Geroge Negus: Tolerance is an outsider
"AUSTRALIA is not the greatest country on Earth. There is no such thing."
With those words, respected journalist George Negus - the guest speaker at the Ballina Shire Australia Day celebrations yesterday - caught the attention of the 500-strong crowd at the Lennox Head Cultural and Community Centre.
"I am a committed Australian ... but we have our problems here," he said.
They include alcohol-fuelled violence, drugs in sport and domestic violence.
He also said Australia still had a "long way to go" when it came to the treatment of asylum seekers and our Aboriginal people.
"There are 45 million displaced people in the world and we deal with a few thousand of them, at most, every year," Negus said.
"It is not illegal to seek asylum.
"Both sides of politics have handled this issue very badly.
"We argue about things in this country that in other countries just get done."
Negus said he was looking forward to seeing "a country run by (generation) Xs and Ys".
"When it comes time (for this generation) to step aside, do it. Because the young ones will come and push you aside anyway," he said. "There is a lot left for the young ones to do."