AIYA NSW hosted the inaugural Great Garooda Debate on 23 June. It was a night of lively and entertaining debate with just a hint of healthy competition – a winning combination. Team Kangaroo comprised first speaker Tim “the Squatting Scholar” Lay, second speaker Teddy “the Sleepy Koala” Triatmojo, and third speaker Sally “the Kamperdown Komodo” Andrews. On Team Garuda, the first speaker was Nick “the Camden Cockatoo” Ryan, Brittany “the Batik Bogan” Betteridge, and final speaker Jarrah “the Balinese Boomerang” Sastrawan.

We were very fortunate to have Barrister Campbell Bridge SC as adjudicator, who’s been heavily involved in mediating major disputes in both Australia and Indonesia and so was in a great position to adjudicate the Great Garooda debate. The night kicked off with a delicious dinner supplied by AIYA NSW, enjoyed before the audience entered the auditorium to listen to the three debates. Each topic offered a fantastic balance of intellectual insight and hilarious banter.

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Team Kangaroo’s first speaker Sally “the Kamperdown Komodo” Andrews takes the floor. Photo: AIYA

The evening started with the more serious topic ‘Australia is a better example of Unity in Diversity than Indonesia’ with Team Kangaroo the affirmative. The Squatting Scholar kicked off the debate outlining a very persuasive example of Australian diversity: you can grab a halal snack pack and some dumplings all on the same street! Whilst this argument certainly had us all nodding our heads, it was most probably Teddy’s argument that got the affirmative team over the line. The Sleepy Koala convincingly suggested that because the Australian government provides the means and spaces for multicultural activities, Australia is a better example of unity in diversity.

Barrister Campbell Bridge SC. Photo: Virania Munaf

Barrister Campbell Bridge SC. Photo: Virania Munaf

With the score 1-0 on the side of Team Kangaroo, it was crucial for Team Garuda to be victorious in the second round to ensure they stayed in the game. The second topic was ‘Malcolm Turnbull has a better chance of re-election than Jokowi’. No stone was left unturned as every aspect of both leaders was heavily analysed, from Malcolm’s silver fox good looks to Jokowi’s relationship with Megawati. Team Garuda was arguing the affirmative for this round and it was Jarrah’s intelligent argument about Jokowi’s relationship with PDIP that got them over the line as the audience, and more importantly the adjudicator, were left convinced that Joko Widodo will probably not be re-elected in 2019.


Both teams with adjudicator Barrister Campbell Bridge SC. Photo: Virania Munaf

With one win a-piece it was the final round that would decide which team would come out of this arm wrestle as the victors. The final topic was chosen by the audience on the night leaving the debaters with minimal preparation time and maximum potential for comical and compelling debate. The topic was ‘Indonesia has better popular culture than Australia’ with Team Garuda arguing the affirmative. Special mention must go to Sally Andrews who, with hilarious wit and timely execution, managed to have the entire audience in stitches with some risqué remarks about Australian popular culture. Whilst Nick Ryan’s disturbingly accurate imitation of the average Aussie had the audience laughing out loud, it was Brittany “Batik Bogan” Betteridge who won adjudicator Campbell Bridge over, persuading us that dangdut really is the best form of entertainment. Congratulations to Team Garuda who won this year’s Great Garooda Debate but as the the adjudicator said, it was very close and ‘there was nothing in it’.