ACT Legislative Assembly

Interschool parliamentary debates

These full school day programs are held in the chamber at the Legislative Assembly for the ACT throughout the year. Each program is presided over by the Speaker or other MLAs. Topics are nominated through teacher and student feedback.

Term 1

Thursday, 9 April 2020: Debates program for year 11 and 12 students

Term 2

Friday, 29 May 2020: Debates program for year 9 and 10 students

Friday, 5 June 2020: Debates program for year 7 and 8 students

Term 3

Friday, 7 August 2020: Debates program for year 9 and 10 students

Friday, 21 August 2020: Debates program for year 7 and 8 students

Register your expression of interest

Program overview

The Legislative Assembly's parliamentary debates program aims to provide:

  • an introduction to the Assembly for a wide variety of students;
  • an experience of parliamentary debating in the Westminster tradition;
  • the opportunity for students to practice public speaking skills in the formal setting of the Chamber; and
  • knowledge of and experience with parliamentary terminology and practices.

Each school team is made up of four students, and participates in two debates.  In the first debate, the school team presents their case and in the second debate the team questions the school team presenting.

The presenting team:

  • researches and investigates the topic in question;
  • decides whether to agree or disagree with the statement,
  • contacts their questioning school to inform them whether they are taking the affirmative or negative position;
  • develops a case to argue their position;
  • prepares answers to questions provided in writing by the questioning school prior to the debate; and
  • answers "on the spot" questions during open question time.

The questioning team:

  • researches and investigates the topic in question; and
  • develops questions with notice and submits them in writing to the presenting team.

Each debate lasts 20 minutes and proceeds as follows:

  • The leader of the presenting team presents their case; and
  • Students from the questioning team ask their Questions with Notice until all prepared questions have been answered.

There is then a period of open question time (Questions without Notice) in which:

  • any member of the questioning team can ask a further question;
  • any student from any team may then ask a question; and
  • any member of the presenting team may respond.

The debates are presided over by the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly for the ACT or another Member who is in charge of keeping order and ensuring that students comply with the standing orders and code of conduct as outlined below. At the end of each debate the Speaker puts the question to the vote to determine the outcome, and offers comments about the performance of the teams. A "Meet the Members" session rounds out the day enabling students to ask available MLAs questions about their role or what happens in the Chamber. Students are presented with a certificate of participation by the Speaker at the end of the program. For more detail please view the debate manual.


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Page last updated on 12 December 2019
2015 Legislative Assembly for the ACT