Debating Society host 2014's first election debate

10 March 2014

March 2014

The University of Auckland Debating Society recently hosted 2014’s first election debate on campus. With 600 students attending, the debate was a roaring success. The politicians argued issues relevant to students such as Marijuana regulation, the minimum wage, and tertiary education funding models.

The debate boasted an impressive line up with Shane Jones from Labour, Colin Craig from the Conservatives, Gareth Hughes from the Greens, Te Ururoa Flavell from the Maori Party, Dr Jamie Whyte from the Act Party, John Minto from Mana and Jami-Lee Ross from National all attending. Patrick Gower, the 3 News Political Editor, was the moderator of the debate and was very popular among students.   

The debate had four main sections – a general section on what each party stood for heading into the 2014 election, a section on the economy, a section on social issues specifically alcohol and drug regulation, and a section on the best funding model for tertiary education. Notable moments in the debate include Patrick Gower questioning each politician on whether they had smoked marijuana before, and a tense exchange between Shane Jones and Jami-Lee Ross on whether the minimum wage reduced employment.

Students were also interested in the discussion on tertiary education, specifically the debate surrounding National’s plans to reduce the size of the University council and remove the requirement to have student and staff representatives on Council. Jami-Lee Ross was under pressure from Shane Jones and Gareth Hughes in this area as they accused the National party of denying students their voice on University matters.  Shane Jones also brought some controversy to the debate when he argued that Universities should reduce the number of Asians attending University as international students, and that funding should instead be prioritised to domestic students.

The real celebrity of the debate however was Colin Craig. Turning up fifteen minutes late due to an accident on the Harbour Bridge where a truck apparently collided with the safety barriers, he was given a hero’s welcome. His opening monologue was particularly interesting as he discussed innovation in New Zealand and compared the 2014 election to a game of rugby.  Colin Craig also brought a different perspective to tertiary education, arguing that number of places in University should be restricted and that other students should be encouraged away from University.

The Debating Society is hoping to host similar events over the course of this year. Students can sign up for debating at or can email  at for further details.