Parliamentary Debate Description
A Parliamentary Debate involves splitting the room down the middle into Government and Opposition sides – like in parliament. A Prime Minister and a Leader of the Opposition are appointed.
A Speaker of the House acts as chairman, explains the rules (below) prior to commencing and decides at the close whether the Government or the Opposition is the winner based on arguments put forth. The Speaker may suggest that the Sergeant At Arms removes any person whose behaviour is, eg, ‘offensive’.
A motion is debated. It has the advantage of allowing all to participate. It is usually good fun and rowdy, also providing an opportunity to ‘speak under fire’.
- Timing of the debate is usually 15 – 20 mins and takes the place of Table Topics.
- The Prime Minister is given up to two minutes to state the case of the Government and set any definitions of terms.
- The Leader of the Opposition is then given two minutes to state the case of the Opposition and define any necessary terms.
- Members of the Government and Opposition are referred to as “The Member for (LASTNAME OF THE PERSON)”. So someone called Bill Smith would be The Member for Smith.
- Members must gain the attention of the Speaker before being permitted to speak.
- Each speaker, apart from the PM and Opposition Leader at the beginning, can only speak for up to one minute at a time.
- There is no limit on the number of times a person can speak during the debate, once they are recognised by the Speaker of the House.
- As with parliament, members can interject, mock other members, and cast serious doubts over the good character of other members. The extent to which this can occur is limited only by the Speaker.
- At the end of the debate, the Prime Minister sums up the Government’s case in one minute.
- After the Prime Minister’s summation, the Leader of the Opposition sums up the Opposition’s case in one minute.
- Speaker of the House then puts the motion to members, counts votes, and the motion is declared won or lost. (Crossing the floor is permitted.)
- The Speaker, disregarding whether the motion was won or lost, judges which side put forth the best arguments and declares a winner.
[Suggested motions] The motion before the house is:
“That … any person uttering an ‘um’ or an ‘ah’ should be instantly removed from the meeting.”
“That … all sandwiches should be cut square and not triangular.”
“That … the Member for [VPE]…. should receive more superannuation than ordinary Members, due to his/her contribution to the meetings.”
“That … all members should wear a tie to meetings.”
That … all members should wear to meetings a ribbon in their hair.”