A high-flying introduction to politics
■ Student Liam Payne, 16, looks to have a bright career in politics ahead of him after his performance turned heads at the Youth Parliament in Perth this month.
The Karratha Senior High School student joined more than 90 youth parliamentarians in a threeday program, where students had the chance to represent local issues on the Parliament floor.
As part of the program, Liam started a petition on Change.org calling for the Stage Government to act on the exorbitant prices of air travel to and from the Pilbara.
Liam was given the opportunity to read his petition to the Legislative Assembly after collecting more than 8000 signatures on Change.org from residents around the region.
He said high aviation costs were hurting families around the Pilbara and their voices deserved to be heard at a State level.
“After several meetings with my local member Brendan Grylls, we hit on the idea of starting a petition on aviation costs after the school paid in excess of $900 for me to get to Perth to participate,” he said.
“I was inspired to put the petition online after seeing a similar petition from Newman resident Cindy Williams gain close to 750 signatures in 24 hours on Change.org. I got a lot of positive feedback about my petition — I had the highest number of signatures by any student, my petition has been signed by 8400 people.”
Mr Payne said his experience in Parliament had left him inspired to pursue a career in politics at the end of high school.
Pilbara MP Mr Grylls, who mentored Liam in preparation for the program, praised his initiative and political nous in Parliament.
“It has been a great experience for him to get a bit of a feel for public life and make a difference for his community,” he said.
“I better watch out for Liam in the future, he has a bright future ahead of him.”
Mr Grylls added it would be beneficial to North West residents if taxpayers’ money was spent on subsidising aviation costs.
“The State Government subsidises bus and train tickets in the South West with taxpayers’ money, but residents in the North West got nothing in return,” he said.
“Before we start talking about subsidies, we need to start getting people into a mindset that it is actually a fair and equitable comparison between train and air travel.”
Karratha Senior High School student Liam Payne, 16, with Pilbara MP Brendan Grylls at the MP’s office in Karratha.