This High School Student Schooled The Education Minister On ‘Q&A’

It was very satisfying to watch.


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There are few things as satisfying as watching high school kids thoroughly own government ministers on national television, and thanks to Q&A we got a fresh example of it last night.

For the second time this year the show’s panel was made up largely of teenagers, supplemented by education minister Simon Birmingham and Labor’s Tanya Plibersek. The students covered a range of topics but it was the discussions around the marriage equality postal survey and education funding that were the most heated.

One student, Lauren McGrath-Wild, argued that the postal survey was “the most realistic way to see great change in regards to LGBT youth and how they are perceived in Australia”, which led her fellow panellist Geordie Brown to respond with “Respectfully, I think your comment about the plebiscite being a good thing is absolutely ludicrous”.

“It is so ludicrous to suggest it’s good thing,” Geordie said. “It hasn’t been a respectful debate at all. There is such an abundance of disrespectful and hateful comments, which truly are making the LGBTI community feel so isolated and feel so unrespected in what should be a really progressive nation.”

Geordie, who ended up as the show’s MVP, also took the opportunity to rip into Birmingham over the government’s schools funding policy. He interrupted an extremely boring and predictable bickering session between Birmingham and Plibersek to talk about the lack of resources at his high school, Tamworth’s Oxley High.

“I want to put this in perspective for you, because I’m from a rural and remote area,” Geordie said. “I go to a school which has to put really strict conditions on each faculty based on how much paper they can print out of a printer because we don’t have enough funding to print resources on paper.

“From my point of view it’s not acceptable for you to sit there and to say something like, ‘If Labor were in government we’d be in this situation’. Because at the end of the day, the Australian public elected you as the government and you are in a responsible position now to fix these problems but instead all you’re saying is, ‘If we had Labor in, this would be the case’.

“You weren’t elected to play the blame game,” Geordie said, before basking in the audience’s applause.

Last night’s episode was another reminder that the show is definitely at its best when the focus is taken off politicians, who rarely deviate from highly scripted comments. The two episodes focusing on younger Australians have been definite highlights and the show would be better served if it included young people more regularly, rather than only including them on special episodes.