Senior cabinet minister Christopher Pyne has criticised tens of thousands of Australian students striking over inaction on climate change, saying the move will damage their education.
Friday’s country-wide mass protest comes months after students first skipped school over climate action, a move condemned by the prime minister.
This time students are taking part in a day of global action with more than 90 countries participating.
“Usually strikes are when employees withdraw their labour from an employee so I’m not sure why the students are withdrawing themselves from school. It only damages their education,” Mr Pyne told Nine on Friday.
He said the students should be in school, and if they wanted to engage in political activism it should be on their own time.
Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan is also against the protests, and has urged students to remain at school for today’s National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence.
Labor frontbencher Joel Fitzgibbon defended student activism, saying children should be encouraged to express their opinions.
“I don’t think any student is going to miss out on their career because they missed a few hours of school today,” he said.
“As long as they are safe and their parents know where they are and they are marching or protesting in a respectful way, in a responsible way, I think that is fine.”
Other politicians including Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and New South Wales Opposition Leader Michael Foley have voiced their support for students taking part in the climate change protests.