For a week in the last school holidays, I experienced life as a member of parliament, participating in the NSW YMCA Youth Parliament program representing Cabramatta in Australia's oldest parliament, on Macquarie Street.
I was one of 80 young people from across the state who were able to have our voices heard while debating problems that mattered to us as part of the 18th annual Youth Parliament.
It was great to be a part of.
New South Wales is in great hands with young people like Lachlan at the helm.NICK LALICH
I wrote agriculture legislation with other participants, "Innovation and Technology in Agriculture Act 2019", and we designed the bill to encourage agricultural development and research specifically relating to water usage, genetically-modified crops, artificial meat and automation.
We also wanted to increase overall robots and technology in agriculture across the state.
As the Youth Minister for agriculture and water, I was proud to say our bill passed the Youth Parliament but it was also the most controversial bill in the program -- passing by just one vote.
It came down to a heated debate across the chamber on the use of desalination and wastewater recycling in rural areas.
I attacked the Opposition in my speech: "The Opposition seems to have forgotten that NSW doesn't just stand for Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong. There happens to be an entire state which appears second-rate in the eyes of those opposite, while the residents of Sydney are sipping fresh water from multiple dams, people living in regional centres such as Wagga Wagga will be drinking poo water under this plan."
I tried to channel Paul Keating and said the Opposition was "tergiversating" on the matter of wastewater recycling. Tergiversate means "to make conflicting or evasive statements", or to pussyfoot.
As I resumed my seat almost every other member stood and sought to refute my statements.
As I sat there on the front benches, ruminating in the oldest parliament in the southern hemisphere, I realised I'd been a bit cheeky.
It truly was very humbling being surrounded by all the echoes of history in the chamber.
Later, I met with my real-life counterpart Nick Lalich on Macquarie Street to discuss my week-long experience as a youth MP.
Following our discussion and subsequent tour of the House, Mr Lalich went on to surprise me with a commemorative copy of an excerpt from Hansard with a community-impact statement congratulating me on representing our community.
He said: "I congratulate Lachlan on his leadership, determination and drive in creating change for those less fortunate. I can say without a doubt that the state of New South Wales is in great hands with young people like Lachlan at the helm. Indeed our future is looking very bright."
YMCA NSW chief executive Susannah Le Bron said the influential program continues to break ground each year.
"At the YMCA, we believe when young people are inspired they 're powerful. By giving our young people a platform to be heard through this program we not only empower them but open up so many opportunities to improve and strengthen our communities through their ideas," she said.
At the end of the sitting week, all pieces of youth legislation were presented to NSW MPs for consideration. The program has had more than a half-dozen pieces of youth legislation passed into NSW law over the past 18 years, including the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme.
Youth Parliament is managed by YMCA NSW and coordinated by a volunteer taskforce of young people 18 and 24 who facilitate youth-led advocacy, community leadership and education about the parliamentary process. To them I'm truly thankful.