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Thursday, 4 April 2019
Page: 14994


Ms CHESTERS (Bendigo) (10:49): Recently, Saint Francis of the Fields Primary School student Chelsea Breene wrote to me about her concerns on climate change, or the inaction of this place in relation to climate change. Saint Francis of the Fields is one of our Catholic schools based in Strathfieldsaye. I was invited by Chelsea to come and meet with her and her fellow students to discuss this issue. They raised a number of concerns. Particularly important to Chelsea was a crackdown on plastic, making sure that we stop plastic getting into our waterways. She wanted to see us ban the plastic bag in particular. The students raised concerns about the use of thermal coal, particularly in relation to the impact that it is having on our carbon emissions. They raised lots of ideas that they had on how we can better address and act on climate change.

This was similar to a conversation that I had with the students at Castlemaine North Primary School. I should give a shout-out to the Castlemaine North Primary School students for the conversation that we had about what they would do if they were the Prime Minister of this country. They said they would crack down on illegal dumping, particularly of rubbish. They said they wanted to see greater protection for species in danger. They also expressed their concern about climate change. There are other issues that they raised that they would address if they were Prime Minister. Some students said that we're not doing enough to support people who are homeless, that we need to make sure we help those most in need so that they have a comfortable home and enough money to buy food.

The final school I wish to really give a shout-out today is St Ambrose Parish Primary School in Woodend. They've been here this week and they had the opportunity to do the tour of Parliament House. Last Friday we held a leadership forum with the mayor of the Macedon Ranges shire. We held a political forum and discussion—our own Q&A. In that, the students asked questions about local infrastructure. They also asked questions about women in leadership. They couldn't understand why in 2019 we don't have fifty-fifty representation of women in this parliament. They didn't buy the merit argument that's been put forward by those opposite. They really were surprised. They supported Labor's position and where we will be after the next election. They asked whether it was about the workplace, about the culture or about the way in which we support women in politics in regard to caring responsibilities. I did say, 'It's all of the above, but some of us here are working on it.' These students from across these schools are our future leaders, and we can be very proud of them.