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Aussie and US teenagers take on the PM

2 JUNE 2003

Prime Minister John Howard will be quizzed by both American and Australian high school students this Wednesday at the National Museum of Australia, in a link between Canberra and the Washington's Smithsonian Institute.

Mr Howard will be questioned on Australia's immigration policy, the nation's role in the new world order, civil liberties and children in detention centres.

The interview is being recorded live as part of the Talkback Classroom program, linking students from across Australia, and now the world, with key politicians and public figures. The 'World After September 11' theme links with the Smithsonian's current exhibition commemorating lives lost in the World Trade Centre bombing.

The interview with the Prime Minister will be in the National Museum's Studio at 9.30am this Wednesday, 4 June.

For the past three months the international student panel has been meeting weekly online to define key issues.

"Our American friends knew very little about Australia and the Prime Minister when we first met," said Talkback Classroom convenor Stephen Cutting. "Their main impressions involved immigration and the Tampa, but recent events in Iraq and discussions with their Australian counterparts, have broadened that understanding."

The US panellists are Washington 11th graders Gordon Su from Montgomery Blair High School, Eli Golfarb from Field School and Luci Hague from Springbook High School.

Mr Howard will also be interviewed by fellow cricket devotee Daniel Quinlivan from Blackfriars Priory School in Adelaide; South African-born Moshidi Manaka from Thornbury Darebin College in Melbourne; and junior Democrat Ann Boyapati from MacRobertson High School in Melbourne.

Students prepare by meeting ministerial advisers, opposition spokespeople, visiting experts and members of the media, organised by the Parliamentary Education Office.

Future Talkback Classroom guests include Greens leader Bob Brown on 24 June.

Schools are encouraged to use Talkback Classroom as a model for social inquiry, investigating topical issues through the media as part of the national civics curriculum.