Video transcript
World’s Biggest Debate 2021 – Years 7 and 8 grand final

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TONY DAVEY: So welcome to this debate between Rose Bay Secondary College who are taking the affirmative today and Smiths Hill High School who are taking the negative. And the topic for today's debate is that the government should censor misleading information on social media during a pandemic.

The speaking time today is going to be 6 minutes. You're going to see a clock appear beside me. And that clock is going to turn green at 4 minutes. Then it will turn orange at 6 minutes. And then it will turn red if you reach 7 minutes at which point you'll also need to be quiet because that is our final cut off.

All right. So best of luck to both teams. I'm really looking forward to it. I'm going to call upon our very first speaker from the affirmative at Rose Bay Secondary College to come forward, unmute, and kick us off for the debate. Yeah, Rose Bay.


EDEN ZILKA: There is a main issue in today's society, a vast amount of misleading information is being shared to the public regarding pandemics, in particular, COVID-19. Not only is this compromising citizens health, but it is also creating difficulty with governments in terms of controlling situation. We define today's topic as any pandemic-related information that is shared by unofficial accounts, individuals, or unreliable sources from worldwide on social media.

This will be made unavailable to Australian citizens. Our model does not present anyone from posting. It merely disables Australian citizens from viewing such posts. We understand there may still be ways for false information to spread. However, we believe our model largely eliminates the risks. These changes will be made to Australia wide, and will beginning in 2022.

My team will break down into these main arguments. So my first speaker, I will be talking about the risks associated with the current situation and the dangers that are occurring currently without this important role. And my second speaker will be talking about the government censoring posts and information-- with the government censoring posts and information. We will see positive outcomes in the sense that society will be more easy control and less likely to spread out of hand.

Now, on to my substantive. Main issue that society faces is that the fact that different and false information can lead to unsafe situations or unsafe outcomes. This was evident with the vaccination status. We did hear on social media platforms false information about vaccinations giving you autism or other disabilities or making you sick. And as from those posts, we have seen negative outcomes.

You hear people don't feel comfortable getting vaccinated, and ultimately we've had two different sides this whole situation. So arguments like this about vaccinations lead to obviously negative effects not only in real life, but also in people's health because now, not everyone is getting vaccinated, which ultimately makes everyone unsafe and was a very negative effect about the whole pandemic and in specific, COVID situation.

Another example is false COVID numbers when we were in COVID or any pandemic. When we'd have different numbers given different days, this would lead to misconceptions about lockdowns, about restrictions, and ultimately gave everyone a different idea of where we were standing in the pandemic.

We believe that the opposition will say the sort of idea of freedom of choice everyone can post what they want, no one should be blocked if they think that a certain topic, they think they should voice their opinion, they should have the idea. And to this, we have two points of rebuttal, the first being that freedom of choice comes to the extent of keeping everyone safe.

Even though people may be able to spread information on their behalf, if it is incorrect, it may lead to serious issues such as not everyone getting vaccinated or having a different views on other's safety. And secondly being, as I said before, people can post whatever they want. We're not stopping this, but we will be blocking Australians from viewing uncensored information from untrusted websites or seeing people posting information that hasn't been yet regarded as true.

The point of this rule is to get a clear outcome and ultimately have the pandemic come to an end. The freedom of choice argument comes down to the fact that we all want the same outcome, we all want pandemics to stop. We just are going at it in a different way. We're being unclear. It doesn't matter if you're anti-vax or anti-lockdown, the principles stay the same. Ultimately, everyone does want to get to the end of this pandemic. We just are preaching at a different angle.

And spreading unclear false information just leaves a longer lasting pandemic to ultimately not get the result that both of us want. So we need to realise that it doesn't matter where you're coming from, we all have the same idea in the end. So having different people spreading information on social media, that can lead to misconceptions and ultimately affect everyone's safety, which keeps the pandemics lasting.

Now onto my second piece of substantive. In today's society, we have just come out of a 13-week lockdown. And evidently, case numbers did reach a peak because of false information and misconceptions such as, if we thought there was less cases, people would not feel obliged to stay in their house. They would be like, you know, there's less cases, it's safer for me to go outside. However, in reality, this was not true and there were more case numbers, meaning we did get to a significant amount.

So without this rule, the majority of people in Australia will be affected due to different views and minimal government regulation. If we don't have this rule in place, people won't be getting the safety that they need and what the government has promised them. It is unsafe to let people be exposed to all of these social media posts and influencers when really, we need to be hearing the information from the government who is it's their job to protect us.

So case numbers were climbing. And to this, we saw anti-lockdown protests, anti-vaccinaters, and lots of different articles and social media posts regarding different concepts to the pandemic. To this new rule we bring, we'll eliminate uncontrolled protests and the division of society. We believe that the negative team will argue about how the status quo is working completely fine and we don't need to change anything. And ultimately, it is just too much of an effort to change this, to change the status quo.

And to this, we have two points of rebuttal. First, as we said before, we did see changes that negatively affected us such as, as I said before, protests or misconceptions and misleading data such as vaccination ideas and different concepts of what's actually going on. And secondly, the extent of some people in our society. Yes, not everyone may be affected at the current status quo and everyone is looking [inaudible] everyone is being affected.

But since you say, even though not everyone is exposed to social media posts or articles and not everyone is faced with these articles, but that doesn't mean we have to completely disregard this issue about false information on social media. Just because minority people aren't being influenced by those posts does not mean we should disregard it and move on.

We still need to make the choice for the majority of society. We believe that even if a small amount of people are fine with the current status quo, we have to think about the majority. And this government censoring rule enhances the status quo to not only suit a minority but to suit everyone like it will in the future.

The purpose of the government is to ensure that the society is kept safe and not exposed to the information. This has the potential to dangerously affect them. And as proven by COVID-19, the most positive outcomes is spread by disregarding and blocking false information and focusing on government regulations.

By following these steps, we resolve the issue to misleading information that can lead to unsafe situations or dangerous outcomes. So ultimately, looking through the negative factors that will be eliminated by implementing this rule, the affirmative team believes that the government must sensor misleading information on a pandemic on social media. Thank you.


ABBEY ZUBOVIC: Before I start my case, I'd like to add some thoughts. So the affirmative didn't define what social media is. So we're going to define it as things like Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat. We're not going to define this as things like email, WhatsApp, or direct messaging apps. So the affirmative team, they came out and they'll say things like, this censorship is going to stop misinformation around [inaudible], going help to reduce protests and everything.

However, we see that realistically that this will further enrage or push people on the edge about these issues to be more against the government, more distrust towards the government, and more upset or worried by the censorship censorship, which is rightly so. They are more likely to go underground in places where we cannot regulate or watch this sort of information.

It's not like this information is just going to suddenly disappear because they're not on Instagram. People are still going to find a way. They're still going to mistrust because people are going to be even more worried about now that the government is trying to crack down on them. They're not going to trust the government.

And so at least in the status quo, if these people are so dead against them, they're not going to believe anything. They're still other alternatives to get information like just because-- we're in [inaudible] the only source thing is the government. And if people are dead set against us just because there's censorship now, we're not going to listen to anything even more people against it and an even larger uptake.

And so they also said something like how it's like people being misfed information, like less cases and things like that. We're going to see that in our model-- I'll later characterise why this-- the government is actually-- government being in charge of information it's going to be more.

Anyway, onto my point. So we see that in the status quo throughout this pandemic, the government has again and again ignored the medical professionals to benefit of themselves and the economy. The government doesn't always take the right course of action. For example, this would be like refusing to lock down when we had that side of the Delta outbreak because they were worried about the economy, even though it caused even more detrimental effects later on.

Those are things-- like, politicians like Trump spreading wild misinformation. Things like injecting bleach. Well, let's call it the China virus, which has caused all this Asian hate and stuff, which is obviously bad. But now, when they've already messed up this stuff, given us wrong information again and again, the government now has the ability to censor anything it deems it does not like or agree with.

This will include information about the severity of something. For example, we have a doctor, a local doctor in an emerging outbreak. They can see that this thing needs to take more action, but the government is refusing because they are worried they don't want to lockdown because economic reasons or whatever.

The government, this document here might take the social media step telling the local community, hey, guys, it's time to stop wearing masks. This is getting quite serious. The government is going, no, we don't want that sort of information being around because then people are worried and we need to actually take action. They don't want to do that. So things like that will be censored.

We also see things surrounding things like foreign vaccines because like the government doesn't want people taking other vaccines that are produced in other countries because they want us to take the ones they might be producing that they can profit off. This might lead to things like a longer delay in getting more vaccines because we're not willing to take ones from other ones. So they can sensor information around that.

They can also just censor different opinions that they don't necessarily agree with, but aren't like trying to coerce people into things. So this is basically censorship on the China sort of level where anything you disagree with, like, just straight away instead of trying to educate people why, you just ban it, which is quite suspicious and raises a lot more distrust against the government.

Anyway, yeah. I also like to point out the types of people who would probably be having with these sort of things. So like with the apps model, you're going to have the people who are listening to information anyway, then they're not going to have too much effect. But people who might be on the fence about like anti-vax or misinformation things who are a little bit unsure of the government because there's more distrust around them.

The government will now force them over the edge because, like I said before, the censorship and how this will-- And it also creates a more polar divide in our society about these views, which creates even further divide mistrust and tension between different groups, which you ultimately don't want. And for these reasons, I'm proud to negate.


GABRIEL FOO: Before I begin my case, I would like to point out the flaws in the negative team's case. The other teams stated that change will make people angry. This is incorrect. We saw no reason as to why this would anger people. And the negative did not state why. This change is to positively affect people, to not make them confused and angry.

The other team also stated that people are against government and the government takes wrong course of action. We are not proposing that the government is the only source of info. There are news, legitimate organisations, both sides of political opinion and there are other sources of information.

The other team used Donald Trump as an example. They stated how Trump makes bad decisions. We clearly stated in our definition this is Australia-wide. Government just ban-- they also stated that the government ban opinions that are good but they don't educate the people. However, the government already informs the people in government websites and other news platforms.

Now, onto my case. Censoring misleading information on a pandemic will greatly impact the ability the government has to control such pandemics. Not only will citizens be gaining the same information causing less confusion on the pandemic in general, but this change will also indirectly affect the government's control on case numbers and the spread of the disease.

Having consistency in the information shared about a pandemic will lead to much less debate and confusion around what is correct. Citizens will be largely on the same page and will therefore be much more likely to comply to government restrictions such as lockdowns. Furthermore, statistics such as case numbers and vaccine rates will not have to compete with the vast amount of misleading information and will therefore be much more accessible to the public.

This is important because controlling a pandemic is a necessity for Australia as a country. An example of how misleading information has negatively affected our country is when recently because of misleading information about COVID-19 which are spread on social media platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, et cetera, people started to doubt the safety of the vaccine and their trust in Australian government.

This led to anti-vaccine protests in the city. And these anti-vaccine protests spread misleading news to more people resulting in more people protesting and more people confused. This also influenced more people to not take vaccines, which results in social unrest and unimmunized communities. Furthermore, as my first speaker explained, all this protest is unnecessary as it is based on false conception, which can be easily eliminated with our model.

Therefore, our model will help the government to control lockdown, eliminate false conceptions, and help the Australian population to vaccinate ending the pandemic faster benefiting everyone. These factors combined, it is clear that implementing this change will make controlling pandemics a much easier process for the government. Thank you.


OTTO BENNETT: So the affirmative team came out and said some things we don't agree with on the negative side, which is that they said we saw no reason as to why people will get angry. We strongly disagree with this because we see the very nature of infringing the human right to freedom of knowledge will make many people angry.

I'll speak about this later in my substantive. But a lot of people who aren't already on the best page with the government, as our first speaker said, will make this turn them towards liking the government less as I'll--

They also said the government will do the right thing. We see that history proves this wrong. For example, Trump is a good example because it is an example of just how someone spreading misinformation in power will make perhaps arbitrary unnecessary decisions and misinformation within the government themselves, which I'll also talk about later.

They also said that this is good. So all citizens are on the same page because all the news comes from the same source. We think this won't be as good because a more rounded holistic approach to people having opinions and stuff like this is generally better. And we also see that it won't completely erase misinformation as I'll talk about later.

They also said people will be very likely to apply because this is still ensuring that people think the government is good. And as I've already said, the government will very-- sorry. They said only a small amount of people are against the status quo. We see this as untrue as most people are mostly informed. But the government misleading the informed people would be a large net loss for the people who would be OK under the status quo, which I'll also talk about in my speech.

So in the COVID pandemic, we saw it took ages for the government to get and accept correct medical info and to receive vaccines. In this period of time under [inaudible] model, which is the most dangerous period of time in a pandemic, we see that the government will generally do one of three things.

One is that the government sensors nothing because they don't know what the correct information is. If this does happen, the [inaudible] model is useless because they're not using this power they've been given with the model. But we also think this won't happen because the government would be incredibly unlikely to censor this information, because they'll most likely see all of it as fake. Because if they didn't know the answer, no one knows the answers.

And so the second option is that they will just erase all information they can which will lead a lot of people to continue as normal or create more backlash for the people who have everything removed. The people continuing as normal, both these two things will generally won't effect because the people are continuing as normal.

But the most likely approach, which we have seen recently and historically, is that the government will use this power to create-- arbitrarily [inaudible] facts based on nothing, which is incredibly dangerous. Because when they get arbitrary decisions based as facts-- yeah. Yeah. It'll cause-- it can cause a lot of danger to one of two types of people, which is the people who trust the government and the status quo, and-- which we see them as the majority. Because a lot of people trust the government.

We see this as evidence, because there are lots of vaccinations. The government said, everyone should get vaccinations. A lot of people got this vacc-- got vaccinated, which is that-- which is this informed amount of people who trust the government.

These people would be willing to do any-- would most likely to be willing to do any misinformed strategy the government has given out to suppress this pandemic, which will-- which these things will not work. And these people either become incredibly angry and join the second group of people, which are people who don't trust the government, or these people will be very sick and perish, which is really bad, obviously. This second group of people who don't trust the government is the group we see getting incredibly angry for the infringement of rights.

And also, it's like adding salt to a wound. Because these people will maybe even have to go with the government's information, because the government they have decided to trust will be bad. We think that a large amount of people becoming to distrust the government is not a good way to start a pandemic, and it is not a good way to control the pandemic as the AF have tried to say it would happen.

OK. They also said that-- yeah. Yes. We also think that the affirmative's categorization of the government isn't exactly right. And there are more examples to prove this.

For example, the Delta lockdown, or the China virus things that happened, or the bleach injection, these are all very good examples for-- that trusting medical professionals isn't always an option at the beginning. And before this information is out, they won't do it. Even if they do get this information right away, it's a very high chance that they won't take it. There's also many reasons to believe the government would censor info. Because the vaccines, they can make a profit. And they can suppress information in that thing.

But this is still generally worse off in the AF's model, because this will make a group of people-- a larger group of people who will become angry and add the salt into wounds because they have been-- lost rights. And yeah. Thank you.


STUDENT: So we think there have been two main arguments in today's debate that we can see. So the first one is, how is this change going to affect the actual COVID situation or the pandemic that we are talking about? Is it going to increase cases? Is it going to decrease cases? How is that going to play out?

And the second argument that [inaudible] is how is this change going to affect society? How is it going to affect the attitude that society has towards this change, whether there's going to be more backlash or less backlash, and how that one is going to play out. So onto the first argument, which is how is this change going to affect COVID.

So first affirmative, we said that this sh-- the current-- having all this misleading information is compromising other's safety, because we're spreading around this misinformation that may be false about cases, or it might be about whether to lockdown. And it's putting a lot of people at risk if they're willingly believing this false information that may affect their safety. And we thought that whether there may have been a freedom of choice issue, it's completely overrided because it is affecting their safety. And we didn't actually hear a response to this point, so we think that still stands.

We-- the negative also talked about how if the government doesn't know the right answers to this-- to the questions that society has, then we're not going to get any information at all, which is worse. And that will affect COVID worse. We don't think this is completely correct, because number 1, we never stated that the only source of information would be the government.

We have said multiple times that it can be from news sources, both from all political opinions. We are only preventing individuals and untrusted sources from sharing information that is blatantly wrong. Sources such as news, credited social media sites like the impact site on social media. These platforms are all still allowed to share COVID information. And so we don't think it's completely relevant that if the government doesn't have an answer, that no one will. Because we've said multiple times we are not just getting our information from the government.

So that was really all we saw on the actual COVID side of this debate. And we can see that while there may be a smaller amount of information, it's going to be a lot more correct. It's going to be a lot more concise.

It's going to create a lot more clarity within the citizens of Australia on what's happening with the COVID situation. And that in turn is going to affect how many cases there are, whether people are going to be complying with lockdowns. And it's overall going to have a really positive impact on society.

Which goes on to the second, more substantial argument that we saw in the debate, is how is this change going to affect the community and the attitude around this change? So at second affirmative, we said that this change was going to make things a lot more easy to control in terms of having the one-- a consistent source of information. Having it be clear on society it will decrease numbers, it will decrease things such as the lockdown protests that we saw earlier this year.

And we just-- we didn't-- the other team to this stated that people are against the government. This change is going to actually make people more against the government, and that the courses of action that the government takes are wrong. We didn't see how this directly negated our point in general.

But also again, we are not proposing that the government is the only source of the info. We have stated so many times that we are going to have multiple sources of information coming through. So we think that when the negative team tells us that everyone is against the government, and then later that everyone is for the government, we don't really think it adds up.

We also heard from the other team that there's going to be a lot of anger at this change, and that people are having their freedom infringed upon. To this we have two points. Number 1, we are not taking away anyone's freedom.

Everyone still has the right to read multiple sources. They still have the right to-- they still legitimately have the right to do whatever they want, in terms of whether they're going out, or whatever. But also, we do think that in terms of COVID, as we said at first, safety is more important here.

Things such as the lockdowns, that was not a matter of freedom of choice. You have to stay in lockdown. That was the law. And we think that was the right course of action because that decreased the COVID numbers and it saved a lot of lives.

So here, we're thinking the same thing. This is going to actually impact everyone's health positively. And so we don't think that while there may be a small amount of freedom taken away, we really think that overrides. Because people are going to be healthy and safe.

They also talked about freedom of knowledge and that people have the right to view what they want. And we completely agree. We think that yes, you should have the right to look at what you want. And so we're not taking this away.

The only thing we're taking away is completely false information. But there is still going to be a wide range of information that you can. No one is stopping you from looking at social media. There's just not going to be as much information on social media. But the things that are up there are correct, and they're safe for viewers to read and take in.

The other team also told us that the status quo is good, and we don't really need to change anything because everything seems to be working. We have a number of problems with this. Number 1, there are many sources of evidence that the status quo is not working.

Earlier in the year we saw violent protests in Sydney against lockdowns, which caused many cases, and actually caused us to be in lockdown longer. We've also seen a lot of dangerous, aggressive anti-vaccination policies, and-- which is not only negatively affecting their health, but also damage to property was seen at these protests. There was a lot of chaos in terms of the whole COVID situation that happened earlier this year.

And in general, the status quo is not OK if we have hundreds of cases. Just a couple of weeks ago we were facing deaths and hospital visits and thousands of cases per day. And I don't think that in any way that warrants a good, safe status quo.

We think our change is going to number 1, positively impact the safety. Number 2, we're not going to see that-- as much backlash as the negative [inaudible] is trying to tell us. And also, it's-- we don't think that the status quo was OK at all.

We also said that this would make things a lot easier for the government to control COVID so that we would see cases decreasing. And to this we heard that again there was going to be more backlash, and then that somehow was going to also create more COVID cases. We don't completely see the sense in this.

But also, people who have been causing-- who they are proposing will cause the backlash are people such as anti-vaccination people, people who have been protesting against the lockdown. People who don't necessarily agree with the government. Now, number 1, these people were already causing issues in the midst of COVID. These people were the people protesting the lockdowns and not obliging with the government restrictions.

But also-- so there's going to be backlash either way. But also, once we stopped the flow of negative and misinformation that's coming, a lot of these people will lose their fuel and the reasons for why they're doing these things. And we actually think it will eventually cause a dramatic decrease in backlash and anger against the government.

So at the end of this one, we can ultimately see, well, yes there may be a little bit of freedom being taken away. However, it is not much at all. We think the safety of people completely overrides this. And overall, we have had [inaudible].


WILLIAM BROWN: So the opposition has come out today with a model that will not really help the situation that we are trying to debate today. This will make it even worse, as we can see. So the third AF came out with two main themes. Will this affect COVID, and will this affect society?

We agree with those. And I'm going to talk about those themes as well. But before I do that, I'd like to talk about another little thing I saw, which the AF didn't really respond to, which we think is really important in this debate. And that is which-- whether the government is good or bad. Whether the government will make the right decisions, or whether they won't.

So the affirmative, basically their whole case was that-- on this sort of topic was that it's the government's duty to protect people, and it's in the government's best interest to do the right thing for these people and put out the right information. We have a number of points to rebut why we think the government is bad and our characterization of the government. So firstly, we came out with our characterization of the government, which is that they are lacking integrity, and they are internally corrupt, as we have seen through many examples in society.

For instance, we have just recently the labour sexual abuse scandal that was happening there. We also see things such as we-- up until recently, we had anti-vaxxers in parliament, and many other things like that. We also see that often they get their priorities wrong during these pandemics, during these things, such as when they constantly ignored the medical advice given by medical professionals on a panel that they put together. This, our federal government, put this panel together, then constantly ignored the health and safety concerns of the people of Australia for the one point of the economy. For instance, during the Delta lockdown.

Also, what we see is that often governments and figures, politicians within government, are totally wrong. So we came out saying with an example, for instance, Mr. Trump when he was still president saying things such as that you should inject bleach into your body to stop the virus. The affirmative came out and rebutted this. We think that doesn't matter, because it's just an example that applies to all over the world.

So we think that for those reasons, the government is bad. We also stated that there are-- in many instances-- for instance, the first I'd say at least a year of a pandemic, where we do not have all the information, we don't have a vaccine yet, as seen within the COVID pandemic, it took at least a year for us to get a vaccine. And that process was pushed and rushed.

So we see that the government won't have all this information, and will therefore-- as we stated, there'll be three things they'll either do. They will either censor all information, which is bad, because now no one has any idea of what's going on. They'll censor no information, which means that the AF's model is absolutely useless with the detriments that they have. Or they will pick and choose information to censor, or pull fact based on nothing, based on a whim, which we think is even more detrimental to the types of people that we have, which are people who are pro-government and will do whatever the government says, which will be detrimental to their health, because they could be injecting bleach into their arms, or--

But again, this doesn't affect our anti-government people, because we know that they're not going to-- no matter what happens, they're not going to listen to the government, and they're still going to be protesting. So I guess the-- yeah. So next, onto the theme of will this affect people.

Now, I think our big-- in our case, our big point here was that people's-- will people's rights be infringed? This is infraction of one of the most basic human rights. Yet, the AF came out and said, well, they can still read sources. I think that [inaudible] entirely wrong.

We're not necessarily talking about reading and taking in information. We're talking about being able to spread someone's opinion in a way that is not coercing body else. We see that the government is likely, as we've just-- as we have proven throughout this debate without-- with little rebuttal from the affirmative, the government is bad. They're going to-- they are corrupt, and they're going to censor information that is just opinion. That is fact-- that is fact from things-- for instance, from foreign vaccines.

Because of course, they have to buy those vaccines. Those vaccines are expensive. So why would they show information about those vaccines when they can just sort of hush it up and then use the vaccines that they're creating? And different opinions that are not coercive.

So we see that definitely the government will make the wrong decision here and will mislead the people who believe the government, and will not affect the people who don't. What we also see is that the AF totally mischaracterizes the amount of people who will not be affected by them, no matter what-- which is the people who already know the right information, read the right news, and already believe the information being put out by the government. And we see that this will not change, because it's not actually the information that the government is putting out that will change. It's the information that they're censoring.

So what we see is that is at least-- we would say that that is at least 50% of the vaccinated population, as these people are willfully getting vaccinated. So that is a lot of people in Australia. So finally, we see-- on the topic of does this affect COVID rates, now, right off the bat, this is the main part of what AF is saying.

So they're saying that because people now have the right information, they will make the right choices, and will get vaccinated and will do the right things. So basically, through throughout this debate, as I've kept on mentioning, the affirmative does not define-- they do not characterise in-depth why the government is good, why the government is going to be making the right decisions. Sure, they will make some. But they will also make some horrible, bad decisions.

So we see that that-- it means that all the benefits that the affirmative was trying to declare will not happen. A few, maybe. We may have a few more people getting vaccinated. But during this, we see that there will be no decrease in lockdown protests, because there are still going to be-- the people who are anti-government will not be affected and will not convert with this model.

They'll probably be even more angry that their rights are being infracted. We will see that-- we will see that many people will still-- so we see that these people who are going to be reading this information, who weren't and now are, is very small. Because not many people will be affected by this model. As we said, there are people who are already against it, and there are many people who just won't be affected. And it's for these reasons, the corruption of the government and the fact that this model does not affect as many people as the AF is trying to get you to believe, that I'm proud to negate.


JAMES SMITH: OK, hopefully everyone can hear me now. I just wanted to say on behalf of the panel, that we thought this debate was quite close. And it was obviously a really relevant debate, based on the context that we're all in at the moment. And it was like well-contested by both sides.

There are a couple of things that we would just say, as all adjudicators would. We think that at times, this debate lacked a little bit of nuance, a little bit of detail. We think there were parts of this debate that were a little bit under-cooked, and we think that there were quite important parts in this debate.

One of those things that we think could have been spent a little bit more time on was things like a real articulation of what news actually looked like, a real description about how those things played out. And instead of focusing on these angry, resentful people, a little bit more of a focus on things like the vaccine hesitant. A little bit more of a focus on what social media looks like.

Not just in its Trumpian style, but what social media looks like in its general style. And we thought that would take this debate away from what we call the margins, that is the fringes, even though we were discussing the fringe to some extent in this debate. We just-- we do think that it's important to make sure that when we're analysing policy, we're analysing it from the majority, rather than the minority in most cases.

We also thought that on the whole, there was some good responsiveness in this debate. But we think that we at times struggled to take each other at their best. We think to some extent, that was the product of pre-empting material or assuming that there were going to be arguments in this debate that probably didn't actually occur.

So three things that we are going to talk about in the adjudication. The first one was just the context of the debate and the principles that both teams kind of stood for. The second was who would actually promote information under the affirmative's model, and what would their motivations be. And the third was looking at what kind of impacts this would have on society.

So basically, Tim affirmative gets up quite strongly at first and says something that was really important in this debate, which is they say there's a unifying principle here. That is that all people kind of want the pandemic to stop. That no one is particularly enjoying it.

That everyone is actually slightly anti-lockdown, and that we're all on the same page and singing from the same song sheet there. We thought that was a very clever, strategic move in this debate for a setup purpose. They tell us that on the affirmative, the status quo gets worse if there are more people with cases. And that it's never-improving unless people are able to make rational decisions.

Some of the reasoning they give us is that case numbers basically reach a peak when there's a false sense of safety that is spread through the propagation of fake news. So they just say people don't know what to do, and so they struggle to make the most rational decision possible. The really good analysis in this comes from first affirmative, where they take-- they're targeting people with this news that don't feel comfortable about getting vaccinated. That is the vaccine hesitant.

I think that this-- or we thought as a panel that they kind of fell out of the debate a little bit too much, and we think that they probably should have been targeted a little bit more. But the material, nevertheless, stood from the affirmative when they opened like that in context. The negative come out swinging and basically say, look, we think this is a form of censorship.

We think that misintrodu-- misinformation-- or the reduction of information on things like social media causes a sense of distrust with the government. We thought that's probably what they were going to say on the negative. What we didn't hear too much about was why there was a particular sense of distrust.

It was a little bit assertive from team negative when they came out and told us that people automatically distrust the government when they do this. We would have liked the negative to kind of articulate when social media channels would have been shut down, and how that actually would have looked like in order to make people feel the most aggrieved possible. Also, they came to-- they tell us that when this happens, this is going to go and shift information underground. It's less likely to be regulated. It won't disappear.

All this material comes out at first. And what we needed to hear from the negative here was probably some of those channels, and what those channels look like, and how underground material manifests itself, or why it actually strengthens those beliefs. One of the big reasons they did give us was to say that the only option under the affirmative's model is government news, and that people will not listen to that.

We needed to hear more about that type of government news, why people would distrust it. Because second affirmative comes out straight away and says, look, we do think that the news channels still exist. We think that as a panel here, this is where the debate kind of loses its way a little bit, when we talk about people too much. And we don't normally say that.

But when we talk about people too much and their motivations, without giving them reasons for those motivations to actually exist, we think that was a mistake. We think both teams needed to, in this next part of the debate, talk about what mainstream media was motivated by, who would promote information, and what were their general motivations. The affirmative comes out with a nice, simple phrase, which is there's multiple sources, there's the news.

Sure, there will be less they can see, that third affirmative. But they say that it's going to be more factual. They're going to say less-dodgy social media channels, like something referred to as the impact channel.

We think that the affirmative misses a trick here, where they probably could have talked a little bit more about those types of real social media misinformat-- like, Infowars stuff that comes out. And we think that those things kind of should have been talked about in terms of the matter here. The negative tell us a couple of things.

Firstly, they say that the government can't be trusted. And the reasons they give us are that they've ignored health advice from doctors, they get things wrong, and potentially, that they're profit-motivated or unethical. We thought that the ignoring of health advice was answered quite well by the affirmative, when they basically say nobody knows what they're doing in a pandemic, and we try and adapt to our circumstances.

We think that probably the government doesn't come out looking rosy from the negative's case. We think that the negative does a good job to tell us that the government probably isn't a great place. But we think that by and large, the affirmative tell us early on in this debate that everyone kind of wants out of these particular things.

So the panel doesn't really buy into the idea too heavily that the government is going to be motivated by profit, in terms of trying to push a particular vaccine. We do think that it was possible that the government could want people to remain in lockdown longer, or could want particular things occurring when it comes to the New South Wales lockdown, for example. But we didn't necessarily see why those particular things were linked to the spread of misinformation, but rather pushing a government [inaudible].

We think that the negative needs to do more on this point to prove that this was going to be largely a product of misinformation, rather than just the government controlling this type of media channel. We think that is particularly true, considering the affirmative tells us that there are still going to be news outlets that are able to promote their own news. So at the end of the debate, we thought that it was largely true that people given the right information would be likely to make more correct choices, that people are largely rational, and they want this to end.

We think that both teams agree that there's already anti-government factions. But it wasn't necessarily mechanised how this would empower those anti-government factions. At the end of the debate, we didn't think that the negative proves a really substantial link in terms of the reduction of the information, or the availability of that information on social media and actually inspiring people to create more harm.

We think that the affirmative does enough to basically say that you cut off some of the fuel and you reduce some of that sentiment, but moreover that there would be some kind of [? plurocity ?] when it came to the information that was available. And so people's right to actual access of information would still exist. And so in a unanimous decision, we did award this debate to team affirmative. Congratulations to both teams.


PRISHA ANGADI: We just want to say that we thought you did a really good job and that we wish you luck on your future debates. And I want to thank everyone for organising the debate. And we just thought it was a really good competition. Thank you.


CALEB FOO: I would like to thank the negative team for the-- Smith Hills High School for the good debate. And thank you for the-- thanks to the adjudicator and the audience for coming.

INSTRUCTOR: Good job, everyone.

STUDENT: Thank you so much.

STUDENT: Thank you very much [inaudible].

[no speech]

CALEB FOO: Thank you.

[no speech]

End of transcript