Wayne Wharton: ‘All power to the workers, Treaty now!’

Wayne Wharton. Photo: Alex Bainbridge

Prominent Aboriginal elder Wayne Wharton is making a tilt for the senate in Queensland this election, campaigning on issues such as justice for Aboriginal people, justice reinvestment and an improved aged care system.

Wharton told Green Left Weekly: “The systems that we’ve had for the last 230 years is broken, they’re useless.”

These include the legal system which, he says, is based on a “feudal system of punishment” instead of rehabilitation, and the two-party system, in which the big parties have become dominated by “top-end-of-town corruption”.

Wharton believes the government should reflect the diversity of the people and that he has a lot offer.

“It’s about time the rest of Australia said: ‘Let’s get a couple of First Nations people in there’ to address First Nations issues.

“How we answer the sovereignty question is a big problem that can only be addressed by First Nations people leading the discussion on it.”

Another issue Wharton wants to address is poverty.

“I want to see a living wage” he told GLW. “[The Community Development Program in remote Australia] shouldn’t be there, voluntary work shouldn’t be there and work for the dole shouldn’t be there.

“The social benefits that people take home, whether it’s Single Parents payment or Newstart, have to be increased. It has got to be more reflective of the cost of living.”

Wharton said natural resources belong to the people, not the government, and that the benefits should come back to the people, especially the poor.

“Our people were never born into poverty,” he said. “We were placed into poverty as a direct policy of colonisation.

“We shouldn’t be in poverty. Our people should be living off the royalties given to them by birth.

“Compensation has to be paid to our people for the desecration of their minerals and their rights.

“You can’t have a treaty or reconciliation unless you have economic sustainability for our people.”

Wharton has also raised opposition to the proposed Adani coalmine and supports the legalisation of marijuana.

[For more information visit whartonforsenate.com.]

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