Matt Bennett has been named one of the best debaters for his age in the state.
Matt Bennett has been named one of the best debaters for his age in the state. Blainey Woodham

Knowing how to talk the talk

FIFTEEN-year-old Matt Bennett is not someone you would want to pick an argument with.

The Wollumbin High School student has the gift of the gab and proved it last week by winning the New South Wales Junior State Debating Championships.

Matt and the rest of the North Coast team picked up the tops honour after an undefeated run at the finals in Sydney.

“There were seven debates during the final competition and we were undefeated,” Matt said.

Their debating coach, Peter Wilcox from Murwillumbah High School, believed that was the first time any team had a straight run of wins since the challenge started in the 80s.

Matt, from Bray Park, was one of five students chosen out of 40 for the North Coast team during a workshop held in Coffs Harbour.

“I’ve been debating since 2008 and I’ll keep going next year,” said Matt, who will be in Year 10 in 2010.

The Junior State Debating Championships, previously the Neil Gunther Inter-Regional Debating Competition, follows strict guidelines.

“We only have one hour for preparation and then we have to go into the debate,” Matt said.

“We don’t have any resources, we just have to remember what we can.”

The topic of their final debate was “Should Australia reintroduce the death penalty?” and they were the affirmative team.

“We each spoke for eight minutes,” Matt said.

“We talked about Ivan Milat and the Bali Nine and our general knowledge.”

Matt and his team-mates were presented with a gold medallion and certificate for first place.

“My parents and all my teachers are really proud,” he said.

“All my teachers kept coming up and congratulating me at school.”

Matt is still deciding what to do when he finishes school, but said he is considering a career as a naturopath.



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