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Queensland’s Great Debate!

Does the water sector need a better value proposition? According to the winning team at the inaugural QWater Conference Great Debate: no, we do not.

This year we closed QWater’23 with our first ever 'QWater Great Debate' - with teams looking to address our future water workforce challenges by contesting that: 'To make the next decade matter, the water sector needs a better value proposition'.

The affirmative team, made up of Arup’s Samantha Guy, Urban Utilities’ Dave Brooker, and International Water Centre’s Brian McIntosh, argued that we do need a new value proposition to make the next decade matter.

The affirmative team highlighted the ever-evolving nature of the water industry, drawing on significant historical changes that have had long lasting impacts. Brian Macintosh called out the reliance on status quo, arguing “if we continue as we are, we’re going to have problems.”

The affirmative team summarised their argument by calling for reform, “we need to reform our sector to attract the people not in the room”.

The opposing team, WSP’s Curtis Luxton, Logan Water’s Kimberly James, and John Holland’s Margaret Riley, used that same point to argue that we do not need a new value proposition, as change is something the industry does well.

The opposing team continued the debate stating the water sectors value proposition speaks across generations. The opposition’s rebuttal claimed that it’s a communication issue, not a value proposition issue we’re facing.

Margaret Riley summarised the opposition’s stance, referencing the ever-changing nature of the water industry, “We need to keep driving ourselves forward as we’ve always done.”

Debate Moderator Justin Simonis then called on the audience to show their support for each argument, and it was a tough decision. As the audience separated to either side of the room to show their voting preference, it became clear that both teams had argued passionately and well, with only a few votes to separate the teams. After the inevitable recount, it was clear that the opposition had taken the win.

To summarise the winning team’s argument: “Water does not need a new value proposition to survive the next decade, in fact we have everything we need to attract the right people for the right tasks. We just need to tell more people about the great innovative work that happens here.”

Debate Team
Justin Simonis, Promethean Projects

Affirmative Team
Samantha Guy, Arup
David Brooker, Urban Utilities
Brian McIntosh, International WaterCentre

Opposing Team
Curtis Luxton, WSP
Kimberly James, Logan Water
Margaret Riley, John Holland Group

To hear more of what people love about working in water, visit AWA’s Careers in Water website.