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Defining a primary school debating topic – 04. With Ainsley Halbmeijer

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AINSLEY HALBMEIJER: Hey guys, I'm Ainsley. I'm a debater, debated all through primary and high school. And, today we're going to be doing a little workshop on how to do definitions. So, we're going to use the example topic 'that the voting age should be lowered to 16.'

So, I guess the first thing we want to think about, when we're thinking about this topic and breaking down the definition, is what we mean by each of the concepts in this topic. So firstly, voting. We need to think about whether we want to make this topic voting in state elections, federal elections, and sort of make sure we're really clear on what we're talking about, when we talk about voting.

So, for this topic, I think it's relevant to make it about state and federal elections, because it's kind of arbitrary to separate the 2, and especially because, in Australia, we have a system of compulsory voting in all of our elections. So, I think that it's important to be really specific and clear that we're talking about 'that we should lower the voting age in state and federal elections to 16.'

So, I think the second thing we need to think about here is whether we want to make that compulsory or voluntary voting. So, there are 2 different ways of doing this topic. You can either make voting voluntary for people between 16 and 18, or you just go all in, and you go 'we're just going to make it compulsory from 16.'

So, I think there's a couple of pros and cons for both. So, I think if you define the topic as 'the voting age should be voluntary from 16 to 18,' it's easier to make the argument that you're going to be eliminating the kids that don't care, or that are disengaged with politics.

However, you kind of shoot yourself in the foot there. You undercut your arguments then, that you're going to make, about how important it is that we give kids the right to have that vote. So, for me, I think if you're going to make the argument that it's really important that we need kids from 16 to be voting, then you should just make it compulsory from that age.

So, at the end of that little discussion, we've got the definition 'that we should have voting in state and federal elections be compulsory for everyone over the age of 16.' And so, I think that's a pretty clear definition. It tells us all the things we need to know in that topic, and it gives us sort of all of the details that are necessary.

Cool. So, I'm going to do a little intro for this speech now, from a first affirmative point of view. So, I'm going to give a little bit of context, give an introduction, and then deliver this definition that we've workshopped.

Ladies and gentlemen. We live in a world today where it is more and more important that we give a voice to our younger generation. We think that for too long teenagers, from the age of 16 to 18, have been denied a voice in our political system. We don't accept this at all.

We think, especially in a world where we're facing issues of climate change that are going to affect future generations, it is of vital importance that younger people have a say in the way that we make political decisions for our present, but also for our future. To that end, we think that it should be compulsory for everyone, from the age of 16, to participate in voting in state and federal elections.

And there you have it. That was your little introduction and a definition. Bye.


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