Video transcript
NSW Premier's Debating Challenge 2023 – Years 9 and 10 State Final

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[intro music]

[applause, cheering]

AUDIENCE: I don't know.

JUSTINE CLARKE: OK. Good morning, everybody. And welcome to the Theatre Royal for the Premier's Debating Challenge for Years 9 and 10 State Final. I'd like to acknowledge the Gadigal people, who are the traditional custodians of this land. I'd also like to pay respects to Elders, both past and present, and extend that respect to any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people here today. As we listen to the voices of these young people speaking today, we remember that Aboriginal people are our first storytellers and keepers of the oral tradition.

My name is Justine Clarke. And I am the speaking competitions officer for the NSW Department of Education. Thank you for joining us today to witness what I am sure will be a wonderful final between these 2 teams.

Our chairperson today is Gina Hong from Fort Street High School. And our timekeeper is Min Park, also from Fort Street. Fort Street were quarterfinalists in this competition. And I'd like to say a big thank you to Fort Street for letting them look after us today. I'll now hand over to Gina to take over from here.


GINA HONG: Thank you, Justine. Welcome to the 2023 state final of the Premier's Debating Challenge for Years 9 and 10 for the Teasdale Trophy. This competition began in 1950 with a donation of a trophy by Charles and Fred Teasdale for an annual debating competition at intermediate level between high schools on the North Shore. Over the years, it has expanded into a state-wide competition. This year, 327 teams from 227 schools entered the Premier's Debating Challenge. And approximately 1,600 students were involved across the state. The majority of debates took place online, but many teams took the opportunity to get back to some face-to-face debating as well.

Today's final is the first in-person state final for this competition to be held at the Theatre Royal. On your program, you will see listed the names of the schools that won their zones, as well as those that went on to compete in the knockout finals, as well as congratulations to all of those schools for the success in this prestigious competition.

Today's debate is between Lindfield Learning Village and North Sydney Girls High School. The affirmative team from North Sydney Girls is first speaker Fiona Pan, second speaker Vivien Tang, third speaker Emily Phi, fourth speaker Erin Lee and their coach is Madeleine Koo. The negative team from Lindfield Learning Village is first speaker Tom Keen, second speaker Katherine Lowbeer, third speaker Aradhana Rao, fourth speaker Joshua Mewing and the coach is Jackie Smith.

The adjudicators for this final are Micaela Bassford, Neva Mikulic and Indigo Crosweller. In 2022, Neva won the Premier's Debating Challenge for Year 12, the NSW Debating Challenge and the East Side Debating Competition. She was a member for the NSW state debating squad and continued her passion for public speaking by delivering a series of keynote speeches at various events, including the RSL and Schools Remember Anzac Day ceremony.

Since graduating from Sydney Girls High School, Neva has started a double degree in arts with a major in international relations and law at the University of Sydney. In her first year of university, Neva never has debated at 2 national and 2 Australasian championships and was most recently a semi-finalist at the Australasian Women's and Gender Minorities Debating Championships. She is one of the combined high schools' representative teams coaches and has adjudicated the state finals of multiple high school debating and public speaking competitions. Please welcome Neva Mikulic.


Indigo Crosweller was awarded the Lily Gunther Shield for being the best speaker at the Junior State Debating Championships in 2015 and was a member of the Sydney Girls High School team, who won this competition in 2016. She was a member of the NSW Debating Union State Team from 2016 to 2018 and a member of the Combined Schools Representative Team in 2017. Indigo is in her final year of law at the University of Sydney. She is a combined high schools coach and one of the arts unit's most experienced adjudicators. She is currently employed as a support officer for speaking competitions for the Department of Education and helps to run debating and public speaking competitions across the state. Please welcome Indigo Crosweller.


Micaela Bassford was an accomplished debater and public speaker as a student attending Kirrawee High School. She was a state finalist in the Plain English Speaking Award in 2010 and 2011 and a state finalist of the Legacy Junior Public Speaking Award in 2007 and 2008. She was also a state finalist in the Premier's Debating Challenge for Years 9 and 10 in 2009 and a member of the Combined High Schools Debating Team in 2010. Micaela has adjudicated both state and national finals for the Plain English Speaking Award and the Legacy Junior Public Speaking Award, as well as state finals for the Multicultural Perspectives Public Speaking Competition.

Micaela holds a bachelor of economics with first class honours and a bachelor of laws from the University of Sydney. She is currently assistant director at the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. Please welcome Micaela Bassford.


The topic for this debate is that we should exclude smokers from the public health care system. Now, please welcome the first affirmative speaker Fiona Pan to open the debate.


FIONA PAN: In today's world, we see people using a public health care system, using someone else's tax money to treat an illness that they knowingly expose themselves to. We propose that any smoker of cigarettes or vapes will be excluded from the public health care system for the next 10 years from the moment they purchase it with a licence. A couple of things in today's speech-- firstly, a bit on setup on what the world currently looks like and why not enough measures have been introduced to solve the root problem; secondly, on how model therefore disincentivises all parties to the greatest extent; and thirdly, just the principal push behind public health care and our model altogether.

So what does our world currently look like? Currently, smoking is one of the most pervasive issues. Right? You walk down the street. You see 2 people smoking. It is such a big issue. And it's one of the biggest causes of diseases and illnesses within our country, whether it be heart disease or lung disease. And so what does this mean? This means that the root problem is the consequences are currently far too mild based on what the government has done.

And so what have they done? Firstly, 2 things under this. Taxation. Taxation, we have seen an added tax onto cigarettes. Right? But in reality, we have seen that this actually doesn't do much. We have seen no decrease, no tangible change and there hasn't been a sufficient number of people limited to purchasing cigarettes. And so therefore, it is not responsive. And it is not meeting societal needs. And most importantly, it is not going far enough to disincentivise people from smoking.

And secondly, through the introduction of vapes and e-cigarettes. Originally, these were made as an alternate form of smoking to discourage people from actually smoking cigarettes. However, we see that they also have severely adverse impacts on health. And they are even worse seeing that a lot of young people are now severely addicted to it based on the marketing that they have included.

And so what does this mean altogether? This means that we need to make clearer short term consequences because, currently, smokers, all they think is, oh yeah, maybe I'll smoke but the impact won't hit me until 30 years later. No. We need a model to make sure that the impact will be seen tomorrow because this is the only way that they will truly be disincentivised. And what does this mean under our model? This means the very cost of their own life and their access to Medicare.

We think that this is the only way to truly disincentivise them from smoking because current consequences are so long term. All we hear is, oh yeah, well, maybe in 30 years' time you might have some kind of lung cancer but, no, we need to show them that tomorrow there will be an issue. Right? And so any person who hears that they will have to pay a whopping sum from their wage for private health care for 10 years after buying one pack of cigarettes will then, therefore, we will see a significant change in their kind of mindset on smoking and overall see a decrease in the number of smokers, which is the whole point of today's topic. And so we believe that the main parties in today's debate can be classified by each age group. And I'll go through why our model benefits the greatest number of people under that.

So firstly, we see the young people. Let's characterise them into 2 groups of people. Firstly, under 18 and secondly over 18 but still below middle age. For the under 18 people, to begin with, vaping and smoking for them is illegal. And so the consequences of their illegal actions aren't limited to our model. Instead we think that these young people will grow up with a better understanding of the harms of smoking, both short and long term. And so that means that future generations are less likely to smoke and overall society's health will improve drastically.

And so we also think that our model encourages social messaging, where they fully understand the consequences of smoking based on what they see from their parents, who will also directly be impacted the day after they do smoke, which is a short term consequence now that we see. And so my second speaker will expand on the actual social messaging behind this.

And then so we have the second group of young people. These are the people over 18 below middle age. And so why do they smoke? Firstly, well, because it's cool. Secondly because maybe social media trends, friends and social pressure make them do that. And thirdly, because they have the mindset which is like, oh, I'm so young. How will smoking impact me today? I'm so healthy. So how will our model help this? They will make smarter decisions, firstly. They will realise the implications of smoking. And they will be less likely to make rash decisions.

Take an 18-year-old. If they do smoke, they won't be able to access public health care until 28. And what does that mean? At 28, you'll be thinking about your HEX Fund. About your housing, about your mortgage, about your marriage, about your kids and about your future. And so we believe this will greatly de-incentivise them from smoking. And in the long term, there will be less social media trends around smoking because society as a whole will turn against smoking to a greater extent than it currently is. And thirdly, same benefits as before. We will see that the next generation are much healthier with a less number of people who are smoking.

Now, on to the middle age group of smokers. And so we kind of split them into 2 categories, firstly, the people who are addicted from a young age. So our model will kind of do 2 things. Firstly, just give these people a wake up call and realise the severity of their actions. It would also disincentivise them from continuing and help incentivise them to reach out or quit smoking because they will realise they will lose health care and therefore also impact their own health as well as their family.

Take a mother who is addicted with 3 kids and a mortgage. When you hear that tomorrow your access to public health care will be banned-- will be eradicated for the next 10 years, how likely do you think that they will continue to smoke? Very, very minimally. And secondly, those who are inclined to start smoking recreationally because they have the economic capabilities to or they simply see as fun. And so what does our model do for these people? Firstly, it reduces the number of people who smoke because they want to or because they can, ultimately, because of the dire consequences.

And so therefore, people-- we know that people do value money. They want to have access to public health care. They want to make the most of their taxpayers' money. And so we think that those people who smoke for recreation under our model will inherently stop. And secondly, it also reduces the number of people who just disregard smoking harms and consequences. And they do it to de-stress. And so people are more inclined to pick up other methods of de-stressing such as exercising, which is far more healthier.

And finally, for the old age people, we believe that these are kind of the most prevalent demographic of people affected because they rely the most on public health care. And so what do these people look like? They look like 60- to 70-year-olds. And smoking was so normalised for them when they were younger. And so they were probably addicted. And now they probably suffer from all sorts of health issues and likely rely on public health care to treat for themselves.

And so what do they look like under our model? Honestly, our model does not impact them as much because our policy is not retrospective. So then this means that they will not-- their access to health care will not be cut just because they started smoking 20 years ago. But instead, if they started smoking today, this will be an issue. So unless your grandpa who's on his ventilator and decides to go for a run down the street to buy a pack of cigarettes, they will not be impacted under our model. And so our policy is looking to turn around these people.

So what benefits do we see under our policy? So we see that less old people are smoking. And so they kind of have the incentive to stop because even if they were severely on health issues and they were still addicted to smoking, by knowing that they would have to pay the next 10 years of their massive Medicare fund, that means that they will likely to be disincentivised to continue. And so generally, we think this is good because why? Smoking is bad. And less bystanders will be inhaling smoke so overall will be improving public health.

And even if there are still old people who still decide to smoke and buy cigarettes and vapes, we believe that these people are actually unlikely to be impacted by any model because if they choose to ignore a hard line model like the one that we are proposing, what is going to make them listen? What is going to make them stop? Nothing. So ultimately, we think that this is so minor. And to be honest, this is such a strange group of people that we just don't really care about these consequences overall.

And so what do we see at the end of this? We see that those involved, which is essentially also smokers of society, are greatly benefited, either with a clearer understanding and also a clearer short term and long term consequences of smoking.

And finally, kind of on to the principle push in this, so what is the overall point of government funding? Government funding is to help people who can't afford Medicare or can't afford certain access to public health care systems to be helped. And how exactly do smokers take advantage of this? Well, smokers know what they are doing. Most of the time, they know it's bad. In today's society, it is so widespread the consequences of smoking or vaping. And so it is clear that they make that choice to smoke. It is not a cruel twist of fate that they suddenly get sick. It is years and years of addiction built up on knowledge that they knew was wrong.

And now so what does this mean? Taxpayers are funding to keep the other people alive. We think that, principally, this is not fair. We have already identified that the groups of people who smoke literally know the consequences of smoking. And so they are doing it out of knowing blindness. Smoking-induced illnesses are preventable. And we know that smokers simply need to deal with kind of a short-term withdrawal from smoking, which is exactly what our model proposes.

And so if smoking-induced illnesses infiltrate the health care system, low SES people who are not smokers will not be treated with the amount of resources and care that they should have. And resources and funding within the public health care will go more on the people who are smoking and knowingly smoking knowing that their actions are wrong, meaning that there's an unequal distribution of taxpayers' money.

And so furthermore, why is someone else's hard earned money spent on someone who knowingly put their life at risk through smoking? We simply think that, at the end at this point, this is unfair because they should face the consequences of their own actions knowingly. And so what do we see at the end of this point? We see that, under our model, taxpayer money funding health care will be more equally distributed while those who smoke knowingly with the consequences will not be able to manipulate the health care system and will have to face the consequences themselves. Overall, our model is actually tangibly disincentivises smokers, benefiting all parties involved. Thank you.


GINA HONG: Thank you, Fiona. Please welcome the first negative speaker Tom Keen to begin their case.


TOM KEEN: OK. So what am I going to be doing in this speech? I first plan on going over some kind of key flaws in the opposition's case. After this, I'm going to prove to you that there are elements of coercion in smoking to agree that it simply isn't fair to bar them from an essential system due to a choice that they simply aren't making in the right state of mind. After this, I'm then going to characterise what this practically does to smokers, how it prevents them from accessing any sort of health care at all and fails to disincentivise smoking to the degree the opposition thinks it's going to.

So first of all, just some rebuttal. So opposition's model pretty much just encourages people to stop smoking on the spot. We believe this simply is well known to be an ineffective means of quitting smoking. Quitting smoking is a slow and personal process. And opposition's model punishes these people in absurd excess for a single slip-up.

What we think is that if people see that one slip-up costs them 10 years of access to health care-- that's like a 10th of someone's life, if they're a heavy smoker probably more than a 10th-- these people are simply, like who are already in quite a bad situation, that's why they smoke-- simply aren't going to bother avoiding smoking because they screw up. OK, 10 years gone, you don't get public health care anymore. And as I'm going to explain in a minute, you probably don't get private health care either.

We also believe the principle importance of hospitals that opposition talks about-- we believe the principle of importance of hospitals is to help people. The principle importance of hospitals is not to have a bunch of empty beds that you could be using to help people but simply aren't under opposition's side of the house because then those people are just completely barred from the public health care system. We believe it's a better use of hospital resources if the hospital is actually saving people. Empty beds don't do anything really.

We also believe it's just morally wrong to hold such a high punishment over smokers' heads. Like as opposition says, the consequence can just be death in some cases. And we believe that barring them from the public health care system, even if they had free choice, simply wouldn't be justified. Smoking is the cause of, we agree, some health care issues, but there are also health care issues that just aren't caused by smoking and so these people should obviously be able to access public health care for these issues.

If I'm walking back from my work and I slip and I snap my ankle, I should probably be able to go to the hospital for that regardless of whether I smoked a cigarette 10 minutes ago. Right? The cigarette is clearly unrelated. Smoking is unrelated to some of the issues these people face. And so they should be able to access public health care for these purposes, we believe.

Now on to my first point, which is why smokers do not make the decision to smoke of their own free will. We believe that while smoking people cannot simply choose to stop smoking-- we give you 2 reasons for why this is the case. First of all, cigarettes contain nicotine. Nicotine is addictive. We believe it's quite intuitive that addiction is something that goes beyond just simple choice. These people suffer withdrawal symptoms. They suffer a mental compulsion to continue smoking.

And so we believe just right off the bat these people, who are already smoking under opposition's model, aren't making the choice to just stop. That simply doesn't happen. Right? We also believe that the factors that cause somebody to begin smoking continue to be present as they smoke. This can look like stress. This can look like peer pressure. I'm going to go more into this in a minute. Those are 2 reasons why these people aren't simply making the choice to stop smoking. They can't simply make that choice.

OK. So what about people that haven't started smoking yet but are going to start smoking under opposition's model? Surely, they get a choice. They're not addicted yet. No. They don't get a choice. I'm going to explain why.

OK. So we believe that societal circumstances, like economic and social, push these people into smoking. And they aren't making the decision to begin smoking in a correct frame of mind to be having informed consent of the situation. We believe that peer pressure can push people into smoking. Severe amounts of stress can push people into smoking. Poor household life can lead to smoking. We believe stress can come from so many forms.

We simply believe that because of all these factors, people who start smoking often aren't in the right frame of mind to properly assess their risks. What is going to happen to me in 30 years if I smoke? What are the potential side effects of this? We believe those people simply can't do that because of the situations they're in in their life.

OK. So what does this mean? We also believe that people who are in the situation where they push to begin smoking despite the stigma around smoking that already exists, the taxes and the negative advertising around smoking just proves if they're willing to disregard all that, they aren't in the right frame of mind.

So what should you believe after I've told you this? You should believe that people who smoke are not simply making a decision weighing up costs and benefits to begin smoking. They don't have a choice in the matter. And so we can't punish them for this lack of choice or lack of proper informed choice that they've been given in the matter. So opposition's argument that these people are excluding themselves from the public health care system of their own free choice is mechanically flawed because that free choice doesn't exist.

Now, on to my second point regarding the practical implications this has on smokers. So we're characterising that smokers are primarily people of low SES. All right. We believe that the characteristics that would push someone into smoking are simply more common in this environment-- financial stress, other stress, poorer living conditions. We believe that that's more characteristic among people that don't have too much socioeconomic status.

OK. So what does this mean? It means these people rely on the public health care system to provide them with help because, as opposition characterises for us, people rely on the public health care system when they can't afford anything else. OK. So now that these people cannot access the public health care system, where do they go for help? It's pretty obvious. It's private health care. That's where they'll be going.

Now, when these people have to go to private health care, we believe that because these people aren't in the best financial situation most of the time and private health care is expensive, these people then have to pay quite a bit of the money they make on private health care. We believe this is simply an unfair financial burden for these people to have. It's principally wrong. It's unfair and because these people already suffer the financial disadvantage of being smokers because cigarettes are expensive and, as we've already characterised, these people don't have too much free will regarding whether they smoke with cigarettes or not.

And so what this does is this puts them under extreme financial burden. We also believe that-- obviously, this is principally unfair. We also tell you that this practically reduces their quality of life, which is wrong. And we also tell you that increased financial burdens kind of lead to more stress. And I need not remind you what the main cause of smoking is.

But let's take this a step further. All right? When all of these smokers get funnelled into the private health care system, the private system is going to take advantage of this because it's private health care because its main incentive is money. We already see private health care inflating prices for people that have health conditions.

So what do we see happening when all of these smokers get funnelled into private health care? What happens is the price of private health care for these smokers skyrockets. All of a sudden, the price is like multiple times what it would have been previously. All of the financial burdens that I have previously characterised for you are multiplied. And all of a sudden, smokers get 2 choices. Either they completely trash their financial situation or they simply don't have access to health care, which effectively dooms them if they suffer any sort of health condition that could be fatal.

Now, why is the coercion opposition provides insufficient? We tell you that if the government all of a sudden kicks people out of its health care systems because they smoke, these people lose trust in the government. They gain spite against the government. They're much less likely to cooperate with the government's messages of do not smoke.

What do we also tell you? We tell you that the fact that people are addicted to smoking and suffer withdrawals and mental compulsions to smoke means that consequences like this are simply unviable and dealing with smoking should be done at a more personal level. So what do we tell you?

What should you believe after all of this? We tell you you should believe that people are coerced to begin smoking and coerced to continue smoking, so they don't have free choice in the matter. We tell you that these people then simply aren't going to stop smoking because opposition punishes them for it.

And we tell you that opposition's model does effectively bar them from getting health care, which has practical downsides, meaning that the best benefits you get under opposition's model are a slight decrease in use of government resources at the cost of a bunch of people dying. And we believe that that, principally, is not justified, A, because people dying is wrong and, B, because these people don't have a choice in the matter to suffer the consequences that opposition puts onto them and that is why I am so proud to negate.


GINA HONG: Thank you, Tom. Now please welcome the second speaker of the affirmative, Vivien Tang, to continue their case.


VIVIEN TANG: All right. So 2 things to run through in today's speech. Firstly, just overall characterisation of smokers in general and secondly, why we believe that all of these benefits that we claimed in the first speech is exclusive to our model.

Now, under the first point, which is sort of just overall characterisation, negative team comes up and tells us, oh, we don't believe smokers have free choice. We believe all smokers are coerced into smoking due to ads and addiction, et cetera. And they also tell us we strand smokers by implementing our model. And thirdly, they tell us we conflict the principle use of hospitals in general.

Well, we tell you we don't think that smokers are coerced. Why do we say this? Well, yes, people have like ads, et cetera. And like, yes, nicotine exists. But we think people have enough understanding of their actions to understand, oh, smoking is bad in general. So why do we say this? Because we have from primary school all the way, basically like in all factors and sectors of your life, you're going to get some sort of media or some sort of information about smoking.

So for example, we know people from primary school, stuff like Healthy Harold, like PDH lessons, they all tell you smoking's bad, basically. And then you also have stuff on the media, like government ads, research papers, campaigns, telling you smoking is bad, don't smoke, like the consequences of smoking. And we also have stuff like even just like on cigarette packages you have very graphic images of the consequences of smoking and the diseases that you get from smoking. So we think why do people still smoke even though there's so much information about why you shouldn't smoke? We think because people don't have enough disincentive not to smoke. And we think even if they do understand the consequences of smoking, they don't care enough.

So at the end of this, we think people, firstly, do understand enough about the consequences of smoking so, no, we're not coercing them. They have free will. They understand the consequences of smoking but they still choose to smoke. And furthermore, there's overall misconception of smoking within these smokers. They don't see the short-term, long-term consequences of this. And so that's the problem that we're trying to solve with our model. So yeah.

Furthermore, now onto like, sort of just like the opposition says, our model strands these smokers. Well, firstly, let me just clarify that rehabilitation services do not fall under health care services. What do we mean by rehabilitation services? We think this looks like community centres, like experts in this field of smoking coming into community centres, hosting free talks to anyone who wants to join about how to quit. And we also think this looks like government counselling. All of these are free services that anyone can access.

So no, even if these smokers don't have access to public health care, we don't think they're stranded. We think if they want to quit smoking, they still have access to all those services and rehabilitation counselling, et cetera, that they need to quit smoking. And furthermore, just like the opposition has this sort of point about like private health care and how if we get rid of private health care-- or get rid of smokers' access to public health care, the whole private health care sector is going to capitalise on this, well, we tell you, firstly, they say a reason for this is because like, oh, well, smokers want to quit. Right?

So however, like just then, I explained why we think rehabilitation services are separate to public and private health care. So we don't think the opposition's argument stands for this point. And secondly, we also think the government has a certain level of interference with private health care just because health care is a necessity and a right for all members of society. So if private health care is so expensive in society, we don't think the government is just going to sit there and watch this entire thing go on.

And secondly, not everyone will go into private health care because we believe there are certain like members of society, such as like the young people or the middle-aged people, who will actually quit smoking when our model comes into place so, no, we don't believe private health care will capitalise on this or as much as to the extent that the opposition claims.

And thirdly, just on the principal use of hospitals, so, yes, we agree the hospital is supposed to be to help all people regardless of whether they smoke or not. However, we don't think public health care, like public hospitals funded by taxpayers' monies, we don't think taxpayer money should be used to help people who are actively trying to harm their bodies.

Now, onto my second point, which is why we believe like these benefits are specific to our model. So onto my first point, which is sort of like the economic problem, which is like if there's demand, then there's supply. And then now I'd like to talk about why this relates to our model and why that means our model specifically has to be implemented instead of a ban or a tax.

So what sort of is the root problem that causes people to smoke? People don't understand well enough the consequences of smoking or, even if they do, they don't care enough to stop smoking. So then there's overall demand for cigarettes in society. So then how does our model specifically target this? Well, if we take away someone's access to public health care, we think there's enough disincentivisation for people to stop smoking.

So why do we think this? Well, we think public health care is things like bulk billing, like GP, like covering part of your hospital fees, for example. So we think without public health care, people have to pay more, like substantially more. And we think people value their health and have to pay substantially more. And then also we think people value their health and their bodies enough to care about losing access to public health system.

So for example, if you lose access to 10 years of public health system, a lot can happen in 10 years. Right? And we think people will be able to recognise this. You could develop cancer in these 10 years. So we think like there is enough this disincentivisation under our model to stop smoking because people value money and they value their health.

Now, furthermore, just like onto our model is able-- like furthermore, just bans and taxes on smokers don't work because they don't reduce the demand for cigarettes. And this is something like my first speaker has touched on. So the government implemented a tax on cigarettes. But instead of actually working, this shifted the use of cigarettes to vapes instead just because it doesn't target the actual demand for these products. And people need help from nicotine addiction, not cutting them off from smokes or vapes, et cetera.

And I want to touch on social messaging and how that can bring long term change to our society. So we think if we implement this model then people are going to think that the government thinks smoking is bad enough to take away someone's right to health care. We think it will help society realise the severity of their actions. And like my first speaker already explained the purpose of public funding, but we think it reduces the overall number of people who think, oh, smoking is OK.

And it also reduces the amount of media and social media trends, like the romanticisation of smoking due to older movies like stuff like the coquette aesthetic. We think overall society is going to-- there's going to be an overall reduction of positive messages about smoking in society just because people realise the negative harms of smoking enough.

And furthermore, just onto another benefit that's specific to our model, and it's sort of just helping the overall like health care system right now. So the health care system right now is overloaded. So then we think if we implement our model, we're able to reduce some members of society who clearly don't care about their health enough to actually stop smoking, which is so detrimental to their health. Right. So we think this can actually help low SES people who don't smoke but still need access to these health care services because then there can be more doctors, nurses, et cetera. And these low SES people can actually have more access to health care.

And furthermore, just the overall like quality and quality of health care can be improved just because the system is less overcrowded. Hence at the end of this, we think there are a multitude of benefits that are exclusive and specific to our model, hence I am proud to affirm. Thank you.


GINA HONG: Thank you, Vivien. Next, please welcome the second speaker of the negative, Katherine Lowbeer.


KATHERINE LOWBEER: The affirmative team is suggesting to you that we should actively limit free health care for people that smoke. And health is a basic human right. We don't want an exclusionistic society. We don't want the public to suffer the consequences of these actions, which we will later tell you are not brought about by free will. And we don't want the public to suffer as a whole. And smokers are a percentage of the population. And they do make up the public. And this is public health care. So it's only inherent that we do allow them to have this public health care.

I'll first start with some rebuttal. So we have the opposition here has said that people will be disincentivised because of the money. And we are just telling you that people already are stressed. They're smoking. People don't smoke for no reason, right? So when you have an additional stress of you'll need to pay for your health, now this is just going to make it worse for those people. We had that example with the mother and children. However, if you already smoke and now you know that you need to pay for your health care in the future, that's not going to disincentivise you to smoke. That's just going to add more stress into your life and lead to negative consequences down the line.

They also said that this will disincentivise smokers. That was the main concept of their argument. However, people will smoke anyway. And a lot of people smoke because of stress. And think about it this way. If we limit the public health care system to no one, people will still get injured. And as the first speaker said on the negative team already, people get injured all the time. And it's going to be very hard to monitor who gets injured from smoking and who just smokes and is injured and that doesn't relate to anything. So this removal of the system will just increase stress. And we can't stress this enough. And we also believe that the people that smoke are not smoking for no reason, basically.

So the opposition also says the taxpayers don't want to pay for smokers. And we respond with 2 rebuttals. First one is that the smokers in hospital are reflective of the public. If there are lots of smokers, then there's something deeper than this. This means that people are unhappy. People are smoking for a reason. And there should be other measures to help fix this than just taking away people's health care.

We also say that tax money goes to who knows where anyway. You pay tax so that you can help other people. You're not paying it so it directly comes back to you because then why would you pay tax in the first place. Right? So we're saying that tax payers have to just accept that they're going to be helping other people and that these people need the help in the first place, which is very counterintuitive if we take the health care system away from smokers.

The opposition also says that smokers aren't coerced into smoking. However, we respond that people don't act rationally in the moment. It's a main thing because people are often put in tough situations with peer pressure. And it just doesn't work out that they'd smoke for no reason. There's always something deeper. There's always a deeper meaning.

And we also have much info about vaping. As the opposition said, they said that people have enough information to not make these wrong decisions. However, we do have tonnes of info about vaping, and yet so many people still do it. So we don't see why this would be a reason for people to be disincentivised, as we do have classes about NPHP about why not to smoke, why it's bad for you, but that doesn't make people not act irrationally and they do end up smoking.

So just because people have an understanding of the consequences, this will not mean they'll stop. And this is proven in things such as like even people that get out of gaol. There are lots of re-offenders. They just commit the crime again and they're back in gaol. So we do not see how getting rid of health care will make people smoke any less.

So the opposition also said that health care is a necessity. And they were referring to private health care. However, we still believe-- we agree with this. And we definitely think that health care is a right. That's why we're advocating for smokers to have health care. And as we have already outlined, we have listed many reasons why private health care is unaffordable, inaccessible and will not be a solution to everyone that smokes. So for many people that do smoke, this is just not a solution for them. And we believe that it's harder to rehab people who are in extreme danger and stress from lack of access to health care and who absolutely hate the government because they've just taken away their health care so therefore the benefit of rehab is mutually exclusive to our side of the house.

The opposition also said that if you really want to quit smoking, you should go to rehabilitation services. Firstly, let's face it, this is barely going to work. Secondly, even if they do, what will these people do for the next 10 years of their life without public health care? What if you quit smoking? Are you still going to not be able to access health care? So they'll go broke with private health care or not be able to treat their injuries, which we obviously do not want.

So on to my points, we are suggesting that we do have health care for these smokers because it's public health care so everyone should be able to access it. By the end of my speech, I will have proven to you a few things, firstly, that people can't consent to smoking, at least fully and second, the health care system's purpose is to accommodate for these people, which is why we have a health care system in the first place because people do get injured. People do get illnesses. And there'll also be extreme repercussions for this demographic if this is not helped. So altogether, this just goes to show that people need help and cutting them out of the system is going to put more stress on them. It's not going to disincentivise them to smoke any less. And it's just going to lead to many bad outcomes for them.

So I'd like to first speak about consent. So many people have addictions. And this is complete opposite of consent. You can't just decide, oh, I want to smoke today. I don't want to smoke tomorrow. That's not how it works. Addiction is one of the main reasons we believe that smokers can't fully consent because they can't. It's more than their rational thinking to say I don't want to smoke anymore. You have to do a lot more than that to get out of the cycle. And your brain is wired to feel terrible if you do try and get out of smoking. And they'll just go back to smoking again. So it's addiction. It's not consent.

There is also peer pressure. So if you're around a lot of people and they smoke, you'll feel more inclined to smoke. And it's very hard to say no to people that you trust or your friends that do things like this. So we also believe that this is not full consent because you're being influenced by other people that may think differently to you and then hence addiction, you can't get out of it so it's a very bad situation for you.

And we also believe that then cutting off health care is not going to do anything because it's just going to make your life a lot worse. So even if you think that people have free will, people don't smoke for no reason. We already stressed this. And we say that there is reasons why people are smoking. And so the root problem will not be stopped when we take away health care. It's just going to make people's lives worse.

My second point is that the whole purpose of the health care system is to help people and minimise the harm of people's actions. So the government doesn't control everyone and says you can't drink alcohol. You can't drive a car because it's dangerous. We let people do these things. However, we provide the health care in case they need it. So that's the whole point of the public health care system. And it sounds just so wrong just to say that the public health care system is not for the public because, obviously, it is. It's public. Everyone contributes. And everyone can access it. So the system allows people to take risks, and live their life and have freedom and especially people can do what they want. And if they get injured, then there's something that can help them.

So why should smokers have access to this system? One, the public health care system aims to help people. And as I've already mentioned, these smokers need help. Addiction is not an easy thing to get out of. And health consequences can be often deadly in smoking situations. This is why it's such a big issue. And so I'll say again that if we can help these people, why wouldn't we, you know? We've got the system. We've got the resources. So why would we just limit people? We don't want empty beds. The point of the health care system is to help people.

So summarising my points, I've proven to you that people can't fully consent to smoking because of addiction and stress and difficult circumstances. And the health care system is designed to accommodate for these people. That's why we have it. I've also talked about the fact that there will be repercussions. And this will be extremely bad for smokers. That's why I'm proud to negate. Thank you.


GINA HONG: Thank you, Katherine. Please welcome the third speaker, Emily Phi, to conclude the case for the affirmative.


EMILY PHI: What side negative is really good at is offering a lot of rhetoric. You know what they're not good at? Offering a solution which is completely different to one we already have. They keep telling you all of this sad stuff about, oh, smokers already stressed. But you know what we're doing? We're at least making a forward-looking solution that aims to alleviate some of this stress. So in today's speech, some things. I'm going to break it down into themes and just compare on both sides what we think is actually happening.

So firstly, on my theme of-- I call it sad smoker but I think negative refers to it as coercion-- so this point of coercion. What do people who actually smoke look like? What do we think they look like? Well, we've literally breaken down-- broken down, sorry, what they look like-- what they look like. So we have old people. So they smoke because it was normalised. And we've told you why we don't think our thing's actually going to really affect them that much. We don't think people is going to go on down his Medicare-funded ventilator and buy another cigarette. So that entire group of people is who are more likely to be addicted because it's so normalised, we don't think it's going to really affect them.

We also told you about the middle age and young people and how our policy actually affects them and how it sets a standard, how it creates change which is tangible, which tells you those short term harms, which is such a big harm which we believe that people are more likely to believe. So they told you middle aged people and young people, they're coerced because they don't know because they're from lower SES people and that they're peer-pressured into it.

And what do we tell you? We tell you that, well, we believe that our strategy will actually be more beneficial in affecting those people because our one is forward thinking. It is long term. I'll explain this later but, to be honest, when it really comes down to it, within the next 20, 30 years, yes, people are going to be hurt. But what about the next 50, the next 60, the next 100 when people can look around and smoking is just no longer a thing because there's so much of a disincentive? So they can keep telling you about all of these sad things which I'll talk about really aren't that sad. But, in total, we can tell you just as a whole, as a whole, our model is what will make it forward-looking.

So let's break down what they tell you about coercion, and informed consent and free choice. Ooh. It gets very philosophical. They tell you it's immoral to cut off people's healthcare because they were coerced into buying that cigarette by their circumstances. We tell you that there is going to be an element of coercion in your life. That is how people develop, like your parents, that everything you do, you are a product of your environment, essentially. And that's something we have to accept. But people still go to gaol because they do something bad. But what we're doing is we're going further than just putting you away because you did something bad. We're putting that burden onto you so then you're more likely to go into rehabilitation, which they told us it was mutually exclusive.

We tell you no. There is no reason why rehabilitation can't exist under our side of the house. In fact, we believe it will be arguably a lot more useful because people are more incentivised to go to rehabilitation now that they have that monetary incentive to stop smoking. We also tell you the funding which perhaps goes to health care people like, not so-- goes to patients who suffer from a result of their smoking. We tell you that, yeah, that funding perhaps once going towards a ventilator can now go towards rehab. That shift of funding can also occur. So what do we see under this rehabilitation thing which, again, I'll go into depth more in the future? We believe that under our side of the house, it will exist.

So back onto the coercion thing, they tell you smokers aren't in the right state of mind, that they're peer-pressured, that they're stressed and people act irrationally when they're not on nicotine. So what do we tell you? We tell you, firstly, our model isn't retrospective. We're not really punishing anyone for something they did 10 years ago. It's about making that choice tomorrow about going to the news agency and spending like $60 on a pack of cigarettes because you really felt like you needed it. And we agree that there is an element of addiction here, Yes, but, again, this links back to our rehabilitation point. We believe rehabilitation can exist in our world even more.

So 2, stress exists if you smoke. And the main cause of smoking is stress. We tell you smoking doesn't even fix that root cause of stress and if only it exacerbates it because it makes it worse. Now, you're stressed and now you don't have a cigarette. Of course you're going to be more stressed. What we want to do is sort of work towards a world where people don't have to suffer that additional stress as well as like their financial circumstances. That was always something we were advocating for because like it's pretty intuitive. Like smoking is bad, right? So why should we give cigarettes to people who are stressed? We know that it's bad for them. It will make them more stressed.

So just spoke about the low SES people, and because they rely on public health care and they're already poor because they spent all their money on cigarettes and we're like, yeah, we agree, but there's a couple things to say here. We agree with their characterisation of low SES people relying on public health care and maybe using all their money on cigarettes.

What do we say to that? We say we are not limiting their access to health care. Perhaps we should rephrase it. People are limiting their access to health care by buying cigarettes. It's not really the government saying you can't help health care because we think that you look like a smoker. That just wasn't going to happen, right? To put it-- to be extremely blunt, if you can afford cigarettes, it's likely that you are able to put at least some of that funding towards a different type of health care, so like private health care. And then finally, we believe health care will ultimately improve for low SES people because what do we see on our side of the house?

We see less money going towards people who put themselves into that situation which my first and second speaker have already really broken down like why we believe that they put themselves into that or at least they had an element of knowledge which was critical in making sure that they had some informed consent. So we gave examples of like Healthy Harold. We believe that only people who absolutely have no knowledge and they're completely free from the burden of knowing that you put yourself into a smoker's shoes. It's like anyone over 60. If you're below 60, we believe that there is enough knowledge out there. We believe that there is enough resources, especially in Australia.

So now finally, let's just have a bit of a comparison between what our model does and what it currently looks like, so in the status quo. So we tell you a lot of-- so in the status quo, what does negative tell you? They just tell you like, oh yeah, it's bad but we're OK with it being bad because we just don't want to make it worse. They don't really tell you how we can make it better. What do we tell you? We tell you so many ways which banning smokers from Medicare actually does make the world a better place. So they give this speech about rehabilitation is better than punishment.

They provide some really compelling stuff about we know smokers, they don't just quit overnight. And yeah, that's true. But the thing is under our side of the house where at least under our model, as opposed to the status quo, people have a greater incentive to go to rehabilitation. It was never something that was like exclusive to the status quo. What we're doing is just putting another-- we're encouraging more smokers to go to rehabilitation because we're giving just like such a 10 years' worth of health care. We acknowledge that is a lot but that is what we are advocating for. We need to have this big difference in order to make a big difference in the future. Yeah. So basically, there's no reason rehabilitation can't work under our model.

And then so at the very worst, what happens in our thing? In our thing-- I'm sorry. Not our thing. Under our model, at the very worst, what happens? Within the next 30 years, we have a bunch of smokers who unfortunately have to suffer because they were addicted. Right? So even if you don't believe anything we've told you about how we think people are less likely to smoke when you have this, we think people are more likely to go into rehabilitation because of our model, we believe the main harm which you can derive if you just completely ignore all of that is, within the next 50 years, people die and that just happens.

But what you don't see is the young people, which is the ultimate goal of our thing. Our thing was never really retrospective. It was never about like punishing people who made choices which they couldn't have. It was about that messaging towards the young people of society. It's about setting a preventative measure because we'd rather have a preventative measure which is just really high stakes but really high reward because that is what we want.

For society to progress, we need to have these sort of radical change. So yes, at the very worst, we'll have upset people. We'll have upset taxpayers. You'll have empty hospital beds, which, again, we don't really think that was like a major concern because, as we already talked about, people already access health care. So at the very worst, what do we see? We just see a group of young people who can fully acknowledge the consequences of their smoking, their health care being taken away from them. They can understand that. It is enough. So that is why I'm very, very proud to affirm. Thank you.


GINA HONG: Thank you, Emily. Finally, please welcome the third speaker for the negative, Aradhana Rao, to conclude the debate.


ARADHANA RAO: In this debate, my first speaker has previously proved the effects of addiction. They have proved that addiction is a serious issue with no clear way to escape. Addiction, no matter what you're addicted to, can have serious health effects and can appear in many different forms. I will expand upon these points later in my speech. But before I do, I would like to rebut the opposition's points.

What does the opposition's world look like? Their world has smokers dying of lack of health care. We have people, sorry, continuously to smoke because opposition's disincentives don't differentiate from existing ones overall. This means more death with fewer practical benefits than if you attack the root causes of smoking. The opposition's benefits are contingent on the idea that this actively disincentivises smoking. We have given multiple compelling reasons why they don't, but let's go further.

We believe that the government has already disincentivising smoking as much as it can without infringing on human rights and causing deaths to portions of the population. We believe that smoking as it is in the system of other problems, whether they be quality of living not up to par, society-wide stress, or wealth disparity causing these issues.

We believe that smoking is better handled by attacking the root causes that put people in a position where they want to smoke. The opposition's idea that people can consent hinges on these people making perfectly rational decisions in the moment. We've explained why they don't. These people are stressed and pushed. And these prevent them from adding up the costs of their decisions.

Opposition's disincentives aren't immediate as opposition says they are. They only impact people once. They are put into a dangerous situation. This may be more immediate than current pressures but the day opposition's disincentive is the same as all the other disincentives already present in the smokers.

A long term wealth disincentive that as opposition characterises don't work and don't stop people from smoking. They say the negative side is working towards stopping smoking-- is not working towards stopping smokers. We say that placing a limit on health care will make the problem worse. At least we are minimising harm. They say that we have a long term solution, that we have a solution to this issue. We believe that, one, taking away people's health care is not a solution. Two, rehabilitation is a persuasion on our side-- sorry-- persuasion on our side of the house. Number 3, it's nice to work towards a world in which people don't smoke, but this solution will make people's lives way worse.

The opposition says smoking isn't going to fix your issues with stress. This is true. This is true, making smoking bad. However, do the people buying them know this? No. That's why they bought them. You say that there is more incentive to go to rehabilitation. You've also said that smokers are not thinking long term. If this is true, smokers won't want to go there-- won't want to go to these for long term benefits.

The opposition seems to have no empathy towards smokers. They have explicitly said that the whole situation of smoking is not that bad. Do we really want people with no empathy to make these extreme decisions on our society?

Yes. We agree health care is a principled right to all people. That's why we believe that smokers should have access to it. Private health care is a private system and so the government doesn't oversee it as much as opposition claims. Therefore, we believe that the price of private health care is going to increase under the opposition's model. We also tell you that if prices don't increase, smokers are mostly in a financial situation where paying for private health care-- where they cannot pay for private health care as it isn't accessible for those people and most people in society.

Moving on to my speech, here are the clashes I found in this debate. The first clash is that if this decision-- sorry-- if this decision will overall benefit smokers. The opposition claimed that this will benefit smokers by forcing them to quit as they will not be able to receive public health care. This would not only force many to quit cold turkey instead of it being a gradual process, but this, quote unquote, 'solution' would not work for many as even in today's day, we still see people smoking knowing the consequences so why would that change? Why would smokers stop knowing the repercussions?

We believe that pulling away a public service from one group of people will not benefit them. We believe that the negative won this clash as we have proved that smokers will not be benefited by the opposition's model, as forcing them to quit will only increase the stress and decrease their quality of life.

My second clash is that if smokers are fully in control of their smoking and therefore if they can fully consent. The opposition says that people who smoke are fully aware and fully consent to smoking. But we believe that this is due to peer pressure and outside knowledge put into these people. Yes, many people do smoke on their own will but we do believe that smoking is not part of the full control of an individual. Thus, smoking is not fully consented as they have had other people put things into their mind. Thank you. And I am proud to negate.


GINA HONG: Neva will now deliver the adjudication and announce the results of this debate.


NEVA MIKULIC: Hi, everyone. I want to start by congratulating both of our teams for making it to the state final. This is an incredibly impressive achievement. And the panel thought that, in general, today's debate was quite high quality so congratulations to both of our teams.


Before I get into the adjudication and how the panel saw the debate, I will provide one piece of general feedback to both teams. All of the members of the panel have lots of team feedback if teams would like to reach out after the adjudication.

In terms of general feedback, we thought that while we saw a lot of in-depth characterisation of smoking and why it occurs in this debate, we thought both teams could have benefited from being a little bit clearer and having more unpacked characterisation of some of the other key issues in this debate. So this looks like in each of your arguments explaining to us exactly what the world looks like at the moment and why. And in particular, we thought this applied to arguments about health care, so regarding whether or not the health care system was generally overburdened or not and what the general purpose and function of public health care was, which we thought would have helped to frame a lot of the other arguments, both principle and practical, that are made in this debate.

OK. The panel thought there were 3 issues in this debate. The first is does this disincentivise smoking. The second is how does this impact the health and well-being of smokers. And finally, is it justifiable for the government to withhold this service? Firstly, on does this disincentivise smoking. Affirmative essentially frames a practical benefit of removing smoking as a health harm and the general health consequences and social good associated with the removal of smoking.

I'll note that they frame a lot of their argument about disincentivising people from smoking as a principled argument about consent because they suggest that people currently make rational choices to smoke, that they have a lot of information about why smoking is bad but they still opt into it, and that the reason why this provides an adequate disincentive is because it flips the calculus that they make by suggesting that the financial burdens or the other health harms of it now outweigh their desire to smoke.

What does negative say in response? We think negative proves a couple compelling things. The first thing that negative proves is they explain that people don't necessarily make the decision to smoke in a particularly rational way. So they explain, for instance, that smoking is often addictive and that nicotine is addictive. They explain that people experience a variety of complex life circumstances and stressors in their life which lead them to smoke that aren't necessarily choices that they rationally make, which goes to show that perhaps if this disincentive were to exist, people might not choose to opt into it because they don't choose the ways in which they smoke in particularly irrational ways.

But beyond this, negative says that even if people did have an incentive to quit smoking, it would be particularly hard for them to do so because they say that things like withdrawal or an addiction make smoking difficult to quit. And they suggest that because the punishment is so harsh for smoking that a lot of people won't choose to opt into it because they'll see it as something unachievable that they're not able to do.

So at the end of this first issue on does this disincentivise smoking, we think that the negative is able to explain that smoking is pretty hard to quit and that this won't prove an adequate disincentive. But beyond that, we think that they also show that, in some instances, this exacerbates people's desire to smoke because now it increases their stress levels about not having access to health care.

Onto the second issue in this debate then, which is how does this impact the health and well-being of smokers overall. And the question in this issue is essentially can smokers still access the health care services that they need? Affirmative explains to us that smokers are able to use private health care services in order to address their health care needs. Negative instead argues that this is very hard for people to access for the reason that it's particularly expensive and notably, they have quite an interesting argument about how even if it's not expensive under the status quo, the influx of demand into a variety of private health care services means that providers are likely to raise the cost of those services in particularly harmful ways. And they note that, as a result, this leaves a lot of people stranded from being able to access health care services.

We think this is a generally compelling claim. We think this is especially the case because both teams in this debate agree that it's predominantly low SES people who are likely to be smoking. And those people are most disproportionately harmed by not being able to access this expensive health care.

We'll note here that there is also a miscellaneous claim made about people's capacity to access rehab centres that are able to help them with this change. But we thought, in general, this issue was quite under analysed. We would like more explanation on why people would choose to opt into this rehab, whether it was likely to be effective and where they were engaging with it.

Onto the final issue in this debate then. Is it justifiable for the government to withhold this service? Affirmative essentially says that it's justifiable to withhold this service because people pay taxpayer money that is now unfairly used on this resource and that people opt in to these harms, so it's unfair to allow them to use public services in this way. Negative responds by saying that when people pay tax, they don't necessarily expect that it will directly benefit them. They understand that it's used for the general social utility in society, which is why maybe there's the right to use this tax in this particular way. We also hear some other analogies from negative which we would have liked to have heard developed a little bit more about other things people do in society that are bad for them, say, for example, drinking but we still allow them access to key services as a result of.

We'll also note that affirmative makes a kind of subsidiary claim in this principle where they suggest that perhaps now this will improve government services because there are less people accessing them, which serves to bolster their claim that this is a justifiable way to divide government resources. We thought this argument needed to be characterised far more substantially because we don't think affirmative does sufficient explanation to explain to us why it is that hospital resources are so finite and why this is therefore justifiable, which is an omission in their case that negative exploits when they suggest the alternative is that there won't be enough access to the health care system.

The final observation I'll make on this principled issue is negative makes the point at first negative that it's unfair to allow-- unfair to withhold access to this service in the cases in which people have an injury that's not smoking related but they are still a smoker. So for example, we hear the example of a sprained ankle. We thought this argument could have been developed more because we think this argument suggests that it's maybe principally harmful to do this policy but this argument is not properly brought to fruition by negative. So at the end of this issue of is it justifiable, we're not convinced that it is justifiable for the government to infringe on this policy in this way.

So weighing this debate, we think negative are able to show that this does not adequately function as a disincentive for smoking, which removes the main benefit that affirmative tries to claim in this debate. We think they're able to show that, as a result, this does mean that a lot of smokers won't have access to really expensive private health care services. And we think that there isn't a sufficient argument made about why this is principally justifiable that stands at the end of this debate, which is why the panel awarded this debate to the negative team. So congratulations.


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