The Spike: or, Victoria University College Review, June 1929
[review of debating society activities]
The Society is fortunate this year in having an abundance of speakers. In a "Spike" of some years back the writer of the Debating Society's Report expressed the wildly extravagant hope that the Chairman might soon have to enforce Standing to reply at 10 o'clock." With some measure of satisfaction we record the fact that we have attained this Utopian state, for we have had as many as fifteen members speaking to one motion; had time permitted there would have been more. Considering that many of them were "new speakers," we think the prospects for the rest of the year are bright indeed. The holding of debates on Fridays and Saturdays alternately is a new venture, but there are already indications of the growing popularity of Friday night debates. Another new venture this year is the institution of supper, which, giving opportunities for a freer discussion than the conditions of debate permit, is likely to be very popular.
The Union Prize for 1928 was won by Mr. Walter J. Hall; while the New Speaker's Prize was awarded to Mr. Crossley.
The 315th ordinary meeting of the Society, held on the 6th October, 1928. was a Visitors' Debate on the subject of "Bible in Schools." The motion, "That the Religious Exercises Bill should have been passed," was moved by the Hon. L. M. Isitt, M.L.C., seconded by Mr. W. J. Hall, and opposed by Mr. F. L. Combs, M.A., seconded by Mr, Mountjoy. An audience of about a hundred listened with great interest to Mr. Isitt's eloquent statement of the case for the Bill and Mr. Combs's crushing reply. The "speakers from the audience," Professor Kirk, Messrs. Bannister, Forde. R. H. C. Mackenzie, and W. P. Rollings, all spoke against the Bill, and in view of this opposition Mr. Combs waived his right of reply. Mr. Isitt. in replying, spoke with much fervour, attacking what he called the students' levity of manner. The students objected to having their ideas classed as frivolous because they differed from Mr. Isitt's. and interjected freely, and Mr. Walter Nash conducted a wordy wrangle with Mr. Isitt for several minutes. In spite of the eloquent peroration of the veteran debater, the votes both of the audience and of the members of the Society showed a large majority against the Bill. The judge, Mr. Parry, placed the speakers in the following order: Rollings, Bannister, Hall, Mountjoy, Mackenzie.
The first debate of 1929 was held on Friday, 22nd March, when the Tournament subject, "That State Interference with Industry and Commerce in New Zealand page 75 is to be discouraged," was moved by Messrs. Powles and Mountjoy and opposed by Messrs. Rollings and Crossley. After Miss Forde and Messrs. Arndt, Curry, Hurley, Riske and Vickerman had expressed their views on the subject, Mr. D. F. Beauchamp, of the "1928 Committee," gave an interesting account of the growth, operation and aims of the "1928 Committee." The motion, on being put to the vote, was defeated. The first five speakers were placed in the following order by the judge, Mr. A. B. Sievwright: Rollings, Mountjoy, Powles, Arndt, Hurley.
Messrs. Powles and Mountjoy went to Christchurch to endeavour to retain the Joynt Scroll, but were defeated by the audience and Otago. The Tournament debate is reported elsewhere.
At the next debate, held on Saturday, 20th April, Messrs. Bannister and Dormer moved "That the New Zealand University should exist solely for the purpose of general culture and not for the provision of specialised training for any particular career." This motion was opposed by Messrs. Mountjoy and Baillie. The following gentlemen also addressed the meeting: Messrs. Powles, Rollings, Crossley, and Arndt. On the invitation of the Chairman, Mr. N. R. Jacobsen gave his views on the subject. The motion, on being put, revealed no desire on the part of the audience for learning for learning's sake alone. Professor Hunter, who judged the debate, after commenting on the students' ignorance of their own University, placed the first five speakers as follow: Rollings and Mountjoy, Powles and Baillie, Arndt.
On Saturday, May 18, a debate on the subject, "That a policy of extensive immigration is not in the best interests of New Zealand," was held. Messrs. O'Shea and Crossley attacked immigration, which was championed by Messrs. Hall and Powles. Mr. O'Shea asserted that immigration was not in the interests of the farming class, while Mr. Crossley contended that from the point of view of industry immigration was undesirable. Mr. Hall, pleading for vigorous, fearless statesmanship, suggested a policy of assisted immigration to organise and discipline "labour patrols," who would increase New Zealand's production to an undreamt-of degree, and drew an alarming picture of the teeming and ambitious East and a half-populated New Zealand. In his contentions he was ably supported by Mr. Powles. Others who expressed their views were Miss Forde and Messrs. Brown, Palmer, T. P. Rollings, Shields, Perry, W. P. Rollings, Mountjoy, Bannister, Wright, and Arndt. The first six of these were placed in the following order by the judge, Mr. Vryn Evans: Hall, O'Shea, Powles, W. P. Rollings, Crossley and Mountjoy. The motion was carried by an overwhelming majority.
The next debate, held on Friday, 7th June, was on the subject, "That fewer facilities should be given for secondary education in New Zealand." The subject had evidently aroused considerable interest as, when after 10 o'clock, the Chairman called on the leaders to reply, there were still some members who wished to speak. Messrs. Ferris and Callus criticised the secondary school system and pointed to the comparative excellence of technical education, while the value of the present system was urged by Messrs. Espiner and Hurley. Of the other speakers, Mr. Riske said that half of the teachers were only hacks, and quoted Russia as an ideal State; Mr. Cahill favoured an agrarian policy; Mr. Mountjoy challenged Mr. Ferris's definition of secondary, and talked of democracy; Mr. Brown quoted the W.E.A. and the "Encyclopedia Britannica"; Mr. Bannister, postulating that we must start at the bottom of the ladder and crawl up before we can run, said we should pay more attention to primary education and Mr. Arndt, expressing his intention of "saying a few words," said that of all the weak quibbles he had ever heard, Mr. Mountjoy's quibbling definition was the weakest. The judge, Mr. F. L. Combs, characterised the arguments as round rather than deep, and placed the speakers in the following order: Mountjoy, Hurley, Ferris, Riske, Bannister. The motion was defeated by a large majority.
We can hardly close this report without an appeal for larger attendances. The Society has endeavoured to select subjects of general interest and varied character, and surely there are a hundred or two students of Victoria College who could overcome their indifference and come to listen, interject, and speak.