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The aim of debating is to encourage the art of clear speaking and thinking. In addition debaters gain self-confidence and they learn to meet verbal attack and criticism in the most civilised and effective way of counter-argument.

The aim of debating is to encourage the art of clear speaking and thinking. In addition debaters gain self-confidence and they learn to meet verbal attack and criticism in the most civilised and effective way of counter-argument. The debater learns to think ahead to anticipate and appreciate the point of view of others, including his/her opponents, and how to use reason instead of force to meet their challenge. On those occasions when he/she must debate against his/her own beliefs they gain a valuable insight into the art of putting oneself in the other's place. The skilled gained in using the tactics of debate can prove of lifetime benefit in the career of a debater. Besides all this, debating is a great fun and allows the individual to utilise skills in a form of highly developed competitive activity ideally suited to Rural Youth programmes.

Teams to consist of three members, affirmative and negative teams.

All debate should be under the control of the chairperson. The Chairperson shall also be a responsible for keeping the time for the speakers - but should appoint an independent timekeeper.

Debates shall be conducted in the following order

  • First speaker of Affirmative
  • First speaker of negative
  • Second speaker of Affirmative
  • Second speaker of negative
  • Third speaker of affirmative
  • Third speaker of negative

The third speaker of affirmative can introduce new material. The third speaker of negative cannot introduce new material.


Each speaker will be allotted the following times:

  • Regional: allotted 5 minutes with warning bell at 3 minutes.
  • Regional Final: allotted 6 minutes with warning bell at 4 minutes.
  • State semi-Final: allotted 7 minutes with warning bell at 5 minutes.
  • State Final: allotted 8 minutes with warning bell at 6 minutes.

Adjudicators shall not award any points after a speaker's time has elapsed and may penalise speakers for being either side of the time limit. A margin of 15 seconds either way is allowed, but if this is exceeded one point for every 10 seconds in excess will be penalised.


  1. Teams will be given 14 days notice in writing for the state semi-final and final, and for all regional debates. They will be notified of the topic, the opposing club whether they are affirmative or negative, and the date and venue of the debate.
  2. Regional Secretaries must notify the competitions director in writing, six (6) weeks prior to the state final, of the regional winners (ie, name of club and the names of the three debaters). This club may also submit the name of one (1) club member to act as reserve, but must obtain the approval of the competitions director before he/she can debate.
  3. If the regional champion is still unable to compete in the finals, the regional runner-up will take their place.

In the event of a club being unable to field a full team in the regional competitions, vacancies may be filled from Clubs within the Region.


There is a separate detailed score sheet.

Maximum marks that may be awarded to each speaker are as follows:

  • MATTER 40 points
  • MANNER 40 points
  • METHOD 20 points


The adjudicator(s) should be asked to complete the score sheet and hand it to the Chairperson who will check and then announce the result. Once the result has been announced, the decision is final and cannot be altered.
Wherever practical and possible more than one qualified adjudicator would each allocate marks. Where three adjudicators are used either a unanimous or a majority decision is announced based on the result sheets, and not on the total points awarded.

Debating Rules

  1. The members of all debating teams must be financial members of a Rural Youth or Young farmers Organisation, affiliated with the Australian Rural Youth.
  2. Each debating team shall consist of three members.
  3. Each debate shall be between two teams; hereafter called the affirmative and the negative team.
  4. The affirmative team will have the right to speak first.
  5. The member of the opposing teams shall speak alternatively, in numerical order.
  6. A single bell or buzzer will be sounder as a warning signal. A double bell or buzzer will be sounded at the conclusion of time.
  7. Time - (All speakers) Interstate knockout - maximum 5 minutes, warning at 4 minutes. Grand Final - Maximum 8 minutes, warning at 6 minutes.
  8. The Macquarie Dictionary will be the one and only dictionary to be used as a reference.
  9. Speakers will not be penalised for time if they finish 30 seconds of their allotted time. The chairperson will not intervene unless the speaker runs overtime be an unacceptable length. A deduction of 5 points for every 30 seconds outside of the 30-second leeway allowed will be made.
  10. Any points raised or dealt with by the speaker after 30 seconds overtime will new disregarded, as will any new matter.
  11. Questions and interjections will not be permitted from the audience or opposing team during the debate.
  12. No debate maybe drawn.
  13. All contestants must be in attendance 10 minutes prior to the scheduled starting time of the debate. Should any contestant arrive more than 3 minute late, their team shall automatically forfeit to the opposing team.
  14. It is a team's responsibility to make themselves familiar with these rules and to ensure a copy is given to each adjudicator, chairperson and timekeeper prior to the debate. A copy of these rules must be present at each debate.
  15. Adjudicators will not be called to comment.