'That says it all': High school students show up politicians on Q&A
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'That says it all': High school students show up politicians on Q&A

On Monday night’s Q&A, the program’s special high school edition threatened to make the nation’s politicians sound sensible.

It was likely a passing thing - the national nonsense would no doubt set in by morning - but it was a thing nonetheless, as a panel and audience of the nation’s youth challenged the invited political leaders to inspire in them something other than the urge to throw up.

Nationals deputy leader Bridget McKenzie suggested that Scott Morrison was popular with rural voters.

Nationals deputy leader Bridget McKenzie suggested that Scott Morrison was popular with rural voters.Credit:ABC

Everyone was invited to join in, even the deputy leader of the National Party, whose most recent leader - a certain Barnaby Joyce - inspired morning sickness among other things. There was, for instance, the moment when host Tony Jones asked Bridget McKenzie: “Do you have any idea why they wanted to get rid of Malcolm Turnbull?”

The youthful audience anticipated McKenzie’s answer.

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“No.”

Jones rejoined: “That says it all” - a response that took McKenzie up a garden path she clearly wished she had never embarked on as she attempted to explain just how attractive Scott Morrison was to People She Had Recently Met In The Bush.

ScoMo!

Morrison is apparently an idea, a concept, a brand, an opinion-poll cell-dweller whose personal appeal ranks somewhere close to being run over by a bus while on your way to the hospital. And while Q&A deputies like McKenzie are obliged to at least pretend to enjoy the experience, the young people on the panel and in the audience were having none of it.

Mark these names down: Dylan Storer. Joanne Tran. Rueben Davis. Holly Cooke.

These were the young Australians who brought the debate to life, who had no agenda and who made party-political panellists Penny Wong and McKenzie take a step back in admiration.

“There are moments where you feel a bit more optimistic about the future and hearing all of you talk about this in this way made me feel much more optimistic,” said Wong, in response to a discussion on the place of indigenous Australians in education and national debate.

The Senator had it exactly right.

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On issues ranging from climate change to asylum seekers, the young panel and audience challenged the conventional wisdom of the political time.

Storer, 15, brought a voice more mature than most of the Parliament. Davis took the eloquent voice of the First Nations people to his own generation, and previous generations that needed to hear it.

It was enough to make you feel, God forbid, a little inspired.

As Jones said in closing: “It almost makes you think the world will be a better place one day.”

Maybe, and it was good to spot hope on the horizon.