WHARTON: National Congress has same flaw as ATSIC
Veteran activist and former ATSIC regional councilor Wayne ‘Coco’ Wharton (Kooma) says a congress of First Nations “would be more strengthening in terms of gaining proper dialogue in dealing with the broader society”. IMAGE: Brendon Qu
by Callum Dixon
Established three years ago following the downfall of ATSIC in 2005, the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples will hold its biannual elections later this year. Veteran activist and sovereign rights campaigner Wayne ‘Coco’ Wharton is calling on Congress to restructure its membership to represent each tribe/nation rather than just offering membership to individuals and organizations. Mr Wharton said members should “come with authority from our own nations”. “Whether it be the Kooma, Waka Waka, Gamilaraay or any of the other First Nations, we believe that we each belong to a society, a tribe, a nation, and we operate as such. Before the whitefellas came here and before the colonial democratic April 10, 2013
process came here, we had our own form of governance that allowed more than 400 different nations to coexist on the one bit of ground. That was done by each nation nominating their own representatives to talk on their behalf.” Mr Wharton, a former ATSIC regional councilor and Kooma man, claims membership based on representing each of the tribes would give Congress more accountability and that the current democratic system is a “bastardized numbers game”.
“First peoples, First nations, what’s the difference? It’s not something we should get bogged down in. People from every country [tribe/language group] have the right to become members, to have the same voting rights and the same ability to be able to have their aspirations heard. ”
“It would be more strengthening in terms of gaining proper dialogue in dealing with the broader society. I knew ATSIC would not work because it operated on a pseudo-democratic basis that was deliberately open for corruption.” Brian Butler (Aranda & Loritja), who is Congress’ board of directors, dismissed such talk saying “we shouldn’t be getting stuck into or waylaid by that sort of thing at this stage”. PAGE 1
Brian Butler says “we shouldn’t be getting waylaid with that sort of thing at this stage”. IMAGE: Facebook