Newman - University of Melbourne

Newman - University of Melbourne


Albert Power Debating Society

THE history of the Albert Power

Debating Society this year was

a dismal fulfilment of the prophecies

made by so many on this page in

recent years, that, unless a more general

interest in debating was shown in the

College, the society would be in danger

of disappearing, at least for a time.

For the past few years the Society has

been kept together each year by a small

band of enthusiasts who strove to rouse the

general body of the students to action, and

to inspire the freshmen with zeal for the

cause. On these few members has fallen all

the burden of arranging and participating in

internal and Intercollegiate contests, and

they have done very well considering the

disabilities under which they were labouring.

This year, however, even the small group

of enthusiasts was lacking, and the Society

suffered accordingly. The approaching

depression was not at first obvious, as the

Freshers' Debate went off quite well. Some

promising talent was revealed among the

newcomers, and—which was more important—there

was some excellent and entertaining

speaking from the House. There

seemed every reason to be hopeful for a

successful year, but unfortunately it rapidly

became apparent that the committee was

not as energetic and enthusiastic as it might

have been, and the result was that no

further debates were held during first term.

As the weeks of second term went by the

same apathy was noticeable, and it seemed

that, for the first time since the inception

of the contests, Newman would be unable to

field a team in the Intercollegiate debates.

This disaster was happily averted by a

timely burst of energy which resulted in a

Journey by Messrs. Aird, Mortensen, and

Westmore to Trinity on the night of July

28. Their object was to deny "that the

ideals of democracy were incompatible with

modern capitalism," but the inherent difficulties

of the subject, coupled with a certain

lack of practise and shortness of preparation,

proved too great a difficulty for the

team to overcome. The adjudicators,

Messrs. Burton and Wilson had no

hesitation in hailing the Trinity speakers as

victorious by a comfortable margin.

A week later, in the presence of Professors

Scutt and Crawford, and the Rev.

Fr. Hackett, S.J., the Society was again

represented by Messrs. Aird, Mortensen,

and Westmore, who sought on this occasion,

to prove that "the future of the world

centres in the Pacific." The opposition was

provided by the William Quick Society of

Queen's College, whose presentation of the

case won the unanimous approval of the


This debate closed the activities of the

Society for the year. It is not a record on

which we can dwell with any pride. It is

not the fact that both Intercollegiate contests

were lost that gives cause for sorrow,

for that misfortune happened to the club

even in the days of its greatness. It is the

manner in which they were lost. In a

college of nearly record numbers in which

there are many who are proved speakers of

ability, it was only with the greatest difficulty

that a team could be got together. It

was at best a scratch team, because the

absence of any internal debating gave no

opportunity for the essential practice. In

the circumstances the men selected performed

creditably, but those circumstances

should never have arisen. It is regrettable

that this can be said with truth of a Society,

which, a few short years ago, was famed in

the University, and far beyond, and whose

members took a regular and prominent part

in University and Intervarsity debating.

It is, of course, obvious that we can not

always be blessed with speakers of Intervarsity

class, but it should not be too much

to expect of a University college that a

reasonable number of its members will be

at least speakers of average merit. The

Debating Society this year suffered not

because of lack of ability among those who

should have spoken, but because of their

disinclination, for reasons best known to

themselves, to make the necessary effort.


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