NORTHERN Nationals MPs have hosted school visits over the past two weeks, with a parade of students taking a bird’s-eye view of the parliamentary chambers that make up the NSW seat of government.
About a dozen schools sent their teenage troops to tour the oldest Parliament in the country, and Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson and his Northern Tablelands colleague, Adam Marshall, were there to play tour guides in the house.
About 25 students from Year 6 at The Armidale School were among the visitors as part of a Sydney excursion this month.
According to Mr Marshall, they sat in on a parliamentary session and were even included in Hansard that day.
They were there just ahead of Mr Marshall’s political elevation to acting speaker and missed his first couple of sessions in the chair.
Mr Marshall’s code of discipline for politicians was on display within a day – he ejected the first MP, the Liberal member for Oatley in the St George district of Sydney, signalling he wouldn’t be putting up “with smart-alec, juvenile or silly personal attacks” when he was presiding.
The former Gunnedah mayor said he’d had a bit of experience in chairing meetings before and, while he was going to give a bit of latitude in his new role, he wouldn’t hesitate to keep MPs on track.
“And I don’t mind them giving a bit of cheek, but I can’t stand smart-alec stuff,” Mr Marshall said.
The school visits come under a dedicated government unit program that sees plenty of MPs showing students around Parliament.
Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson hosted school leaders from Barraba Central, Carinya Christian, Farrer Memorial Agricultural, Gunnedah, Oxley, Peel and Tamworth High schools, St Mary’s College at Gunnedah, and Manilla Central on a leadership program tour last Wednesday.
Among the northern students getting in on the political act were three student leaders from Bingara Central School.
Mr Marshall played host to the leadership trio of Gabby Rampling, Lucie Boyle and Kelsey Cooper – as well as their principal, Mark Vale.
The leadership visit included a visit to Government House.
The two Nationals members said school captains and leaders from NSW government, Catholic and independent secondary schools were invited each year to visit and participate in the Parliament’s leadership program.
“This program provides students with the opportunity to meet their elected representatives and to develop their knowledge of constitutional and parliamentary proceedings, including the role of the governor and the workings of the Parliament,” Mr Anderson said.
“It also allows for our school captains and leaders to represent their school, become aware of democratic processes and experience the environment of Parliament House and Government House.”