we think that by accessing the bottom line, they're all compelled to get outside of their beliefs because they don't want to be unemployed. They can hate the vaccine all they want, but they can't do it if they're homeless on the street without just screaming that the vaccine is bad. So they're more likely to get the vaccine through this.
And we think that those who just generally-- number 3-- those who are deniers have a monetary reason to go get vaccinated, like I said earlier. But we also think that-- just a fourth point just to address a kind of minor stakeholder-- and we just want to address that we do concede that there are people who will just refuse to get the vaccine no matter what. We think that this is a very small minority.
We think that those who are so adamant about getting the vaccine probably are not going to be affected by this because we think that employers can just remove them from their positions and we think that people who are jobless who are incentivised to go get the vaccine are more likely to replace these people. We think that all the benefits of having more vaccination is going to come under our model because these people will get removed.
So why do we think that an increase in vaccination will lead to less cases and less deaths? We think that herd immunity is only achieved at 95% of full vaccination, and even right now, even with the organic change, the organic kind of vaccination rates, we're getting deaths of, like, 12 deaths a day yesterday, and we're getting thousands of cases every day. We think that the natural, organic method of having vaccines is not effective enough.
We think that at the end of the day, under our argument today, the incentives have changed for all parties at which we think will lead to more vaccination rates because we think that society is orientated around having these private businesses being affected. Employees will have their bottom line at risk, employers will want more business, and customers will be more confident in these close-contact industries.
OK, so moving on to my second point, why our model principally allows employers to act to protect the employees. We think that employers have an obligation to protect their employees and their customers. And we think that it is principally immoral to force employers to hire someone who refused to be vaccinated against COVID.
So why do we think this? Well, first we think employers who are forcing this policy are also protecting their own reputations and their own employees for three reasons. We think that, having examples such as health care, we think that health care providers should be able to discriminate against those who are unvaccinated because they shouldn't need to employ people who are putting patients, who are putting people who are compromised at risk.
Number 2, we think that a vaccinated workplace lessens the chance of employees becoming infected and becoming isolated, which we think this, by effect, reduces the effectiveness of the workforce. Having people need to go through quarantine every single day or need to get tests every day or need to do all these processes when they could just get vaccinated, they can just, in the long-term, reduce the effects.
Number 3, we think that people won't want to work at a place that is known for their COVID ignorance. We think that people don't want to work at a place that can possibly give them or their friends and family COVID. We think that just in general, employers are more likely to be conscious of this, more likely to have a workplace that wants to institute this.
And at the end of the day, we think that employers-- point number 4-- want to have a consistently present workforce. People who are moving in and out of quarantine, moving out of home are not going to be productive. Employers don't like that, they're profit-based.
Employers are also private entities. We see that workplaces are public spaces, and by protecting those who are resistant to the idea of getting the vaccine, we are endangering those in greater society. We need these people to get vaccinated so we can move our society forward, and by having employers institute this policy, this is the only way that they themselves can get a benefit as well as greater society. So at the end of the day, on our side of the house, we can prove that by accelerating vaccination rates through a compelling reason, we are able to move out of COVID and lockdowns. I'm proud to affirm.
ARIANE VARNAVA: The opposition's entire case is contingent on the fact that they can actually get more people vaccinated, but they fail to actually characterise these groups properly, completely overestimating the amount of people who are just hesitant about getting the vaccine and completely disregarding the large proportion of minority groups who feel disenfranchised by the medical system or haven't had access to the vaccine and, for these reasons, are unlikely to get vaccinated in the near future or won't ever get it. But it will increase the rhetoric towards them leaving their mental health bad and the exact same amount of people vaccinated.
So in the speech, I'm going to do two things. Firstly, I'm just going to contest their characterisation about why this incentive actually won't work because I'll talk about the people who get vaccinated and people who don't get vaccinated and why they'll remain unvaccinated. And secondly, I'll talk about the active harm to these groups of people who don't want to get vaccinated under their model and why this is just not worth even a small proportion of increase.
Also, we'd just like to point out, for a team that wants to characterise the issue as the government's slow rollout and nothing else, we think it's pretty ironic that they place the burden on individuals who haven't had a chance to get vaccinated right now, particularly minorities in some rural communities, to take on this burden and potentially lose their job to this. We think that you can achieve herd immunity, which is the end goal, without forcing anyone to do this by a financial disincentive.
So moving on to why this incentive won't work and why it's not necessary, firstly, we think that the affirmative have largely overestimated the volume of people who are unvaccinated and the reasons why. But why? Because we already think there's a large incentive to get vaccinated, and we think there's 5 reasons for this.
Firstly, we think that people just have self-preservation instincts and genuinely don't want to die. Secondly, we think people want to move out of lockdown and get back to normal life. Thirdly, we think there's already tonnes of incentives-- things like vaccination passports-- for people who want to travel, we'd be happy to increase more soft incentives like these. Fourthly, we think that Australia already has a history of very high vaccination rates, so we're looking at things like 95% for chickenpox and measles, et cetera. So we think there's actually not a bunch of anti-vax rhetoric in Australia. And 5, we just think there's a lot of stigma towards unvaccinated people.
So we think that even without their model, as long as the vaccines are available, we think we're going to move towards herd immunity pretty quickly. And their model isn't going to speed it up because we're literally getting people vaccinated as fast as we can. We are using all the doses we have to their full capacity. The biggest problem is a shortage of vaccines, not a large proportion of people who don't want to get vaccinated.
So who are these people who aren't vaccinated? And we note that this is an extremely small amount. We have 6 groups of this. Firstly, we think that there are people who are on the political extremes and are very anti-vax. But we also think there's religious groups, secondly; thirdly, people who are immunocompromised; fourthly, people who just haven't had access to booking a vaccine appointment; fifthy, some people who are hesitant; and sixthly, people who are cultural minorities.
So why do we think it doesn't matter if these people are not vaccinated? Because, as, we've already said, we think that herd immunity is able to be achieved because herd immunity has been achieved for other illnesses where these people haven't been vaccinated. So for example, Jehovah's Witnesses haven't been vaccinated against measles, but we've still got herd immunity for measles because that's such a small portion of people.
And at the end of this, we think we're weighing up the fact that even if they can get some small benefit of some vaccine-hesitant people, we're just actually not getting a lot more people vaccinated. So the harms I'm about to bring you to each of these groups are really, really important.
So we've made this clear, we're dealing with a very small group of people. But let's look at each stakeholder individually. So firstly, we'll deal with the anti-vax people.
So why aren't they going to get vaccinated? Firstly, we think these people are likely surrounding themselves with very right-wing media, they're probably very anti-science, they're probably anti-government, they likely have more extreme views that are very entrenched. And because we think that they're countercultural views sometimes, they're unlikely to listen to any financial incentive.
So what happens to this group? Firstly, we think we just further alienate them by the government literally imposing a law that means they can lose their job for a belief they hold, which is like the one thing they don't want to happen because for these people, they think being anti-vax is a political view.
Secondly, when they lose their job, in their eyes, they're literally losing their bodily autonomy. So their views just become a lot more stronger. And therefore, not only do they not get vaccinated, it reinforces their views about the government. They are likely to get more vocal about their views. They're likely to protest more-- which, note, is actually really harmful because these people aren't vaccinated, so we're likely to increase transmission there. But they're more likely to try and actively convince people of the merit of their beliefs.
We also think that these people are the people most likely to lie about getting vaccinated. We've already seen in America a black market for proof of vaccination cards which are fake. So we think that we would prefer transparency and for them to just tell them so that companies can put them in positions where they have less contact with clientele.
But at the end of this, we just think that the rhetoric of the populist movement is way larger, it disrupts productive discourse, and they're also more likely to move to less progressive workplaces where this isn't a law that's enforced. And therefore, we think that would just get clusters of groups of people who are very anti-science, and we think this is really harmful.
So moving on to my next group, which is about religious groups. So why aren't they vaccinated? Firstly, we just think religion is really important to them and they're going to listen to it because they grew up with it. It literally defines their life and their family and friends are probably from it. Especially with minority religions like Jehovah's Witnesses, because it's such a small religion, it is really important-- that community-- to them.
And for these people, vaccination is literally a sin. They view it as something that can send them to hell. And we just think it is a massive violation of rights to say you have to choose between having your job and going to hell. And we also think because they are risking a lifetime in hell, they are just never going to get vaccinated.
So what is the active harm to these groups other than the fact that they're literally going to lose their job and their livelihood and they have to look for another job? We also think it increases the rhetoric towards these groups that they're actively harmful because they're willing to lose their job to not get vaccinated. And we also just think, as we said, it's a violation of their right to hold a religious belief. So we think it's really actively harmful.
Moving on to minority cultural groups now. So who are we talking about? We're talking about historical communities that have been treated extremely poorly by the medical system. So for example, people of colour are far more likely to have been exposed to medical racism throughout their life. So this takes form from things of physicians not believing their pain, much higher rates of being prescribed the wrong drugs, and historically worse health outcomes because of less accessibility. So example-- indigenous communities.
Also, for example, black communities who feel super disenfranchised because of literal experiments like Tuskegee who just don't want to have to engage with another vaccine that they feel doesn't have enough research. So these people have a lot less faith in the system and don't want to get vaccinated.
Firstly, it's just not these people's responsibility to pick up the government's failure of providing them adequate and accessible health care. Secondly, this model further disenfranchises that because they now believe that they have to lose their job because people aren't going to respect and never understand what they go through when they have to book this vaccine appointment.
But you also just think it's terrible for their mental health because they're again being forced to engage in a medical thing they don't want to do and they don't feel comfortable with. And we just think that most employers will fire them, not understanding the true experience of what they're going through.
And we also think this is really harmful because we think it increases racist rhetoric towards these groups by highlighting how these groups don't want to get vaccinated. But we also think it's like harmful because the anti-vax movement is very likely going to try and capitalise on these communities and bring them over to the further right countercultural movement, which is really harmful to the progressive movement because historically, people of colour have been very important to the progressive movement.
So it's also just a lot harder to find a new job where they won't experience racism as a cultural minority. So it's just really harmful to this group and increases stigma about them.
So moving on to the next group, which is people who are immunocompromised. They did make an allowance for this, but note it was-- we just think that people's health record is no one's business and something they shouldn't have to disclose. We think that lots of people have stigmatised illnesses they don't want to tell their employers-- so for example, STIs or HIV or chronic illnesses.
By telling your employee that you have one of these things and that's the reason why you're not vaccinated, you're opening up yourself to discrimination, even if it's just for a short period of time that you can't get vaccinated while you recover from glandular fever. We just think that, in Australia, we've always said that your health records should be private, so we just think that it's really harmful that people have to give up that right for something they're OK with doing in being unvaccinated.
And finally, we think that's just people who are vaccine-hestitant. And even if they do get vaccinated in this group of people, we just think it is not worth it at all because we've just risked the mental health of the cultural and racial and religious minorities, we've increased destructive discourse, and for these reasons, I'm proud to affirm.
GABRIEL KENNEDY: Ladies and gentlemen, today we have nothing to fear but fear itself from an opposition that excuses vaccine-hesitancy as a form of discrimination and business uncertainty that allows the bodies to pile up in the morgue and the queues outside Centrelink to stay longer. Their team says that stigmatising those who haven't gotten vaccinated will lead to a bunch of mental health issues and et cetera, but we think that stigmatising those who don't get vaccinated is what will precisely lead to all of the benefits we have outlined with our first speaker.
Another rebuttal they have given is that we have vastly overestimated those who haven't been vaccinated. Now, of course, they aren't the majority of people-- the majority of people haven't got vaccinated. But we are focusing on the problem here, which is those who haven't been vaccinated and haven't even booked.
So for example, let's say our Western Sydney parents and households who are hesitant until they see all the signs were due to poor political messaging. That would be a good example, or politically conservative or denialists who distrust the government. But these kinds of people are exactly the ones who are going to go out and get vaccinated if they could risk losing their employment and they could risk loss in income.
They wouldn't distrust the science if their employers are able to sack them, which is completely different messaging from the government forcing people to go get vaccinated because this isn't about messaging at all. It's just business reality and people wanting to make a profit. And because of that, people are going to understand that they need to get vaccinated in order to please their employer, who they have personal relationships with. This isn't some impersonal government coming down and imposing laws upon everyone that scare them to death. This is just people being able to decide with their money that they're not going to hire people who are not vaccinated.
Furthermore, they've said that soft incentives and other measures are OK, such as vaccine passports. Now, we think this doesn't have the exact same benefit as under our model because, as I will speak in my substantive, those who are most likely to get vaccinated and those employers who are most likely to encourage vaccination are exactly those in places with the most contacts.
So stuff like vaccine passports, those may be blanket incentives that make people want to get vaccinated, and that's not mutually exclusive. We could have them under our side as well. But under our side, those who will get vaccinated first will be those in the industries with the most contacts because businesses will lose customers in those industries with lots of contacts because lots of people could get infected. And I'll talk about that more in my substantive. So this is actually better in terms of who it targets because it targets those who have the most contacts and could create the most infections.
Furthermore, they've talked about minorities being disenfranchised and religion. Now, we think that this is somewhat nonsense because the major problem with vaccines for religious people are the use of foetuses in vaccines. These are not used in COVID-19 vaccines, so their hesitancy comes from misinformation on the making of COVID-19 vaccines. It has nothing to do with the religion of the people, including Jehovah's Witnesses. And we think this is a mischaracterisation, and we are not supporting that it's OK to demonise Jehovah's Witnesses.
Furthermore, they have talked about how minorities don't really need to get vaccinated and we'll still have herd immunity. We think this is somewhat nonsense, especially seeing as we're talking about the Western Sydney people and those kinds of people who are just hesitant to book in the first place. Those kinds of people, when they see that they could get sacked, well, they're obviously going to go out and book.
Furthermore, they've talked about this being a massive violation of rights. Now, we think this is nonsense. It is a massive violation of the rights of those who are contributing to superannuation and the workers across the country who have invested their capital in superannuation to be forced to employ their money on people who are unwilling to get vaccinated and will increase the number of deaths in this country just due to their selfishness.
Furthermore, they talked about this increasing racist rhetoric. We think this is extremely questionable, especially seeing as indigenous communities want to get access and they are most likely to get vaccinated, especially because they are low-income and want to get vaccinated in order to be able to work.
And furthermore, your health records should be private-- we think this is just a nonsense point as well because it doesn't matter what your rights are, really. It's about what maximises the total utility to society and the outcomes in the end, not about magical rights. Furthermore, herd immunity without vaccine-hesitancy-- oh, sorry, we've gone over that.
So now I'll move on to my substantive. So we think that under our system, we will have a faster economic recovery as well. Now, our model will lead to a faster economic recovery than otherwise because the economic effect of our model will be two-fold and occur through a uniform change in expectations. Businesses will both have more capability due to an increased workforce that is vaccinated and willingness to reopen and invest, and investors will have more confidence to shop.
So let's start with how this will increase investment and business confidence. Employees have a vested interest in encouraging their employees to get vaccinated. Unvaccinated employees, especially in industries with many contacts such as food service, aged care, construction, and delivery are potential liability to businesses, firstly because they could cause the redundancy of part of the business' human resources and operations for several weeks due to potential infections and secondly because they damage the reputation of the business and erode the customer base because customers are scared of infections from that venue.
For example, if a local KFC or restaurant is the site of cases, people quickly avoid going there, and we've seen this throughout the pandemic. Hell, even the mere possibility that this could be the case, as early in the pandemic with Chinatown, is the cause for people to see a massive drop-off in their willingness to spend in that area. So even just the potential for that to be the case decreases confidence considerably.
Furthermore, as my first speaker said, unvaccinated employees and current job seekers who are hesitant to get vaccinated, since they are competing for hours and want jobs to pay their mortgages and get back to their normal lives, will immediately want to go out and book vaccinations. They won't sit around waiting for more data or want more convincing or messaging, they will go out and get vaccinated and book to get vaccinated as soon as possible precisely because we think people care most about where their next meal will come from and the pay in their pockets.
For example, over 60s have had months to get vaccinated but haven't because of their hesitancy precisely because there's no financial incentive for them to go out and get vaccinated. And we say the vast majority of cases in those under 40 who are working, so we think of getting them vaccinated is most important because they are the ones who spread it-- like the educated workers-- to the age. And so giving them this financial incentive of the potential to get sacked is going to make them go out and get vaccinated.
Furthermore, essentially, employers now able to sack the unvaccinated and hire the vaccinated in their place such as job seekers who are now incentivised to go out and get vaccinated don't have to worry that reopening or continuing with their investment plans could lead to unwanted infections. Hence, they will reopen and begin operations, now with plenty of employees who have gotten vaccinated because they fear getting sacked.
Furthermore, now that consumers-- especially shoppers in retail and service industries-- feel confident that businesses will have unvaccinated employees, they will more willing to shop and spend their money. The recovery especially accrues to the service sector, where the hit to employment has been the hardest because this is the place where there is, of course, the most contact.
Hence, businesses and consumers alike will be willing to spend more on products, paying wages, reopening, making inventory purchases, and shopping in public with the belief that businesses and the unemployed will be vaccinated, especially as particular businesses such as shopping malls are incentivised to market to their customers that all of their employees are vaccinated. So we see an alignment of expectations and interests between employees, between businesses, and between job seekers, which means that they are going to go out and get vaccinated and be more willing to spend money and invest.
So essentially, in terms of impacting, we will have increased spending relative to the status quo, which will raise incomes and employment as the 11% rate of saving is mostly due to precautionary withdrawal of spending-- so businesses cutting back on spending and individuals being unwilling to shop, go out, and buy service sector goods and services. And we think this will fall now that people are confident that they aren't going to get infections when they go out and shop and that they aren't going to get infections when they reopen their operations.
And if they fear that some of their employees could, they can just sack the unvaccinated employee, replace them with a vaccinated job seeker, and we think that is a good thing in the short-term because we're going to have more net jobs under our model than under the opposition because more people will be employed due to higher spending in total. And that means less mental health issues, unlike what the other opposition is saying; higher incomes; more goods and services provided; and a higher quality of life as people are able to move around in public and enjoy their normal activities.
So summary-- this is how we win on net balance. More people will be vaccinated in the short- and long-term. This means less deaths from infection, the most important part of this pandemic. Furthermore, those most likely to next get vaccinated would be those working in industries with the most contacts, meaning the most reduction in deaths possible. Now, this is something which the other methods do not get.
Furthermore, there will be higher job creation and employment relative to the status quo of slower vaccination and business uncertainty due to increased business and consumer confidence with the expectation that employees will be vaccinated and that it is safe to shop. So we have better health outcomes, less deaths, higher standards of living in comparison to a status quo which excuses excess deaths and enables hesitancy to continue, and that is why we are proud to affirm.
ANNA KREMER: It's not good enough to try and tell us that people just don't want to get vaccinated when it is so clear that people do, when there are so many incentives that we've given you, and when none of them have been responded to by the opposition. Literally the only thing stopping people from getting vaccinated is a lack of vaccinations in the country, shown by the fact that literally every school-aged student is now getting a vaccination. Pretty much everyone who can is getting vaccinated in the status quo. If you ignore our mechanisms, you're not engaging with our case in any meaningful way.
I'm going to quickly talk about three things in the speech. Firstly on what vaccination actually looks like in our country. And we're going to challenge the characterisation that still has not really-- we haven't really gotten a response to all the material we've brought out before. Secondly, we're going to talk about all these stakeholders who are affected by this. Again, you cannot simply just dismiss all of our stuff as being ridiculous without actually engaging with it, and we'll get into why. All of these things still stand because we haven't got a response, and it is so important. And thirdly on more miscellaneous points where I'll bring up some substantives as well.
Firstly, let's talk about whether or not people are actually going to get vaccinated in the first place and why what the opposition was telling us just wasn't very compelling in the first place. We told you that there were so many reasons why people had incentives that just meant that a lot of people were going to anyway. We told you that people just have basic self-preservation as an instinct. That is very unlikely to drive them. We think that most people believe in the science.
We think that, thirdly, most people just want to return to normal life. That is a very large incentive. And a lot of people who are hesitant, it pushes them over. They want to talk about these groups who are currently hesitant and don't have a reason to when we give you direct reasons as to why they actually want to have these reasons to get vaccinated.
We told you that Australia historically has a high vaccination rate. This doesn't get responded to. That means we think it's likely to be the same thing in this case as well. And we also told you that just largely, people just want things to return to normal, and this is going to be a very convincing way to get them to get vaccinated in the first place.
This is reflected in the fact that pretty much everyone is being vaccinated. We're using up all of our resources. That clearly is the only thing limiting us, so it's not good enough to tell us that people don't want to get vaccinated.
But even if we accept that there are people who are sceptical and this is a relatively large amount of the population, why is what they're saying still not going to be very effective for changing their minds? They tell us that basically having your personal employer hold the threat over your head of sacking you is going to be more effective than a faceless government telling you that you should get vaccinated.
We think if anything, that is like far more likely to drive tentative people into a much more extreme kind of avenue because it is someone who you felt was close to you, had an affinity to, it's not just a faceless government. You can see all of the direct ramifications of this type of regulation affecting your very personal life as well as your income. That was something that was likely if you were hesitant, as the opposition wants to characterise, to drive you into all of these avenues that we talked about. If anything, you just grow the group of anti-vaxxers that we talked about. And that's a great thing for our side because it just means it gets far, far worse.
But we also told you-- when they want to bring up the example of Western Sydney families who just aren't getting vaccinated, as soon as vaccinations became available to all of those LGAs, we're having extremely high vaccination rates there. That was just categorically untrue, and we thought it was unfair to characterise them as such because they were getting vaccinated.
And also note here that all of these soft incentives we provide are also pretty compelling reasons to want to get vaccinated, and they operate regardless of whether or not you have this kind of financial incentive. So when they talk about how those are symmetric either side, yes, we've got that, too. But you've also got massive harms that we wanted to point you to that we didn't get responses to.
So we think firstly, it is very unlikely you have a large proportion of people who are going to be hesitant about the vaccine in the first place. We've given you reasons as to why that's true. We think it's going to be a very, very small amount of people who are going to not want to get vaccinated or be hesitant. But if you are going to be hesitant, we think all of the incentives we have provided and pointed you to are going to be sufficient enough to get people to get vaccinated, and we see that happening in the status quo.
So we think at the end of this point, it is very, very likely that we're going to be dealing with a small number of people who are going to be hesitant to get vaccinated. And that was so important because it meant regardless of what they want to say about 3 people now not wanting to get vaccinated more, we have massive personal harms and massive harms to minority and ethnic groups with a very negligible change in public health and those outcomes. So if you weigh those two things up, we think it is far more important to actually prioritise such massive and personal attacks on these groups of people when you clearly were not getting that big of a change in our public health outcomes in how this was actually going because we think we are on a pretty good trajectory already ready for that.
So let's talk about all the minority groups and all the specific stakeholders that we brought you that we've gotten pretty much no response to. We tell you that there are so many religious and ethnic groups to whom vaccination is an egregious thought. For some people like Jehovah's Witnesses, it was not true that-- it was just untrue that they were not getting vaccinated because of baby foetuses. They had an aversion to vaccinations generally.
We thought that when you were having to weigh up between like losing your job and going to hell, we think there is no choice for you there. It is extremely unfair to force someone to make that kind of decision, and it's extremely harmful to make for someone to make that kind of decision. For someone for whom religion is an extremely central part of their life, that is going to be an extremely large and a very horrible thing to force them to even think about.
We also, secondly, talked about all of these minorities for whom you are now forcing the responsibility of getting vaccinated and fixing the government's failures. This was not responded to. We thought this was extremely unfair to do in the first place. But we also gave you all of these reasons as to why it was so harmful for these people to do it in the first place.
We told you employers not being able to understand why you didn't want to get vaccinated and you having to explain that to people who will never understand, it was just an onerous task that you should not have to be forced to go through in the first place. But we also told you that people who have had problems with this system in the first place just don't want to try and revisit it in the first place or try to revisit it now and have to deal with people who clearly just would never understand or had wronged them in the past.
But thirdly, we brought you the case of immunocompromised people who, note, if you're going to make an exception for them, they have to provide all of this extremely personal information to their employers or the government. That was just something that we never thought was worth doing, especially when you consider that a lot of those diseases would be stigmatised. If you have to tell your employees that you have HIV/AIDS, that was an extremely personal piece of information that you had to give them. And we did not think it was worth-- we'd much rather protect their privacy on that front.
So at the end of this point, we've proven that there is extreme harm to these groups of people. We've proven to you that you're going to get relatively negligible change in public health outcomes and the relative amounts of people being vaccinated on either side of this house. So already at this point, we've proven to you that there is a massive net harm to the opposition with very, very little change in whether or not people are actually getting vaccinated.
So onto the last two points on economic recovery and also the principle obligation that the opposition wants to bring to us. We basically hear that businesses have an incentive to return to normal, and now that more people are vaccinated, it's going to be extremely good for them, and this is good for the economy. This is all contingent on there being an extreme disparity between our two sides in this debate and one getting a lot more vaccinated and the other not, so this pretty much already falls out of the debate.
And so note, then, that we get all of the benefits they want to talk about. Again, if we respond to their principle obligation to protect people, this occurs regardless of which side of the debate you are on. This principle comes into effect when you're actually getting benefits for people. We think, if anything, it's far more important to protect-- you're actively not protecting the minority groups that we're talking about. If you actually drive more people into going to lockdown protests for all the mechanisms we've given you, we think that actively works against this principle that they want to talk about. So we still win on their own grounds.
At the end of the speech, it is very clear that you're not going to get large-scale changes in public health outcomes. We think that we are already on a very good trajectory towards herd immunity, and that's showing every day by increasing numbers of vaccinations. We think, though, you get massive, massive harms to the groups that we have outlined on the side of the opposition. That was not something that was ever worth holding in the ballot, so we think it was so, so important to protect them. So proud to negate.
AIMEE BULLIMAN: Great. So there were four main issues with the negative team's case today that are why they are going to lose. The first issue is that they failed to acknowledge that if you refuse to protect the people around you, if you refuse to protect your community, you are automatically undeserving of a guaranteed job and you do not get special rights because you are uncaring about the people in your community and inherently selfish.
The second thing that the negative team fails to realise is that they can only acknowledge vaccine hesitancy on the part of minorities. They refuse to acknowledge that the absolutely overwhelming majority of vaccine sceptics were not underprivileged indigenous communities as they tried to tell you, but rather mums in Bondi and Byron who thought they were above the law. We had seen thousands of people protesting across Australia in Mullumbimby to the CBD because they did not want to get the vaccine. They fail to account for vaccine hesitancy being a thing that exists in the Australian population. I will talk about that later.
The third thing is that they forget that COVID vaccine hesitancy affects the whole community, not just individuals in minority groups. And the fourth thing that they failed to realise that is even if all of the harms to minority groups that they have said are true-- which I'm going to prove to you that they're not-- but even if every single harm that they proved to minorities were true, the number of people in Australia-- the elderly, the immunocompromised, children who could not get vaccinated-- the number of those people who would die alone and afraid of COVID-19 due to vaccine hesitancy, due to breakthrough cases was always going to be higher than that number of minority groups.
So I have three main things today. So one, which side best incentivises vaccinations and therefore protects people's lives? The second thing was which side provides a better economic recovery to the Australian economy? And then the third thing in this debate, which I felt was the most contingent for the negative team, was the issue of minorities and whether or not they were harmed or benefited by our model.
First, I'm going to start with incentivising vaccinations because I think that's where all of the benefits kind of come from on our side. We tell you from first that we need to increase vaccination rates until we get to 95% when we will have herd immunity because otherwise, people will needlessly die. It is so important to get to that 95%. Even though the government is saying that we only need 80% of our adult population vaccinated, that is a huge number of people that are unprotected from COVID.
We have known for decades that 95% is the number that we need to reach, otherwise there will be breakthrough cases. And even though the negative team tries to tell you that vaccine hesitancy isn't a real thing, we have such a high vaccination rate, there are going to be breakthrough cases. You do not see 5,000 people protesting in the Sydney CBD when you have 95% of your population who is totally down and cool with vaccines.
We think the best way to incentivise Australia to get up to 95% vaccinated is an economic incentive. We think at the point where saying, you can't leave your house to do non-essential things if you're not vaccinated, you can't travel if you're not vaccinated, at the point where that isn't enough-- which we've already shown that it isn't because we have all these protests, we don't have enough vaccination going on-- we need to use economic force. And that economic force is saying you do not get to have a job if you are insensitive to people's lives and are willing for them to die because you refuse to get vaccinated.
We think that this is particularly convincing as an economic argument because we think a lot of people are hesitant who cannot be convinced by government or doctors but are likely to have a rapport with their boss or their manager or whatever. And we think this is more relevant to essential industries than non-essential industries because they'll be working from home anyway. It doesn't really matter.
So why do we think the majority of businesses are going to adopt this, and why do we think this is going to all roll out? We think that organic change is not enough. We think that we see this when over 60s and over 50s are still not even at 80% fully vaccinated even though they've had access to the COVID vaccine since last November. So it's been almost a year and people are still hesitant to get vaccinated.
And the negative team cannot respond to that because all they can tell us is that there's organic change and we already have a really high vaccination rate in Australia for things like measles even though we've done decades and decades of measles vaccinations. Measles vaccinations are not the same as COVID vaccinations. The concerns that people have for that are different.
People's concerns for COVID vaccinations is that the vaccine is new, it's not researched enough, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And we need the incentive to be an economic incentive that is so strong that it overpowers all of their fears to not get this vaccine.
We also told you that people have a principle obligation to allow employees to act to protect themselves and their workforce by mandating vaccination. We think it protects employers' reputations, we think it leads to a better economic recovery in Australia, we think it protects workers' safety as it is the responsibility of employers, and we think if you are unwilling-- as I've already said-- to protect other people by getting the jab, you do not deserve the job principally.
So moving on to the point of minorities now that I've already covered all of that stuff. So the negative team tells you that people won't get vaccinated-- like minority groups won't get vaccinated, but that doesn't matter because they're not a big enough group. And then they proceed to try and list a bunch of groups that they don't really name specifically, but they make it out as if this is a massive harm.
So this means either 2 things-- either the number of minorities is so high that if they don't all get vaccinated, then that will actually signal a massive harm, or the number of minorities is so low that it doesn't actually like constitute a huge harm on our side of the house. So why will we get more minorities vaccinated?
We think due to the marginalisation that the negative team acknowledges against people like ATSI people, like First Nations, Australians, people like-- I don't know-- low SES people or whatever, people like-- I don't even know who else they named. Jehovah's Witness-- well, not Jehovah's. I'm going to get into that later. We think because of the marginalisation that they experience, they are more likely to be of a lower income, and therefore the economic incentive is more powerful for them to actually go out and get these vaccinations.
On the issue of people of colour and indigenous communities who are hesitant to get the jab, the negative team already tells you that people in Western Sydney-- which is a highly diverse area-- are super willing to get the vaccine because they implicitly acknowledge the people hesitant to get vaccines are not minorities who are the most marginalised, they are mums from Bondi and from Byron. And those are the people that our model is targeting.
And we also think, most importantly, what the negative team fails to acknowledge is that if there are all these minorities who cannot get vaccinated, we have an obligation as the government to protect these people by incentivising to get them vaccinated at whatever cost. Because when they did not get vaccinated, not only was the whole community harmed, but they were going to die of COVID. We felt that was a massive harm.
You weren't going to be able to convincingly pretend about all these minority stakeholders if they were just going to get COVID through breakout cases and die anyway. We thought it was always going to be principally best when the lives of minority communities were being protected because we incentivised them to get vaccinated.
They try to tell us all this stuff about Jehovah's. We think, one, it's very telling that the only major stakeholder that they could name as minorities were Jehovah's Witnesses, which make up, like, 0.1% of the Australian population. We thought was very telling in the sense that it showed that it was actually not the majority of marginalised minorities who were hesitant to get vaccinated.
We thought that if you were a Jehovah's Witness, you were probably white, probably middle class, you probably have the political capital to start your own business and hire unvaccinated, other Jehovah's Witnesses if you really wanted to. We did not need to guarantee every Jehovah's Witness a job in Australia. That was not a massive harm under our side. We were willing to let that go. They could just start businesses.
We think that at the end of the day, we are getting more minorities vaccinated, we are getting more people vaccinated, we are protecting Australian businesses, Australian jobs, and Australian lives. And for that reason, we were very, very, very proud to affirm. Thank you for your time.
NEVA MIKULIC: If you are a mum from Byron or Bondi, which is the main stakeholder that the affirmative team somehow thinks they're going to win over, you are an anti-vaxxer because that view is convenient to you. The moment it becomes inconvenient, you're going to change that. The moment you can't travel, the moment you can't engage in society fully, you are going to change that view. Being fired from your job when you're already rich and when your employer is unlikely to fire you because they probably hold the same views and live in the same area was not a disincentive that you needed.
The reality was that the reason why vaccination rates are not as high as they could be is because of resources and accessibility. We tell the affirmative team this consistently when we tell them that in areas where there is the most access to vaccines-- both in privileged and disprivileged areas, notably, not just in Western Sydney-- those areas are already approaching herd immunity. That happens globally, not just in Australia.
This was the main reason why people were not vaccinated. Any kind of increased vaccination rate that aff can claim is so minimal, yet what they do is incur a huge harm on a very small group of people that is so principally unjust and they simply refuse to engage with this. Two pieces of analysis from me today. Firstly, will this increase vaccination rates? And secondly, what is the impact on minority groups?
On the first point of why this will increase vaccination rates, note that even if we lose this point and aff does have some kind of benefit, the benefit that they're going to get is very, very low because they acknowledge that the overwhelming majority of people do want to get vaccinated. Note that the harm, then, to minority groups that we have far outweighs any kind of benefit that they get under this side.
The characterisation that we get in the debate quite late at third affirmative was that the people who aren't getting vaccinated are inherently selfish. And not only was this super insulting to minority groups who literally don't have access-- note that people living in rural indigenous communities where the rollout has been very slow, places like Wilcannia, now can get fired because the government has failed to supply them with a vaccine soon enough. That was a harm that only existed under the affirmative side.
But note that this characterisation just mechanistically does not make sense because firstly, these people will respond to far more soft incentives. Notably, they already are. The moment that Gladys was like, you're not going to be able to go outside unless you get vaccinated, people immediately got vaccinated more and people booked in for appointments.
And secondly, if these people weren't going to respond to these kinds of softer incentives, they weren't going to respond to losing their job anyway because they're likely wealth if the aff is characterising them as super selfish. And that meant that they were more likely to be inflamed by this model, they were more likely to organise and protest. They had more resources to convince other people to defend them and their opinions, and we thought that this kind of selfish characterisation of anti-vax had just completely fell out of this debate on the part of the affirmative.
As to the more reasonable reasons that they give us as to why they're going to increase vaccination rates, it's that they're going to change sceptics and the 11:00 o'clock media push isn't really working enough. Note firstly that there's already a huge organic change for people who are sceptical of the vaccine. The amount of people that they're going to convince through this incentive is barely anyone.
Note secondly that employers have to be on board to fire you. Not all employers are going to do that. We think the more likely outcome is that people are going to try and convince their employer. It's not an enforced thing.
Thirdly, we tell you that softer incentives often work for these sceptics. They acknowledge this at second affirmed when they tell you that the reason why religious groups don't vaccinate is because they're uneducated and think that foetuses are in the COVID vaccine. This being false proved our point that if there was an increase in education that people like would be more likely to get educated. And it's these kind of softer incentives that they've already acknowledged work.
Thirdly, we told you that this was unjust. The first thing the first affirmative says is that the government rollout has been extremely slow and that therefore, there's huge vaccine hesitancy. And those two things aren't, firstly, correlated.
And secondly, if the issue is the government rollout being slow and accessibility-- which we've told you repeatedly it is and we've mechanised reasons as for why this is the case-- then surely it's extremely unjust to continue to incentivise populations to get vaccinated when some people literally don't have access. There are stories on the news every day of people calling up vaccination hubs and not being able to get an appointment because they're so booked out. And these are the people now who aff is placing at risk of being fired from their job.
This disproportionately harms people who are in lower-paying jobs and who can't afford to lose their job financially whereas the Byron Bay mum who aff characterised as super selfish, if they don't get vaccinated under this model, they can still live. They can still fund their lifestyles. And we thought that this harm disproportionately impacted minority groups.
We also tell you fourthly-- and this is crucial to our case-- you can achieve herd immunity without anti-vaxxers. And we tell you that sceptics largely will get vaccinated and the anti-vaxxers are such a minority that even if everyone got vaccinated and anti-vaxxers didn't, we would still be protected and we would still achieve affirmative's end goal of herd immunity.
So note that even if they do benefit vaccination rates, it's literally so small-- I know that they do incur an active harm. We're not saying aff increases vaccination rates a little bit and we get nothing, therefore, it's not worth it. We're saying we get a huge active harm that exists under the affirmative side of the house.
They also have this, quite frankly, strange push at second affirmative, which is to say that businesses now feel better like opening up and people feel more incentivised to go out into businesses. Firstly, the reason why you felt safe engaging with the business was because you yourself were vaccinated. Knowing that other people were vaccinated was not the main thing that was going to make you feel protected. We tell you this quite clearly.
But also, businesses were going to open up anyway and were going to feel confident doing so because they're literally going bankrupt. They need this. There is no other bigger incentive that you could possibly give them than bankruptcy. The confidence that aff's model would give them knowing that they have this power is so, so low.
All of that material about the obligation of employees to protect their employees-- firstly, they can do so in so many other ways right by mandating PPE, et cetera. And already, when you achieve herd immunity, this obligation goes away completely, which they acknowledge. And we tell you we're going to get to herd immunity without their model.
But most importantly, all of this material and all of this principled obligation is nothing compared to the obligation we have to minority groups who cannot, who will not ever get vaccinated no matter what model you throw at them, which brings me on to my second point.
Note that aff says that we limit this debate to a very small amount of people who are minorities and that minorities are, like, 0.01% of the population. So religious is the weird stat that we get at third aff. Yes, we acknowledge this is a small amount of people because the vaccine-hesitant are a small amount of people. So of course this is who this debate is about because these are the people whose minds we're trying to change.
And we note that there are people who you're never going to be able to change their minds-- people who have this for religious reasons, people who are immunocompromised, people recovering from serious and sometimes stigmatised illnesses who have to delay vaccination. Their only response to this is the weird people are uneducated push that we get, which highlights the fact that already, other incentives work.
But they principally ignore the fact that these people are now harmed. The harms that we tell you these people, like increasing [inaudible] of not being vaccinated, literally being fired and no longer having a job, or being forced to take the vaccine against your personal beliefs. This means that you're more likely to feel conflicted, disenfranchised, you're going to think that you're going to hell. All of these are really large-scale personal harms.
And even if they don't affect a large group of people, the extent to which they affect these people is so devastatingly huge and it is principally unjust that aff is still allowing this to occur that the people this debate is about are literally people who are anti-vaxxers and who are entrenched in it because we've already established and mechanised that sceptical people will change for other reasons. So these anti-vaxxers who are anti-vaxxers for legitimate reasons are being super, super harmed by the affirmative team's model.
Note that stigma and discrimination increase. We also gave you a mechanism as to why people are more likely to get fired for existing discrimination that was unrelated to vaccination.
Most notably, then there's a group of anti-vaxxers who love to focus on who are anti-vaxxers for things like illegitimate reasons, like they follow right-wing populist movements, they hate the mainstream media, they're against the government. These are such deeply entrenched beliefs in people's worldviews, and we tell you this quite clearly at both first and second that they were never going to change their minds, even if you fired them from their job. They were people who likely white and privileged, could get another job, likely already worked in right-wing workplaces.
And most notably, these people, even if they did get vaccinated and stayed at their workplace, were still going to feel disenfranchised. This meant we get all of the harms about increased protests, people being less likely to wear PPE, distracting rhetoric and discourse from meaningful change about COVID. All of those things were active harms that harm broader society and that increase the risk of COVID transmission. And we told you that it was simply unjust for us to allow this to happen.
We see this happening with all kinds of lockdown protests already. At best case scenario is that somehow these people magically don't exist and don't incur all of these harms in society, even if they get vaccinated, the benefit to society is a lot lower than all of the harms that they incur because they feel this kind of disenfranchisement. Aff fail to acknowledge this through the entire debate. For these reason, aff's model is not only unnecessary and unjust, but incurs so many harms. And for these reasons, we are proud to negate.
ALEX DE ARAUJO: So firstly, the panel thought unanimously that this was an absolutely amazing debate. And we want to especially recognise the work of both Smiths Hill and Sydney Girls in making the State Final. This is, to my knowledge, the biggest debate in schools' debating competitions in Australia. Every public school in New South Wales, you're beating hundreds of schools to get here. And particularly for two schools who are so used to being in this final and doing very well, you've absolutely lived up to that tradition. And we got an absolutely amazing debate, so we hope that we can get a second round of applause for both teams for giving us such an amazing grand final and an amazing performance.
That said, while we thought this was a very high-quality debate, there were a few pieces of general feedback that we'd like to go through. And particularly if you're interested in university debating, even though there isn't very much debating left in high school careers for Year 12s, we thought there were a few things that we could point out.
So the first piece of general feedback we had was to weigh up what happens in the short term versus what happens in the long term in the debate. In particular, talk about when this power will actually be exercised by businesses. And what I mean by that is if it's used right now, 50% of people in the world in Australia are instantly sacked because not that many people are vaccinated right now. Does that make sense to both teams?
Whereas if businesses are going to use their better judgement and deploy it in the future, then it's more clear who the actual anti-vaxxers are and who just can't get their hands on the vaccine, unfortunately. And that is obviously a much better outcome for the world.
So do both teams understand how that could have played quite a bigger role in the debate than it did in that, obviously, in the short term, it could have a disastrous effect on the economy and people who don't have the opportunity, and also how children would never be able to get a job because the vaccination isn't approved for them. Whereas if there's better judgement being exercised and it's being used at some point in the future, then that's obviously much better for the affirmative team. So that's something that didn't play into our adjudication much because it wasn't really brought up, but it's something that could have been.
Our second piece of feedback which is also debate-specific is have a clear idea of who the anti-vaxxers are and how many there are. The reason why we bring this up is because both teams at times seemed like they were trying to have their cake and eat it, too. And I'll talk about both of you separately.
So for the affirmative team, obviously, the affirmative team's case relies on there being enough anti-vaxxers that we need to encourage them to get vaccinated for public health reasons. Otherwise, we're not going to get to herd immunity. But then, obviously, the affirmative team are also trying to downplay the impact on a lot of the anti-vaxxers that the negative team are bringing up by saying that they're not that numerous and there's actually really good reasons for those people to get vaccinated and so we don't need to worry about them, which is a bit of a tension.
And then equally in the negative case, the negative team are basing their case around a lot of communities who will experience a lot of harm and mental anguish and perhaps stigma if they're forced to get vaccinated, like religious communities, like minority communities. But then also, at first, they tell us that we don't actually need to encourage anyone to get vaccinated because we do get 95% herd immunity on things like measles.
And that obviously implies that there aren't actually that many people who refuse the vaccine and there aren't that many minority communities or religious communities who don't want the vaccine. In fact, that shows that most people are happy to get the vaccine. Does that make sense?
So it wasn't necessarily called out by both teams, either. But just be aware of when you are trying to have your cake and eat it, too, by using the benefit of one side of a potential characterisation in one area and using the other version of that characterisation to get a benefit in the other area.
Two more pieces of general feedback which are less debate-specific and more general-- the first is try to be a little bit more charitable to the other team. And I'm sure this is something that you'll hear in most of the adjudications that you experience because it's very tempting to make yourself feel better by pretending the opposition was weaker than they were in their response or didn't actually respond to something. But claims like, they never said this, or they never responded to this when they actually did have a response aren't particularly convincing to an adjudicator who has heard that response.
If the adjudicator didn't hear the response, then it's a good way to convince them that there wasn't a response. But most of the time, especially at this level, you can be pretty sure that the adjudicator has heard what the opposition have said, and so conveniently avoiding it is more obvious to the adjudicator than actually responding to it. Another related thing is it is OK to say things like you said that this argument's ridiculous or it's nonsense or it's not true, that's fine. But just try to acknowledge, at least, when the opposition has actually responded.
And then finally, in terms of feedback, know when you can actually claim a group of stakeholders that the opposition are claiming is a benefit for yourself. So for example, just to pick out one random example-- because I don't want to give too much in your feedback-- for the affirmative team, there's obviously-- and the affirmative team did try and do this later in the debate, but there's obviously good reason to explain why the communities that the negative team based their case on like religious communities and minorities are actually benefited to a great extent by the affirmative team in terms of public health, in terms of the economy. And there are flipside examples for the negative team based on the stakeholders that the affirmative team were trying to claim.
So trying to claim the opposition's stakeholders where they're basing their case actually is a benefit for your side because that's a good way of not just strengthening your case, but weakening the other case. And so it's sort of like a double way to turn around in the debate because you're strengthening to the exact same amount that the other team is weakening, if that makes sense.
So that's the general feedback we saw in the debate. Again, we are in agreement this was an absolutely amazing debate, and we were unanimous in our decision. And the way that we saw this debate was mostly coming down to three issues, which I'll go through one by one-- firstly, the effect on public health; secondly, the specific effect on people who might not be vaccinated immediately or aren't vaccinated right now or might be hesitant and to what extent those people existed; And then finally, the effect on the economy. And those are pretty much the issues that the two teams agreed on as well.
Just quickly before I get to that, though, I do want to make a quick note about rights just because the affirmative team tell us that we have an obligation to employers not to force them to hire someone who is unvaccinated, and with the second speaker, they expand on this by saying that people have a right to, for example, have their superannuation money used on only hiring vaccinated people. The negative team conversely tells us it's unfair to place a burden on people who simply can't get the vaccine.
Ultimately, affirmative team themselves at second speaker tell us that this debate isn't about rights and they don't want it to be about rights. They want it to be about maximising utility. And the negative team seems quite happy to agree with that.
So even though there were principled arguments based on both sides, we didn't have those feed into our decision anywhere near as much as the practical arguments did because ultimately, both teams agreed that the practical arguments and actual benefits to people-- whether that be the health of society or the mental state and stigma and worsening anti-vax sentiment of people who weren't going to get vaccinated immediately-- the practical effects on those groups were more important than the principle, and they fed into any principle arguments that would be made. So we prioritised those in our decision.
So onto the effect of public health. The affirmative tell us that there is a catastrophe waiting to happen with new variants, meaning full vaccination is essential. And they tell us that their model compels people to vaccinate themselves by putting their job at risk, which notably reaches deniers or vaccine-sceptics who now have a monetary incentive to vaccinate even if they don't believe in it. They do concede that some people will still refuse the vaccination, and they don't particularly deal with those people, but they just say they're a tiny proportion of the population.
And they also give us a number of reasons why employers will take up this model because they have lots of transmissions and they want their customers to feel safe and they obviously don't want lockdowns. And the second speaker expands on this by telling us that a spike in cases heavily refuses confidence in shopping there.
The negative tell us on the flip side that there isn't much of a health benefit to be gained, and that's because there are already enough massive incentives to get vaccinated due to, for example, self-preservation, the desire to get back to a normal life, initiatives like vaccine passports, and the stigma towards the unvaccinated. And they also point to Australia's empirically high vaccination rate for diseases like measles and smallpox despite the supposed presence of anti-vaxxers. And they claim the real problem-- which we thought was explained quite well and consistently-- is supply rather than demand.
In response to this, affirmative point to a very high threshold of 95%, which is the necessary target which we need for herd immunity. And they also explain-- while this came out later in the debate, it became more crystallised as the case went on in rebuttal to the negative team-- that there is far more resistance to the COVID vaccine than previous ones, as evidenced by things like the lockdown protests. And that comes from groups that are traditionally not anti-vaxxers-- like, for example, ordinary people who were attending those lockdown protests. And so it seems more widespread.
The negative tell us in response, though, that those hardcore anti-vaxxers, this law just makes them more entrenched and vocal in their views and more encouraged to fight back and convince others. And they may just move to workplaces where this isn't enforced and cluster with anti-science people, which is obviously worse.
The affirmative team tells us it doesn't have to be about messaging, it comes from businesses rather than the government. But the negative team, we thought, were right to point out that the fact that it comes from businesses and not the government is more likely to entrench people in their views because it's like a betrayal coming from an area of your life that you personally know and experience.
At the end of the day, when it came to hardcore anti-vaxxers, though, while the negative team did explain that they'd become more entrenched and vocal in their views, it was unclear how those people would become more numerous or worse because as the affirmative teams say-- and as is quite intuitive-- they are already vocal in their views and fighting back and not getting the vaccine.
And we didn't hear tangible examples of things that those anti-vaxxers could do. For example, we thought the negative team could have made an argument that they would not send their kids to hospitals or to schools because they're scared of them getting the vaccine. And ultimately, while the negative team did say that they might move to workplaces where this isn't enforced and convince other people, we ultimately thought the affirmative team gave enough reasons why most businesses would actually want to put this in place, particularly in relation to their economic arguments as to why it made very much economic sense that that probably wouldn't be too much of a problem and there wouldn't really be those hubs of businesses that would remain open,
But the other thing the negative team tell us here is that these people will never, ever get vaccinated and will never change their minds. And ultimately, that fed into what the affirmative team, in our eyes, were trying to say, which is that clearly, the only way to get to that 95% given the presence of those anti-vaxxers who will never change their mind is, in fact, to make sure that you vaccinate literally everybody else in Australia.
As well as the affirmative team's argument that those people don't deserve jobs, we thought that was-- obviously, that was brought out at third, it was a little bit later. And perhaps it wasn't as principled as it could have been. But we didn't necessarily hear much of a response from the negative team on that, so we were willing to buy it to some extent.
So ultimately, there was a benefit to be had on public health, and we weren't necessarily going to get to that 95% vaccination automatically. And even if there were some hardcore anti-vaxxers, those people, even if more entrenched in their views, were probably not going to change their mind anyway by the negative team's own admission. So there was some health benefit to be had, and that was important. We thought the affirmative team did a good job of impacting in terms of saving lives, and later on, keeping the economy open.
That, obviously, does not win the debate for the affirmative team because the negative team can still win the debate if they prove that there is enough of a harm to people who won't get vaccinated and enough of a proportion of people who won't get vaccinated to outweigh the health benefits, which the negative team did do a very good job of mitigating, even if they couldn't remove them entirely. So let's look at the effect on people who aren't vaccinated right now because this is where the bulk of the negative team's material lies.
They tell us that people who don't want the vaccine extends beyond science-deniers to other groups like religious communities, minorities who are naturally distrusting of a medical system that's hurt them in the past, and also people who just haven't been able to book it due to the slow rollout.
And they tell us a whole host of harms that applies to these people and that it punishes them for things that aren't necessarily in their control. It ignores their situation and puts them into a traumatic process and feeds into harmful narratives about those communities which could expose them to stigma and also push them towards those hardcore anti-vaxxers that we were talking about earlier to strengthen that movement.
The affirmative team, again-- this isn't necessarily brought out early on before they had the chance to rebut, but as it becomes more and more rebuttal, it becomes crystallised in their case, which is that the overwhelming majority of vaccine-sceptics aren't underprivileged indigenous communities or religious communities, it's more so mums, as they say, in Bondi and Byron who think they're above the law. And they point to the lockdown protests as examples of the changing demographics of anti-vaxxers in relation to the COVID-19 vaccine specifically.
The negative team also, as we mentioned earlier, talk about how vaccination rates are so high in Australia, indicating that those communities are happy to get vaccinated for the most part. And these harms to people who won't get vaccinated are likely not as extensive or serious as they'd have us believe because presumably, if we are going to get herd immunity and if people have been happy to get vaccinated in the past with things like measles, it's not necessarily going to incur a problem when they have to get vaccinated for the COVID-19 pandemic.
The negative team do say that in the short term, it is unfair on people who haven't had the chance to get vaccinated, and this is certainly a good argument. And again, we thought it could have been made more of in our general feedback. However, we thought the affirmative team just managed to get around it by saying that you only need to show a booking in their model for a future vaccine, which could be weeks in advance.
We also thought that the harm to people who weren't vaccinated right now was at least one that you could do something about in the future. It was fixable, whereas the converse harm for businesses and society of people not being vaccinated was something that they couldn't influence themselves and needed protection on.
We also thought that the affirmative team did have some good contributions on this issue themselves and that they do some work pointing to these specific communities the negative team are mentioning, particularly in relation to religious people, and explain that most religious people are more than happy to get the vaccine. And a lot of the reasons why they aren't stem from misinformation rather than a religious opposition. And they mentioned the same thing for minority communities.
And also, they bring up in the debate that they are ultimately saving these people's lives who are often a victim of that misinformation, and so there is actually a benefit to be had on the people who aren't vaccinated right now. And even if people are hesitant to get the vaccine and even if that might be quite traumatic for them, the alternative is for them to potentially die or have some sort of serious health impact as well as pass that onto their families. And so we thought that the impacting that the affirmative team did on the health benefits also fed into this issue.
Finally, on the effect of the economy, we thought the affirmative team gave a quite well-explained argument on why this speeds up the economic recovery as consumers and businesses become more willing to spend money and invest, which leads to much more job creation, too. They also tell us there's less outbreaks, meaning businesses can operate more successfully without interruption, meaning more income, more goods and services, and more jobs, which we thought was good impacting.
The negative team tell us that businesses are going to open up anyway regardless, but we didn't think that that dealt with the length and breadth of the analysis in this argument and even if businesses were to open up, if there were going to be outbreaks, then they would have to close down and that would obviously have harms to consumers and those businesses.
So ultimately, the way we saw this debate was even though the effect on public health was nowhere near as big as the affirmative team would have us believe because the negative team did very good work in mitigating it, ultimately that work that the negative team did also mitigated their own harms on the people who weren't willing to get vaccinated.
And what that meant was for each individual person, we thought that the wider benefit the affirmative team were able to prove towards the health of society and the economy ultimately outweighed the potential trauma of having to get the vaccine if you didn't want to, particularly in light of the fact that people who are so staunchly anti-vax they will never get the vaccine were probably not going to be much of a difference or swing on either side. So because of this, we've given this debate to the affirmative team. Congratulations, Smiths Hill, on being the champions.
JOSEPHINE PERRY: Yeah, well, first of all, just a massive congratulations are in order. We'd just like to congratulate Smiths Hill on what was such an interesting and challenging debate. You're such a strong team. And it was also nice for some of us to see-- I think the last time we saw you was in, like, 2017. But we'd just also like to extend this thank you to everybody who made not only today possible, but also the past couple of weeks possible. It's been so nice to be able to debate even though we're in lockdown. So thank you.
JUSTINE CLARKE: Thanks Josephine, and you're very welcome. Could I get a member of the Smiths Hill team to respond, please?
PETRIS SIVILLS: We'd first let us say thank you so much to Mrs. Doyle. For us, this would not have been possible without you, [inaudible], so thank you very much. And we would also like to thank the organisers for organising the debate. Also Taylor as well for going through preps together. So thank you for that. And thank you for the Sydney Girls team for a very interesting debate. We did learn a lot, and good luck in your future debates.
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