What started out as a friendly visit and question-and-answer session between Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and a group of high school students quickly turned into a lively debate that focused on the hot-button issues of the day, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.
After a friendly introduction with senior students from Newtown Performing Arts High School meeting him on the grounds of Australia’s parliament in Canberra, Abbott told the group he would take just three questions and then a photo.
But Abbott didn’t seem ready for the weighty topics raised by the group of 14-year-olds, who questioned him on his opposition to gay marriage, carbon taxes, and the fate of asylum seekers in the country.
“Why are you so against legalising gay marriage?” asked one girl, which made the crowd of teens cheer.
“Well look, I’m not against people having a wonderful relationship,” Abbott responded, “I’m all in favour of people having loving, permanent relationships, but I guess it’s a definitional thing.”
Then another student interjected, saying, “I have a lot of gay friends, and it’s sad to think that they can’t get married because they’re attracted to the same sex,” which had the crowd cheering once more.
“I’m getting a clear message, alright,” Abbott said, wanting to move on. “Ok, let’s have a bloke’s question.”
Despite originally saying he’d only take three questions, he decided to take one more.
The Guardian reports:
Thinking he’d answered the questions to their satisfaction, he gave them one more opportunity, and was asked: “Not saying I don’t trust you or anything, but I was just wondering … why is a man a minister for women? And why is a man in control of the rights for women?”
His response was to turn the moment into a political campaign: “If you think we need to have more women in decision making, you should join the Liberal party and work your way up,” he said.
One student filmed the entire awkward exchange and posted it to YouTube, where it’s received nearly 200,000 views in just two days.
Here’s the video:
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