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Great Hall, University of Sydney
16 August, 2011

The motion ‘we need a nanny state’ was carried at this debate.

Pre-debate poll: For 28%, Against 50%, Undecided 22%,

Post–debate poll: For 67%, Against 27%, Undecided 6%

From internet filtering to junk food advertising, everyone has an opinion on how much government should be able to regulate our lives. Does government edict save lives, improve our social well-being and protect the vulnerable; or does it interfere with our fundamental freedom and the incentive to take responsibility for our own actions? Does it hamper our need to experiment, take risks and the challenges that ensure we mature as individuals and as a society? Should regulation to protect or curb a minority be imposed on the majority? Where do we draw the boundary between private choices and public obligations?


  • Dr Simon Longstaff has a PhD in Philosophy from Cambridge. Prior to becoming the inaugural Executive Director of St James Ethics Centre in 1991, Dr Longstaff worked in the Northern Territory in the Safety Department of BHP subsidiary, GEMCO; lectured at Cambridge University and was a consultant to the Cambridge Commonwealth and Overseas Trusts. His book Hard Cases, Tough Choices was published in 1997. Dr Longstaff was inaugural President of the Australian Association for Professional & Applied Ethics and is a Fellow of the World Economic Forum. He is Chairman of Woolworths Limited Corporate Responsibility Panel and AMP Capital Socially Responsible Investment Advisory Committee


  • Simon Chapman is Professor in Public Health at the University of Sydney. His current research involves examining how health and medical issues are covered in the news media; the implications for tobacco control of web 2.0 technology; and characteristics of public health research (and its dissemination) which impact on public health policy. His book Public Health Advocacy and Tobacco Control: Making Smoking History (2007) outlines his leadership in the tobacco control campaign, its success and the work still to be done.
  • Christopher Zinn is the Director for Communications at CHOICE, an independent publisher of consumer information, an active advocacy group and the public face of the Australia Consumers’ Association (ACA). Choice has more than 200,000 subscribers who receive independent and expert advice on the products and services available in the marketplace, while the wider community benefits from campaigns that champion consumer rights.
  • Patrick Bateman is currently completing his Law degree at the University of Sydney. He was President of the Student Union from 2009 to 2010 and remains on the Board. Pat is a winner of the University’s Justice Kirby Plain Speaking Competition, the Intercol Oration and the World Universities Public Speaking Championship. He has represented the University in three World Universities Debating Championships and three Australasian Intervarsity Debating Championships. Pat recently won the Jessup International Law Moot in Washington D.C. The founder of the University’s first Public Speaking Society, Pat is one of several volunteer coaches who spend each week training international students in public communication.


  • Chris Berg is a Research Fellow with the Institute of Public Affairs, a public policy think tank “dedicated to preserving and strengthening the foundations of economic and political freedom.” He is a regular columnist with the Sunday Age and ABC’s The Drum, covering cultural, political and economic issues. His published works include The Growth of Australia’s Regulatory State (2008) The National Curriculum: A Critique (2011) and 100 Great Books of Liberty (editor, with John Roskam, 2010).
  • Eleanor Jones is a fourth year Arts/Law student, currently undertaking Honours in History. She is writing her thesis on the legal history of abuse allegations against the Catholic Church in America. Elle was the Director of the USU’s Debates Program in 2010 and has been involved in judging the Kirby competition for the past two years. Elle has just been awarded the Best Speaker at the Australasian Debating Championships held in Korea in July 2011. In 2010, she competed in the finals of both the Austral-Asian and World Debating Championships. She was awarded the 4th Best Individual Speaker in Austral-Asia and 12th Best in the World. She is also a Secretariat member of the Australasian Intervarsity Debating Association.
  • Rowan Dean is Executive Creative Director for Euro RSCG, a global integrated marketing communications agency. He is an advertising media specialist who also runs his own company Rowan Dean Advertising. As a junior copywriter in London he launched Fosters Lager (and Paul Hogan) onto the British public in the most successful UK alcohol launch of the 80s. He is a regular social media commentator with his own blog, and is a frequent guest panelist on The Gruen Transfer, the ABC TV panel show about “advertising, how it works and how it works on us.”

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