Geoff Helisma |
With the words of Prime Minister Scott Morrison still ringing in their ears, 40 students signed a register and made their thoughts about climate change known at Page MP Kevin Hogan’s office last Friday November 30.
Earlier in the week, the Prime Minister said in parliament, in part: “…We do not support our schools being turned into parliaments.
“…what we [the government] want is more learning in schools and less activism in schools.”
However, Prime Minister Morrison overlooked the fact that the Constitution Education Fund, whose patron-in-chief is Governor General Peter Cosgrove, offers its major civics education initiative, The Constitution Education Fund School Parliaments (CSP) program, “to both primary schools and secondary schools across Australia”.
“The outcome of School Parliaments is that students become empowered, knowledgeable, responsible, engaged and active citizens,” the fund’s website states.
The Independent spoke via phone with several students at the protest.
Fifteen-year-old Reminy, a Maclean High School student, said she had sailed to Vanuatu with her family, where she “saw heaps of amazing places and a lot of people who rely solely on the ocean”.
“The more villages we went to, the more people told us it was getting hotter.”
However, Reminy holds wider fears for the planet, including the rubbish she saw washed up the beaches and other pollution.
“It’s about the entire planet for me, it’s about everything,” she said.
On what the Prime Minister said in parliament: “I completely disagree … because we are the future and we are the people that are happening now.
“We want to be able to enjoy life and be a part of deciding our future; we want to be heard.
“I think a lot of people think we are being brainwashed by our parents.
“We are not; this is about what we are feeling.
“This whole idea was started by kids, not adults.”
Cassi, 15, who is from Iluka but has been residing in England for the past year, said: “I want the government to understand how severe climate change is and to finally do something about it.”
Cassi said she had done her own research to inform her decision to protest.
Max, 13, from McAulay Catholic College, said he “came down here just to let society and the community know that kids really do care about our environment”.
“If we keep going the way we are we’re going to wreck our world,” he said.
“Digging coal from the ground is not just affecting one spot [where it is mined or the country of origin]; it’s affecting the whole environment, the whole eco system.”
Max maintained that his views were his own and that he took “a bit of everything” into consideration to form his opinion.
“We’ve been doing a bit on coal in class (what it affecting) and a couple of experiments and that sort of stuff; we’re also learning about what else they are mining.
“I learnt a bit from my parents as well.
“We’re not going to stop it [climate change] but we are definitely going to have to slow it down.”
For his part, Mr Hogan said: ““Free speech is a wonderful right we have in this country.
“I applaud anyone, including our youth, who exercise this freedom we have.”