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The Great Debate - Part II

06 Oct 2011

The University of Sydney Business School team has taken the crown in the second part of the Accounting Discipline's popular 2011 Great Debate series.

The Great Debate featured rivalry between students and academics from the University of Business School and representatives from one of the Big Four international accountancy and professional services firms, Deloitte.

Close to 200 students, staff and corporate contacts queued outside Merewether Lecture Theatre 1 in anticipation following a similar well-attended event earlier in the year.

The lively series of debates co-hosted by the Accounting and Auditing Society (AAASoc) and the Discipline of Accounting provide a unique opportunity for students, industry contacts and academics to convene and share ideas through amusing and entertaining deliberation.

The University of Sydney team comprised two students from AAASoc, including student David Webb and President of the society, Will Thomas. Two academics from the Discipline of Accounting also added their collective expertise to the Business School team. The Deloitte team was composed of staff members from across the organisation including Manager of Deloitte Private, Chris McKendrick, experienced analyst in Assurance and Advisory, Joan Tang, analyst Nathan Tran and graduate in Risk, Joshua Goulton.

Professor Graeme Dean opened the formalities before the debate kicked off with the contentious topic: 'The world would be ideal with Accountants in Power'. Although the topic was somewhat tongue-in-cheek, it was soon obvious that both teams took the challenge very seriously. The Deloitte team argued on the affirmative while the University of Sydney team put forward the negative argument.

Chris McKendrick from Deloitte opened the debate by appealing to references from the Macquarie dictionary and subsequently put forward some very convincing arguments about how accountants bring 'balance' to the world during crises such as the GFC. As a natural extension of this, he argued that the world would be ideal if accountants were in power. Will Thomas followed by thanking Chris for his "valiant" efforts and presented his conflicting view that "absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Throughout the course of the heated debate, humour underlined the serious points being disputed. The debate was strewn with analogies to past and present leaders, crowd pleasing references to pop culture and arguments concerning the stereotypically boring nature of accountants. Joshua Goulton and Joan Tang from Deloitte along with David Webb and Abdul Razeed from the University of Sydney battled at an astounding pace, with a fusillade of arguments and rebuttals. Concluding positions were presented by Nathan Tran and John Dumay with the latter drawing on Machiavellian philosophies of power to counter his rival's arguments.

After lengthy review, the adjudicator announced the final scores of the debate as a precise 84.25 for the Deloitte team, beaten narrowly by the victorious University of Sydney team who achieved a score of 84.35.

Stay tuned for the next Great Debate in the series???

If you would like to receive information directly about the next debate please email Jacqui Liehr on: jacqui.liehr@sydney.edu.au.