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23 September 2003

Political commentator Laurie Oakes will be quizzed about the shifting the role of the press gallery and a recent spate of leaks during a student interview at the National Museum of Australia tomorrow.

Three senior high school students will turn the table on Mr Oakes as they ask about political stereotypes and whether he would report a relationship between a minister and a journalist in the same way he handled the Gareth Evans and Cheryl Kernot affair.

The questioning is also expected to cover the media's treatment of female politicians as the students conduct their pre-interview research today by meeting Senator Amanda Vanstone and Dr Carmen Lawrence.

The interview is part of Talkback Classroom, which gives students from across Australia access to key politicians and public figures as part of the national civics curriculum. Mr Oakes is the first journalist to take the stage.

The nationally drawn student panel includes Liz Gwynn from Lake Ginninderra College, Canberra; Aidan Morrison from Launceston Church Grammar School; and Fiona Skerman from Ipswich Girls' Grammar School.

The live public interview will be held in the National Museum's Broadcast Studio at 10.30am on Wednesday, 24 September.

Student preparation for the interview includes meetings with ministerial advisers, parliamentarians, visiting experts and other members of the media, organised by the Parliamentary Education Office.

Other Talkback Classroom guests ahead this year include Nationals leader John Anderson on 21 October, and Labor leadership challenger Kim Beazley and Shadow Treasurer Mark Latham in November.

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. Talkback Classroom has been broadcast nationally on ABC Fly TV, Triple J and Radio National.

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