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 Australian Jesuit Schools' Debating

Over the school holidays Madi Piddington, Dom McMahon, Patrick Donnelly (Year 12) and Naomi Shanahan-Giaquinto (Year 11) travelled to Loyola Senior College, Mount Druitt, to participate in the 12th Annual Australian Jesuit Schools’ Debating Carnival. Teams are drawn from the five Jesuit high schools and four Jesuit companion schools around the country. For Xavier, Hervey Bay, this is a nerve wracking experience, pitting our limited, Apex debating skills against the prowess of some of the finest debating schools in the country including St Aloysius, Milson’s Point, St Ignatius, Riverview and Loyola Senior High School, Mt Druitt (Sydney), St John XXIII, Clermont (WA), Xavier, Kew and Loyola College, Watsonia (Victoria) and St Ignatius, Athelstone (SA).

The first debate of the carnival saw our team struggle to shake off the nerves, falling foul of St. John XXIII, WA’s well-reasoned arguments ‘that schools rely too much on technology’. On day two, following a good night’s sleep and with the wisdom of experience, the team took on a most formidable opponent, St. Ignatius, Riverview, to debate ‘that Australia embraces multiculturalism’. As the negative side of the house, the team fought with a passionate understanding of social inequities. Patrick Donnelly shone as second speaker, pointing out the gaping inaccuracies of the opposition’s utopian view of multiculturalism. At third speaker, Madi Piddington systematically knocked down the opposition’s case with her trademark rapid-fire rebuttal.
In our final pool debate the coin toss saw us sitting on the negative side of the house, yet again, in opposition to the undefeated pool leaders, Xavier, Kew, to debate ‘that privacy is an illusion’. Against a highly polished and experienced team Dominic McMahon’s clear, logical and evidenced argument at third speaker executed an icily calculated destruction of the opposition’s case. The adjudicator made special mention of Dom’s ability to dismantle St. Ignatius’ case point by point leaving nothing standing on the affirmative side of the house. The win was ours!
After the pool debates a points countback placed Xavier Hervey Bay in the second round to debate Ignatius, Adelaide, for third or fourth place. Finally on the affirmative side of the house, the team put forward a carefully crafted argument ‘that artistic expression should not be regulated’. Naomi Shanahan-Giaquinto, our only Year 11 team member, spoke eloquently about the importance of art to the human condition. The team delivered a very cleverly constructed argument, only narrowly defeated by their opposition.
The final debate, ‘that a Jesuit education focused primarily on the pursuit of knowledge’, saw Xavier, Kew (affirmative), battle the hosts, Loyola, Mt Druitt, in a very close contest. Xavier Kew cited the prayer for generosity as evidence for their case but, fittingly, our hosts from Mt Druitt took out the 2016 title arguing that a Jesuit education produced well-rounded students with a balance of competence, conscience and compassion!
Xavier can be very proud of the achievements of our debaters this year, as well as achieving a fourth placing over-all, Dom McMahon was chosen for the ‘All Australian Jesuit Team’ and Madi Piddington was recognised by the student body as demonstrating the ‘Spirit of Ignatius’ for her pastoral approach to all during the carnival. A great experience for all!
Claire Sinclair and Colin Wright.