South Coast Leaders Forum

On Friday, 17 August, Elizabeth C and I (Lachlan W) attended a South Coast Leaders Forum at NSW Parliament House. We caught the train from Bomaderry station to Martin Place, attempting to do an amount of study along the way.

We arrived with plenty of time to spare, or so we thought. We grabbed a coffee and started off heading to parliament house. We encountered an issue along the way, having no idea where to go. (Thanks, Mrs Meek!) After going in a few circles we found it, NSW Parliament House! We hung around in the house foyer for a few minutes, meeting prefects from other schools including Nowra High, St Johns and Ulladulla High. Over morning tea we discussed problems in our local areas which we could bring forward to government ministers. After a short time, we all sat down and listened to Madam Speaker Shelley Hancock, who is an ex-teacher from Ulladulla High School and the first female Madam Speaker for NSW State Parliament. She described her occupation to us, before handing over to a number of other ministers. These included Melinda Pavey (Minister for Roads), Stuart Ayers (Minister for Sport), Pru Goward (Minister for Family & Community Services, Minister for Social Housing and Minister for Prevention of Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault), Rob Stokes (Minister for Education), Gladys Berejiklian (the Premier) and Dominic Perrottet (State Treasure). During our time with the Ministers, we had the opportunity to ask questions about the issues we as students had collectively identified in our local areas. This was a fantastic opportunity to understand what drives our country's leaders, and the reasons why they fill their positions in parliament. We had lunch together (with the other students) in Mrs Hancock's personal courtyard, also having the opportunity to have photos. Each school's leadership group was given a gift including certificates of attendance for the students, and three books for the school library. With the conclusion of lunch, we were then lead into the House of Commons. Here we were given a brief history of the NSW State Parliament Building. The last part of our visit was spent listening to question time. This involved watching the opposition asking questions of the government which they hoped could effectively embarrass them in front of the media. The government then asked other members of the government questions with the intent of making themselves look good in front of the media. This was an especially heated question time for the NSW state parliament, as there had been some intense shenanigans throughout the day. This made question time quite entertaining for us as we watched the adults show certain traits of immaturity. Subsequently, we caught the train from Martin Place back to Bomaderry station, ending our 13-hour trip. Nevertheless, it was a worthwhile experience, and one which Elizabeth and I would love to attend again.

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