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15 April 2003

Students from the United States will join Australian students in questioning Prime Minister John Howard about the Iraq conflict and other issues next month through a TV hookup between the National Museum and the Smithsonian Institution a new twist in this year's series of Talkback Classroom.

On Wednesday, 7 May at 9.30am, Prime Minister Howard will face a panel of two students from Adelaide and one from Melbourne in front of a schools audience in the Museum's broadcast Studio in Canberra and simultaneously three American students and an audience at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC.

Events in Iraq will also be on the agenda when Defence Minister Robert Hill is the first of this year's Talkback Classroom subjects on Wednesday, 30 April at 10.30am in the Studio.

Guests this year also include Education Minister Brendan Nelson, on Thursday, 22 May and Greens leader Senator Bob Brown, on Tuesday, 24 June.

Now in its third year, Talkback Classroom gives nationally selected senior secondary students from around Australia a voice on matters of their concern, allowing them to question high-profile leaders on issues of national and international significance.

The eight forums at the National Museum in 2003 will be broadcast Australia-wide on FlyTV the ABC's youth digital channel.

'We are very excited about going international for the first time in a year when all of us are focused on international events,' says David Arnold, Manager of the Museum's Schools Program. The students chosen for the international panels will confer via email as preparation for questioning Mr Howard.

Australian student interviewers spend a day at Parliament House meeting politicians and advisers, and learning about the role of Parliament. They also spend a day at the Museum, polishing their journalistic and broadcasting skills before their on-screen debut.

The National Museum encourages schools to use Talkback Classroom as a model for social inquiry, investigating topical issues through media production. Australian teachers can use resources linked to Talkback Classroom and the national civics curriculum through the Museum's web site:

For media enquiries please contact Martin Portus, Public Affairs Manager, National Museum of Australia, on 6208 5351, 0409 916 481 or email

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