The ANU has won the 2017 Australasian Inter-varsity Debating Championships (Australs), held in Brisbane this year. It’s the first time that the ANU has won the competition in almost three decades, the last being in 1991.
Australs pulls debating teams from universities within the Australasian region. ‘It’s literally one of the most prestigious tournaments globally so to win it is an incredible achievement especially without all the resources of other larger universities,’ the ANU Debating Society president, Rebecca Kriesler, told Woroni.
The motion of the grand final was: ‘That we should require businesses who profit from cultural traditions (ethnic restaurants/cultural tourism/yoga studios) to obtain a license from minority community groups, based on conditions of their choosing.’
ANU’s highest ranked team (ANU1) – comprised of Dominic Guinane, Jess Musulin and Callum Dargavel – won the grand final in a 8-3 split decision. Guinane won the title of best speaker in the tournament, while Dargavel won best speaker in the grand final.
When asked about his achievement, Dargavel said: ‘In my head I thought Dom [Guinane] would win it so when they announced it I started cheering for him and then realised everyone was looking at me. It was definitely an amazing moment, though. Not something I’ll forget for a long time.’
ANU1 came up against the University of Sydney (USYD). The debate was considered somewhat of a rematch after USYD beat ANU at the 2017 Australian Intervarsity Debating Championship in Wollongong earlier in the year.
‘A rivalry has already emerged, the memes have begun, the roasts have commenced, the tears have been shed. We are ready for 2.0 at Women’s and World’s,’ Kriesler said.
‘Getting to the grand finals of both the biggest majors in Australia and having someone receive “best speaker” in both shows how incredibly talented and hardworking our members are,’ Kriesler said that ‘the society is one of the most active on campus and makes sure members, from national debaters to complete newbies, have an opportunity to develop into stars.’
The ANU Debating Society holds weekly internal debates every Tuesday. Information can be found on the ANU Debating Facebook page. Everyone from beginners to professionals are encouraged to come along.
‘There are new members every week, including people who have never debated or done public speaking in their life,’ Kriesler told Woroni. ‘We love new members and this semester is a completely new style of debating so it’s so easy to join. We have frequent socials to make friends and we have info sessions to teach people how to debate.’
Dargavel, a first-year student, spoke to the closeness of the society and its members. ‘ANUDS has a lot of really talented people but I think the real strength is that it feels like a community,’ he said.
‘Everyone helps each other out when they need it. We also had the loudest supporters by far, which really helps.’