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I believe in the People of Wentworth.

Sovereignty, unceded over 248 years, yet still disregarded as we rally against Our People’s intergenerational trauma of invasion and dispossession of Our Lands and Waters still drives me to exist as a politically engaged Indigenous First Nations Elected Representative for my Community.

I was born on Yuwibara Country (near Mackay) and am of Torres Strait and South Sea Islander heritage, and I’m a grandfather of a Murri Yorta Yorta family.

Our People’s struggle from the Torres Strait, and other islands claimed as Australia, to the mainland. The strength and innocent beauty of Our Elders and cultures, the monumental Spirit of Nature and the survival challenges we all face push me to advocate and activate community politics.

It’s why I first ran for NSW Local Government nearly 20 years ago. Today I’m Deputy Mayor at Waverley Council and standing as the Greens candidate for Wentworth as a response to community feedback on my work as Councillor in boondiboondi Bondi Ward.

For me, the Greens was a natural political fit. With a political philosophy based on the principled four pillars of social justice, ecological sustainability, grassroots politics and peace and disarmament. The pillar of grassroots politics is where everyone’s voice is heard before a final decision is made, is just like that of the First Nations Peoples of this land and surrounding islands.

I believe in the People of Wentworth.

They are my neighbours, my constituents and have been my friends for decades. Our Wentworth community cares about action on climate change, Aboriginal justice and tackling the excessive power corporate interests have on national public policy.

For me, the Greens was a natural political fit. With a political philosophy based on the principled four pillars of social justice, ecological sustainability, grassroots politics and peace and disarmament.

But we can’t take the action needed to deliver a fairer and more sustainable Country while coal and fossil fuel companies call the shots in federal parliament. No politician can deliver for the public if they are paid for by a corporation. I’m proud of the fact that the Greens NSW have never taken corporate donations.

Our cities are unaffordable, our public schools are overflowing and public transport is in meltdown.

People I talk with expect politicians to address these issues. Instead we are subjected to a federal parliament circus, distracted by ego and blind careerism rather than addressing the national interest. This is why we are having the Wentworth by-election. I know my Community and Wentworth deserves better.

My work on Waverley Council and as a First Nations advocate is connected with being the Secretary of the NSW Reconciliation Council Management Committee. I am a former Director on the Board of Tranby Aboriginal College, as well as President of the NSW Local Government Aboriginal Network.

Justice for First Nations Peoples is about a lot more than well-crafted reconciliation statements, apologies and acknowledgements.

While all of these are important, real Justice needs to start with meaningful action. Not once since colonisation has a prison guard or police officer been convicted in NSW after the death in custody of an Indigenous person. This travesty must be addressed. The second half of the David Dungay Coronial Inquiry (from 4 March 2019) will be a big test for the Australian justice system. That’s why the World will be watching the inquiry with a keen interest and sharp eyes.

This requires politicians to channel their constituent power into changing the law so that First Nations Peoples are no longer the most incarcerated people on the planet.

This means politicians not condemning Aboriginal People with ‘Life style choices’ and scapegoating Aboriginal People living in endemic poverty with structural disadvantage.

It means not allowing so many Aboriginal children to be taken from their families.

It means reinvesting in Communities and extended kinship networks to deliver on the promise of Self-Determination so that children can be safe and prosper on Country and with Family.

Justice for First Nations Peoples is about a lot more than well-crafted reconciliation statements, apologies and acknowledgements.

It means signing Treaties that recognise First Nations continuing Sovereignty and crafting a new and enduring compact between First Nations Peoples and all Peoples that have come here since 1770 so that we can truly base our Country on principles of Justice, the honesty of Truth-Telling and reconciliation.

Listening to the Wisdom of First Nations Elders and Knowledge Keepers – this is what that means.

If we take the time and have the patience, we can hear them tell us that no Child, no Mother, no Human Being should be jailed for seeking refuge on Our Land. We can hear that offshore refugee detention camps have to be closed.

They also tell us to Respect the Land, and acknowledge the Land and Waters’ central role in sustaining and nurturing Our Future.

If We listen they will tell us to tread lightly on the Earth, to care for all people, to provide a home for everyone, to stop polluting Our Air and Water and to tackle climate change as a moral and spiritual imperative.

I listen.
I believe most people do.
So it’s Time that politicians did too.

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