Student day at Writers
FORMER Greens leader Bob Brown proved that he still has star pulling power even with young people during an appearance at Byron Bay Writers' Festival yesterday.
Byron Bay High School student Zoe Free had the thrill of introducing Mr Brown, who quit the Senate in June, to a packed marquee at the festival's Secondary School Day yesterday.
"I was a bit star-struck," the 16-year-old admitted.
"He's a good role model for youth and he connects really well with young people."
Mr Brown also proved that he still has fire in his belly despite his retirement.
He revealed to the crowd that he has been trying to get the Australian Government to offer asylum to Canadian Sea Shepherd captain Paul Watson, who is on the run from the Japanese government.
"I'm back to being an environmental activist and very happy about it too," he said with a grin.
Asked how he had maintained his integrity and optimism during his nearly 30-year political career, Mr Brown said camaraderie with other environmentalists including those in the Byron Shire had given him succour as well as the companionship of his long-time partner Paul.
He said it was natural to be depressed about the state of the world but he urged the young audience to try and focus on the positives.
Mr Brown hung around for 30 minutes after his session signing autographs and having his picture taken with admirers.
More than 800 students and 50 teachers from more than 20 schools between Grafton and the Gold Coast attended the first day of the festival, which was not open to the public.
The event, which is expected to attract 3000 book lovers every day, kicks off in earnest today and finishes on Sunday.
Mr Brown will again be interviewed at 10.15am today, this time by ABC TV journalist Kerry O'Brien.
Other highlights today include celebrated Australian author Tom Keneally in conversation at 1.30pm.
If you need a laugh, at 10.45am comedians Mandy Nolan and Fiona O'Loughlin will be fronting a session called The Bad Mothers' Club.