6.5 C
Byron Shire
July 23, 2024

In Conversation with George Negus

Latest News

Byron and Tweed Councils pursue housing project dreams

Long-held council dreams of new, affordable housing on public land in the Byron and Tweed Shires are closer to being realised, mayors say, with state and federal government support.

Other News

Support Tweed’s rough sleepers in Tweed Heads and join the Community Sleepout

Vinnies and Fred’s Place are asking for the residents of the Tweed Shire to come together for a night and experience what it is like to be homeless.

Affordable housing

The Country Women’s Association of NSW’s policy is to advocate to governments to prioritise the construction of social and...

Appeal following alleged assault – Tweed Heads South

Police are appealing for assistance to locate two men following an alleged assault in Tweed Heads South.

Regional ratios rollout NSW begins in Lismore

The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) has welcomed the announcement of nurse-to-patient ratios at two regional NSW hospitals but has expressed concern over the pace of the phased rollout.

Middle East veterans

Thanks for your excellent article, Paul Bibby. Exactly the publicity and coverage we wanted. Many Middle Eastern veterans struggle to...

Living in a cloud world

Last week the world had a taste of the kind of chaos which was predicted, but failed to eventuate, 24 years ago. This time the millennium bug couldn't be blamed. Instead, a tiny human coding error temporarily paralysed banks, airports, media outlets and other organisations around the planet, connected by the cloud of data that binds us all.

George-Negus---Boomerang-LaunchMandy Nolan

George Negus is one of Australia’s most loved broadcasters. Loved for what has been called his ‘warm, common touch’, as a journalist Negus has long been the champion of the underdog, and a voice of reason when it comes to tackling complex social issues. Negus is one of the featured speakers at Boomerang Festival. Seven caught up with George in the leadup to his festival appearance.

What do you think White Australians could learn from their Indigenous brothers and sisters?

In a few words – a hell of a lot; not just about this continent that we now share as a country, but also – dare I say it – about life itself! As a culture and as a people, our Indigenous brothers and sisters have been making sense out of the nonsense we blithely call life for tens and tens of thousands of years…

How has your connection with Indigenous Australia changed you?

How long have I got? Frankly, as the oldest race and culture on the planet, they put us into perspective. They are have lived history and are still living history. They force us to think what it might have been like living without the myriad of things – so-called ‘progress’ — that we historical blown-ins apparently can’t live without!

We’ve had those racist outbursts in football of late, one involving Eddie Macguire, who should have known better. Why do you think those values keep cropping up in a less racist Australia?

You mean ‘lack of values’? Eddie’s actually a decent sort of ‘blokey’ bloke white Australian who momentarily lost his decency because of what has been correctly termed ‘casual racism’ – casual, widespread, but still offensive stuff we’ve all probably been guilty of when we thought we were merely being light-hearted and funny. That’s an explanation, by the way – not an excuse!

Do you think that we as a nation are still racist?

Not as a nation – but there is certainly a hefty bloody chunk of the population who are either xenophobic, bigoted or outright racists against not just Indigenous Australians, but anyone who’s not a white Anglo-Saxon Australian. That sort of mindless, irrational prejudice is usually based on fear and ignorance – and you can’t legislate against either of those character flaws.

What are the things that you think would help Australia become a more integrated and culturally aware country?

The term more culturally awarerings true – but, to be honest, the word integrated doesn’t. What do we mean by more integrated? Do we mean more like us, as in non-Indigenous Australians? How do we integrate Indigenous Australians without them becoming less of ourselves? I don’t have a trite, simplistic answer to those sorts of imponderables. But, I believe that we do have to keep asking the loaded questions – no matter how tough they are. That said, despite the apparent desirability of getting rid of the racist elements in the Constitution, personally, politically and legally, I am not sure that and merely recognising – whatever that means? – our first Australian brothers and sisters constitutionally would do the trick. It could even isolate and separate ‘us and them’, as it were, even further. What about absolutely the same rights for all bloody Australians… ? That said, acknowledging in the Preamble to the Constitution that we invaded an inhabited country in 1788 and ‘nicked it’ to make it a British colony might be a start. That was our first unacceptable racist act. Saying ‘sorry’ was the beginning of a reconciliation process – not the end!

You and Ernie Dingo both have a bit of an Aussie iconic status. Is that a funny thing to live with? Does it ever become embarrassing or intrusive?

Sorry for answering some of your questions with a question! Old professional habits die hard, I guess. But, what does iconic status mean? Everybody knows who you are and – rightly or wrongly, for better or worse – has an opinion about you, maybe? I reckon my old mate Ernie would agree that if you’ve thrust yourself into Australians’ homes, indeed their lives, via bloody television as often as he and I have over the past few decades, you have to be pretty thin-skinned to find people’s interest in you either ‘embarrassing or intrusive’. But, true, it is a bit funny…

What should we be expecting from you at Boomerang?

To make an invited contribution to Boomerang… It’s is a hell of a good idea, not just a weekend of fun and music, but a terrific opportunity for what the academics might call ‘cross-cultural fertilisation’. Our recently lost friend, Australian of the Year, Indigenous mentor and the lead singer of the internationally famous Yothu Yindi Band called it ‘both-ways’ – Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians getting together to enjoy learning about each other. Ignorance is not bliss!

Catch George at Boomerang Festival in conversation with Indigenous chefs Mark Olive and Clayton Donovan and also Ernie Dingo for the NRL footy panel.

October 4–6, Bluesfest site.






Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Tweed council catching up on DA backlog

Tweed Shire Council staff say they’re catching up on and reducing the number of outstanding development applications [DAs] lodged locally.

King tide flooding in Ballina

King tides in Ballina are expected to cause minor flooding of some local roads this week.

Teenage girl missing from Coffs Harbour

Police are asking the public for help finding a teenage girl reported missing from the Coffs Harbour area over the weekend.

Ballina motel siege: captives freed after 6 hrs

A man is to face court today after allegedly holding a woman and a small child against their will in a Ballina unit on Friday.