POLITICS

Malcolm Turnbull Did A Q&A With Schoolkids And It Was Amazing

He explained agricultural runoff to six-year-olds on a whiteboard.

26/05/2017 4:13 PM AEST | Updated 27/05/2017 5:10 PM AEST
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At the end of another long parliament week in Canberra, Malcolm Turnbull took some time out on Friday to visit Bondi Public School in his eastern Sydney electorate of Wentworth, and was unexpectedly grilled by some six-year-olds about the Adani mine and the Great Barrier Reef.

One of the hardest parts about being Prime Minister must be the high-pressure interviews, the constant media attention, having to answer the tough questions from top journalists on a daily basis. After being grilled for several weeks straight on the federal budget, the PM might have thought he would be safe from hard questions in a class of young kids.

He thought wrong.

Turnbull hosted a Facebook Live video on his page on Friday morning, sitting on a low chair in a colourful classroom with a bunch of students sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of him. It started innocently enough, with the PM smiling broadly and asking the kids what they liked about their school. He was warm and friendly, chatting easily with the kids, then opening up to questions. The first one -- "what is your favourite thing to do at your office?" -- was dispatched easily, before the unexpectedly hard questions started.

"What are you doing to save the barrier reef?" timidly asked one boy.

Turnbull, seemingly forgetting he was talking to six-year-olds, started talking about "playing our part" and the Paris climate agreement, then seguing into talk about agriculture and chemicals. Unfortunately a few of the kids seemed to tune out a little bit, like our friend in the yellow shirt.

Then came another curveball.

"Are you getting rid of that mine that was putting all of that waste into the Great Barrier Reef?" asked another student, seemingly referencing Adani's controversial Carmichael mine.

"Well this is the importance of stopping run-off into the reef. Most of the run-off into the reef comes from agriculture actually," the PM said, before education minister Simon Birmingham jumped in for an assist. He started talking about dredging. More of the kids seemed to tune out. Suddenly, Turnbull had a brainwave.

"Maybe I can draw something for you, to explain... do you want me to show you how water moves through the landscape?" Turnbull said, jumping to his feet and grabbing a nearby whiteboard and marker.

He drew a river, and started talking about fertilisers, manure and chemicals being washed into the river.

"One of the important things we've got to do is slow water down," he said, talking about land-clearing techniques and trying to explain a swale to the kids.

(For your information, swales are "linear, depressed channels that collect and transfer stormwater", according to Melbourne Water. It's a term I wasn't familiar with. We wonder what the Bondi Public students thought about it)

Unfortunately he didn't actually answer the question about the mine.

Later, the PM got questions about sea snakes in Singapore, what his favourite school is, and whether he was in charge of Tasmania "because it isn't attached to the mainland".

It's amazing. You need to watch the whole thing.

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