Wangaratta students pass bill in YMCA Youth Parliament

SPRING ST: Will Christie, Ashley Fuller, Porter Mattinson, Elinor Howe, Jessica Hordern and Simone Healy outside the Victorian parliament. Picture: REHILA HYDARI

SPRING ST: Will Christie, Ashley Fuller, Porter Mattinson, Elinor Howe, Jessica Hordern and Simone Healy outside the Victorian parliament. Picture: REHILA HYDARI

SIX Wangaratta school students got a taste of life on Spring Street last week, when they brought forward a bill to the YMCA Youth Parliament.

Wangaratta High School students Will Christie, Ashley Fuller, Simone Healy, Elinor Howe and Porter Mattinson and Cathedral College student Jessica Hordern travelled to Melbourne to present their bill ‘Mandatory Use of Biodegradable or Recyclable Bags’.

Their bill passed the Youth Parliament, and will now be passed on to Victorian environment minister Lily D’Ambrosio for her consideration.

The legislation, which was drafted by the students themselves, proposed a move away from single-use plastic bags and replacing them with a bag similar to the biodegradable ones used throughout Wangaratta, Wodonga and Albury for compost waste. 

The bill passed the Youth Parliament on a unanimous vote.

The Wangaratta team was one of 26 across Victoria to take part in the annual event, which is intended to give young people aged 16 to 25 a glimpse into parliamentary life and have them be heard at the highest levels of government.

The event also features a Youth Press Gallery, who cover the event in words and pictures.

Wangaratta High year 11 student Porter Mattinson was one of the six students to participate in the program.

The 16-year-old said having the opportunity to draft a bill and debate it in Victorian parliament had been valuable.

“Putting the bill together was really enjoyable, it was very different to what any of us had done before,” he said.

“It was interesting to work out how it was worded, how all the clauses were put together to fulfil our goals.” 

With supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths announcing their move away from single use plastic bags late last week, Mr Mattinson said the group had taken confidence from the announcement.

“We had a meeting and congratulated ourselves a little bit,” he said.

“Obviously our bill had no link to it, but it felt like we were helping that movement so hearing that news come through was great.

“I became quite passionate about what plastic bags have done to the environment while I was writing and researching the proposal.

“Being able to sit in those chairs gave everything a sense of importance, it made me put more effort in.”