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9 May 2005

High school students on both sides of the Tasman will question New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark about issues that unite and divide our two countries in the first Talkback Classroom forum to visit New Zealand, on Wednesday.

In a live video link between a Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa student panel in Wellington, and a student panel in the National Museum of Australia in Canberra, Ms Clark will be asked about Australia/New Zealand relations, trade and indigenous issues, and New Zealand's stance on Australia's alliance with the US.

The students will also ask about the comparative roles of Australia and New Zealand in Asia and the Pacific.

Three New Zealand high school students will question Ms Clark in Wellington. Three Australian students will grill her from the National Museum's broadcast Studio, in front of an audience of students, teachers, and others.

Students from three remote-area New Zealand schools will also participate via video link, joining in a post-forum question-and-answer session. The videoconference will be available as a live web cast at:

The Talkback Classroom interview with Prime Minister Clark takes place at 10am EST on Wednesday, May 11.

Talkback Classroom is a National Museum project linking students from across Australia and the world with key politicians and public figures. Earlier guests involved in international hookups include Prime Minister John Howard, the US ambassador to Australia, Tom Schieffer, and - last month - California Congressman Xavier Becerra.

Each student panel has been briefed by key journalists, academics and advisers.

The Australian panel, all Canberra Year 12 students, comprises: Marcus Wolfhagen, Radford College; Ashling James, MacKillop Catholic College and Zoe Zeller, St Francis Xavier College.

The Talkback Classroom interview will be broadcast on ABC Radio National's Life Matters. Talkback Classroom can also be seen on the SBS TV program, School Torque.

For further information please contact Sandy Forbes on 02 6208 5351, 0409 916 481 or Leanda Coleman on 02 6208 5338, 0438 620 710 or email

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