Style of debate

  1. Unless specifically altered in these Rules, debates will be conducted in accordance with chapters 1-9 of the Australia-Asia Debating Guide.
  2. A team must field three (3) eligible speakers and a "fourth speaker" throughout the debate and no speaker may deliver more than one substantive (i.e. not a reply) speech.

Competition structure

  1. The competition will be divided into six (6) Class groups:
    1. Novice, for students in Year 8 and below who have not debated before. A team may however include one student with previous debating experience.
    2. Class 8, for students in Year 8 and below.
    3. Class 9, for students in Year 9 and below.
    4. Class 10, for students in Year 10 and below.
    5. Class 11, for students in Year 11 and below.
    6. Class 12, for students in Year 12 and below.
  2. The Roster Coordinator may amalgamate one or more Class groups as required.
  3. Each Class group will be divided into up to four Divisions. Teams will be allocated to a Division by the Roster Coordinator.
  4. Unless directed by the Roster Coordinator, before or after entries close, there is no set limit on the number of teams a school may enter in any Class group.
  5. The "fourth speaker" for the Affirmative team will chair the debate and the "fourth speaker" for the Negative team will act as timekeeper.
  6. One (1) Adjudicator only will adjudicate debates in preliminary rounds of the competition.
  7. Three (3) Adjudicators will adjudicate debates in final rounds of the competition.
  8. An eligible speaker for a team is a student:
    1. studying at the year level appropriate for the team as specified in role 2.1; and
    2. enrolled at the school or college for which the team is competing; or
    3. enrolled at another school or college that does not then have a team competing at the year level in which that student is studying.


  1. The Affirmative may define the topic in any way provided that the definition:
    1. is reasonably close to the plain meaning of the topic;
    2. allows the Negative team reasonable room to debate;
    3. is not tautological or truistic; and
    4. is otherwise a reasonable definition.
  2. Squirreling, placesetting and timesetting are not permitted.
    1. Squirreling is the distortion of the definition to enable a team to argue a pre-prepared argument that it wishes to debate regardless of the topic actually set.
    2. Placesetting is the setting of a debate of general application in a particular place.
    3. Timesetting is the setting of a debate of general application in a particular time, past or future.
  3. The role of the first speaker of the Negative is to challenge the definition if necessary, and present an alternative definition if the definition is challenged.
  4. The first Negative may challenge the definition only if it does not conform to 3.1 or 3.2. If he or she challenges the definition, the first Negative must propose a new definition that conforms to 3.1 and 3.2.
  5. If the first Negative does not challenge the definition, the Negative is taken to have accepted the definition and the Negative may not challenge the definition in any other speech unless the Affirmative significantly alters the definition in their subsequent speeches.

Speaking times

  1. Novice - warning bell at 2 minutes - second bell at 3 minutes
  2. Class 8 - warning bell at 3 minutes - second bell at 4 minutes
  3. Class 9 - warning bell at 4 minutes - second bell at 5 minutes
  4. Class 10 - first bell at 1 minute (start of points of information) - warning bell at 5 minutes (end of points of information) - final bell at 6 minutes
  5. Class 11/12 - first bell at 1 minute (start of points of information) - warning  bell at 7 minutes (end of points of information) - final bell at 8 minutes
  6. The speech time for reply speeches are half the above with a warning bell one minute before the end of the allowed time.

Permanent membership

  1. Once a student has debated for a particolar team on three (3) occasions, that student will be regarded as a permanent member of that team.
  2. A permanent team member is not allowed to compete for another team in competition in any Division at the same or a lower Class group, unless he or she changes schools during the course of the competition.

Points of information and reply speeches

  1. Apart from Points of Information in Class 10, Class 11 and Class 12 debates, interjections are not permitted in any debate.
  2. Reply speeches are allowed in Class 10, Class 11 and Class 12 debates only.
  3. Participation in offering points of information, and the quality of the points made, will be marked in a separate column as an adjustment (between -2 to +2) of the overall mark for each speaker.
  4. Class 10 Speakers will not receive a POI mark less than zero (0).
  5. The performance of a speaker in accepting Points of Information will be reflected in the score for the Speaker's substantive speech.


  1. Team Points will be awarded as follows:
    1. Win: three (3) points
    2. Defeat: one (1) point
    3. Forfeit: zero (0) points
    4. Late Forfeit (after noon on the day of the debate): minus one (−1) point
    5. Disqualification: minus 1 (−1) point
  2. Where a team is otherwise ready and willing to debate at the rostered or postponed time and place, but is prevented by an event that appears to the adjudicator to be a last minute event apparently outside the control of the team (including but not limited to illness, preparation of the wrong topic, or the unexpected failure of a team member to arrive at the venue) that team will be regarded as having forfeited the debate and will be awarded zero points for the debate.
  3. In addition to individual speaker scores, Adjudicator will also rank Speakers, where one (1) is best.
  4. Draws are not allowed to be awarded in the competition.
  5. Where a team has a BYE or a win or loss by forfeit, that team will receive its average Rank (calculated from all its other competition debates) for that debate, and in the case of a BYE, its average points from all other debates.
  6. Where a team withdraws from competition, and the roster for the remaining teams is not redrawn, all rostered debates for the withdrawn team after the date of withdrawal will be treated as a win by forfeit for the opposing teams.
  7. Where a team withdraws from competition, and the roster for the remaining teams is redrawn, all rostered debates for the withdrawn team prior to the date of withdrawal will retrospectively be treated as a bye the opposing teams, irrespective of the actual result of those debates.
  8. Teams will be ranked by their total points; then average Rank. Teams with equal points and equal average Rank will then, if those teams have debated each other during the competition (including debates decided by forfeit), be ranked according to the overall outcome of such debates. Where the teams have not debated each other during the competition, or where this does not determine a winner, teams will be ranked by the average points margin of their debates (with winning margins counted as positive and losing margins counted as negative).
  9. At the conclusion of the preliminary rounds, there will be finals for each Class Group as follows:
    1. If there is only one (1) Division in the competition, the top two (2) teams will proceed straight to the Grand Final;
    2. If there are two (2) Divisions in competition, the top two (2) teams in each Division will proceed to Semi-Finals and the winners of the Semi Finals will compete in the Grand Final;
    3. If there are three (3) Divisions in competition, the top two (2) teams in each Division will proceed to Finals known as Quarter Finals (even though there will only be three (3) such finals) with the three (3) winners of those Quarter-Finals proceeding to the Semi-Finals and the fourth spot in the Semi Finals being filled by the highest ranked losing team from the Quarter-Finals with the ranking determined as follows:
      1. Firstly, teams that lose by a split decision will be ranked above teams that lose unanimously;
      2. Secondly, teams will be ranked by their total speaker points in their respective Quarter Final; and
      3. Thirdly, teams that lose by a small margin in the aggregated total marks awarded by the panel of adjudicators will be ranked above teams that lost by a larger margin.
    4. If there are four Divisions in competition, the top two teams in each Division will proceed to Quarter-Finals with the winners of those Quarter-Finals proceeding to Semi-Finals and the winner of the Semi-Finals competing in the Grand Final.


  1. The first team named in the roster will always be the Affirmative.
  2. The Competition Coordinator will issue the topic at the venue of the debate one (1) hour prior to the scheduled starting time for the debate.
  3. For prepared debates, only one topic will be issued. For Short Preparation debates three topics may be issued, in which case teams are to number the topics in order of preference with 1 being the highest preference. Topics numbered 3 are excluded. If a topic is not decided by that process, a coin will be flipped to determine which topic will be debated of those numbered 1 and 2.
  4. Once a debater has received the topic for his or her Short Preparation debate, he or she cannot speak or communicate with any person apart from:
    1. another member of their team;
    2. the Competition Coordinator or other TDU Official; or
    3. during the preparation time only, the fourth member of the team (where the fourth member is eligible to debate for that team).
  5. The only reference material that can be used in preparation for a Short Preparation debate is an unannotated dictionary.
  6. Where the preparation time has concluded and it is revealed that one team in a debate has prepared the wrong side of the topic, each team shall be provided a further twenty minutes of preparation time.

Forfeits and postponements

  1. If a team is not ready to debate within ten (10) minutes of the scheduled starting time for the debate and has not arranged for the debate to be postponed, that team will be deemed to have forfeited.
  2. A team unable to debate at the scheduled time can, at any time at least 48 hours prior to the scheduled time, postpone that debate.
  3. It is the responsibility of the team requesting the postponement of a debate to:
    1. make all arrangements for the holding of the postponed debate;
    2. advise the Competition Coordinator of arrangements made for the postponed debate at least 48 hours before the debate is to be held; and
    3. pay the Adjudication Postponement Fee.
  4. Where a debate is postponed, the team that was ready and able to debate at the scheduled time can, subject to the Competition Coordinator's ultimate control, impose any reasonable requirement about the time and venue for the postponed debate.
  5. Once notified of the date, time and venue for the postponed debate, the Competition Coordinator will arrange an adjudicator to adjudicate the postponed debate.
  6. A debate in the last preliminary round cannot be postponed, and all postponed debates must be held on or before the last preliminary round.

Roster Alterations

  1. The Roster can only be altered in writing, and all schools will be deemed to have notice of any alteration two (2) clear school days after the day on which the notice was transmitted by facsimile or email