MOST year nine Emmaus College students completed their first experience with politicians and academics debating the future of Queensland on Tuesday.
The school hosted a political forum with the panel including Logan councillor Laurie Koranski, Scenic Rim MP Jon Krause, Wright MP Scott Buchholz, Logan MP Linus Power, Griffith University law academic Dr Phillipa England and planning professor Paul Burton.
Panelists fielded questions from students on an array of topics including the controversial Adani Carmichael Mine coal project, population growth, residential development, urban planning, roads and the Queens Wharf development in Brisbane.
Emmaus College social science teacher Robyn Coase said students would use the political debate to inform written assignments arguing for or against an economic development.
While a clear majority of students raised their hand in opposition to projects like the Adani coal mine on environmental grounds, Ms Coase said she was looking forward to seeing a diversity of assignments which showed both sides of the argument.
“If students have an opinion about something it is important for them to be exposed to information on both sides before they really make a strong decision,” she said.
“Many of the students haven’t had exposure to rich political debate and hearing different sides of an argument make them understand it is never simple.”
Emmaus College student Charlize Phippen questioned the panel about how developments such as Queens Wharf would benefit disadvantaged people while Georgia Ward was critical of a federal government proposal to require some newly arrived migrants to settle outside capital cities.
Ms Phippen said her classmates were part of a progressive generation which was often at odds with the politicians.
Wright MP Scott Buchholz challenged students to constantly question their views.
“If you think Adani is bad (on environmental grounds) do a google search to find out what Indian firm built the largest solar panel. Would they be good? If you do that google search you would find that is Adani,” he said.
“If you take one thing away from this forum take away the concept that it is okay to challenge what you have been told. It is okay to challenge what you read in the press...I challenge you to open your minds and get information from elsewhere...get a second opinion.”
Logan MP Linus Power said it was important for students to be exposed to political debate from a young age.
“As a former high school teacher, I think civics education and having people participate more in civil society is vital for the long term benefit of our economy,” he said.
“It is great that they heard directly from people involved in the decision making process. Decision making is a trade off of all the things you would like to do and what is possible.”