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Defining a high school debating topic – 05. With Indigo Crossweller

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INDIGO CROSWELLER: Hi, guys. My name's Indigo. I'm sure I've seen you guys before, but I'm going to chat through a high school definition with you guys today on the topic that we should have a quota for women in parliament.

So, let's talk quickly about context for this debate, because it's not enough just to say there's not 50% of women in parliament, so we need to do something, because the negative team is going to get up and they're going to explain why they can increase the number of women in parliament in different ways without a quota. So, your context needs to be reasons why there aren't enough women in parliament for reasons that aren't changing on their own or aren't changing organically. So, that could be something like the context being - there are so few women in parliament that it makes it virtually impossible to increase that number, because the men who are currently in parliament keep supporting the kids that they went to their boys high school with or their mates from university. And all of those people are also men, and that means that only other men are being supported in future elections. So, we need to do something structural and foundational to mean that more women will definitely get a chance to be in parliament.

See how I'm explaining there not only that there aren't enough women in parliament now, but I'm explaining why that isn't going to naturally change. So, we have to do something like a quota to increase the number of women. So, that's the context. Let's deal with the definition now.

So, maybe if you guys want to have a crack at coming up with your own definition and pause me now and have a go. Because there are lots of different ways you can define this topic. So, pause the video, have a go at coming up with your own definition, and see how closely it matches with mine.

So, now that you've come up with your own definition for this topic, let's chat through what I think is the best option. So, the first thing that we want to talk about is where would this quota come into play. We would say, well, Australian parliament has lots of different levels. I'm sure you've learnt about this in school. But generally, you would want to say we would reserve, we would ideally want 50% of women in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. So, all levels of parliament, we would want 50% of women to be represented.

So, the next question is, how do you make that change happen, or on what level is this quota going to be introduced? And this is where our definitions are likely to differ. It's important to remember that there is no one correct way to implement this quota. All of the different options I'm going to give you can be right and you can argue and win the debate on any of them.

The most obvious one which people often go with is that there'll be a hard quota for 50% of women in the Senate and in the House of Representatives, and 50% of those seats have to be women. The reason why that's not the best option is that that is far too difficult to stand behind. And when the negative team says things like, well, there's not even 50% of women who are running for those seats, there are arguments about why might mean that women who don't really want to be there or who aren't the best candidates will get into that job.

It's a little bit too hard line for this debate, and it means that your burden to stand behind is much bigger. Because you either have to say we want 50% and it doesn't matter who those women are, they just have to be women do be in there, and you have to explain why that is still a good thing. Or you have to explain why just implementing this quota means, all of a sudden, 50% of the people who want to be politicians will be women. Both of those things are quite hard to explain and are likely to suck up a bit of time, so we don't think that's the best option for the definition.

Then there's a second option, which is to say, well, we would say that in every single electorate, which is the kind of small area that you're within that you vote for one seat in parliament, we would say, well, within your electorate, 50% of the candidates have to be women. And you could stand behind that as an option, because you could say the quota being on that level might not mean that 50% of the women in parliament are women, 50% of the people in parliament are women, but it does guarantee that at least women are likely to be more represented, because there's more options to vote for a woman.

But the reason why we don't think that is an ideal definition is that that is also quite hard to police and it's quite hard to stand behind. So, for example, in some electorates, there might be no woman who really wants to stand up as candidate, so it would mean that people would have to be forced into standing up to it in order to just fill that quota. And that lends weight to the negative team's argument about not getting in the best candidate and just forcing women into a position that they don't really want.

So, then the third kind of definition that you can do in this debate, which I think is the most effective one, is to implement a party based quota. Which is to say that the three or four major parties within Australia. So, parties like the liberal party, the labour party, the greens, and the nationals, would all have to have a 50% quota of their candidates in an election. So, that would mean that in every kind of, across a whole election, whether it is a state election or a federal election, whether it is for seats in the House of Representatives or for the senate, those parties would have to have 50% of the candidates that they're putting up be women. And the reason why this is the most effective definition for this debate is that it is the easiest to stand behind, because you can say things like, even if that individual woman would not have otherwise run, she now has the support of the party behind her, because they know they have to fill that quota. But also, it is easier to police, because it's easier for people to, instead of going through every electorate or looking at the whole of parliament and forcing people into those seats to fill a quota there, it is easier for us to look at the candidates put up by the labour party, for example, and say, no, you need more women to fill up the 50% quota, so you'll need to put in women as your candidates in these seats which haven't been decided.

So, it's easier to police on a party level. They're likely to be more supported. But also, you're likely to get better candidates, because it will be women who already exist within that political sphere who the party chooses to push forward and support. So, it's likely that they're going to be more likely want to be there, have more experience, and you're going to better be able to deal with the negative team's argument about candidates not being the best option.

So, the last question that you want to answer in defining is, at what point will we bring this quota in? Because obviously, it's impossible for us to say, well tomorrow, we're going to kick out all of the old white men and 50% of them will now be women. Because what women are you putting in there? They haven't been voted in. So, the obvious answer is, in the next electoral cycle, so whatever the next big election is that people vote in, at that point, we will introduce a 50% quota.

Don't stress if your version of the definition was different to mine, because I've run the debate based on having a quota for women in the Senate, I've run the debate based on having every electorate having to have 50% women, and you really can win under any kind of definition. You just set up more work for yourself if you have a harder line quota than if you do something like a party based system.

OK. So, I'm going to give the first 1 minute of the first affirmative speech as if I was in this debate, doing both the context and the definition. So -

There are significant barriers facing women and female representation in parliament. Those barriers aren't just that they're not being elected, it's that they're not encouraged to put themselves up for election, because currently, the swaths of men in parliament only support their male friends from high school and from university, which means that women are not getting the kind of support that they need from the party and from other MPs when they do put themselves up for election. But aside from that, they don't feel encouraged enough to even make that first step and run as a candidate.

It's important that we increase this representation, because when women and young women see role models of other female representation in parliament, they're much more likely to put themselves up for election and get involved with politics later. That is significant. The current barriers are not changing. We have to put in something like a quota to ensure and guarantee that this level of representation improves.

So, what do we support today? We support, in every electoral system, in terms of both state and federal elections for both the House of Representatives and the Senate, we would increase and implement a quota of 50% women.

What quota system would that be? We do not support a quota that is 50% of seats reserved for women, because we think there are lots of difficulty to that. Instead, we prefer a system of a 50% quota based on parties. So, all of the parties will have to have 50% of their candidates be female in any election system.

This change obviously can't happen tomorrow, because we can't kick out all of the old men in parliament and force a bunch of women in. Instead, we'll wait until the next electoral cycles so that in the next election, those parties have to ensure that 50% of their candidates are women.

Cool. I hope you guys found that definition and context somewhat useful. That is a difficult debate to do a definition for. Don't feel bad if you had something different to me. You can really stand behind a lot of different forms of quota systems in this debate. But that's the one that we think is the most effective and most likely going to help the affirmative team the most out in that debate.

So, I'm sure I'll speak to you guys soon. Enjoy the rest of debating today.


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