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Wilcannia man to form first Indigenous party

Wednesday, 7th October, 2020

Uncle Owen Whyman Uncle Owen Whyman

By Annette Northey

Paakindji man Uncle Owen Whyman of Wilcannia is attempting to form the Indigenous Party of Australia and will hold a meet and greet in Wilcannia on Saturday for people to sign up.

Convenor Owen Whyman, who stood for the Barwon electorate as an Independent in last year’s NSW election, is now attempting to start his own party, the Indigenous Party of Australia, which, if formed, will be the first Indigenous political party in Australia.

The news comes as Indigenous businesswoman and activist Lidia Thorpe will be sworn into federal parliament as a Greens senator this week, replacing Senator Richard Di Natale.

To successfully form a political party, Mr Whyman needs 500 people to join and so far nine people from around the state have committed. They are from Wilcannia, Broken Hill, Dareton, Mutawintji, Newcastle, and the Central Coast.

He will be holding a meet and greet in Wilcannia this coming Saturday at the Burke Park Oval at 12pm, where there will also be a free sausage sizzle. People will be able to come and learn about the Party and sign up.

Mr Whyman said the main concern out in this area is their Baaka, and all the rivers around Australia too.

“Because you’ve got the cotton and all the stuff in the environment that’s damaging our river ways.

“One of the main things is also helping our farmers too,” he said.

“So, we’re organising a barbecue, to try and get people enrolled and signed up.

Mr Whyman says membership of the Party is free and open to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people 18 years of age and over.

“While other political parties appear to be sympathetic to Indigenous concerns, not much ever changes,” he said.

“Indigenous incarceration rates are still through the roof, perhaps the highest in the world for a colonised peoples, children are still being taken from their families at an alarming rate, creating a second wave of the stolen generation, and we want to see Indigenous control of Indigenous school education, particularly for school refusers.

“The Baaka and other rivers are a complete mess as nature has been pushed out of the picture and culture is ignored and sacred sites are desecrated.

“All these issues and more are what we wish to focus upon,” he said.

The party’s key demands include: Protecting the Baaka and all rivers of Australia; ending Indigenous incarceration, except for the most serious offences; Indigenous control of Indigenous education; support for Indigenous businesses through 10 per cent of government purchases; better housing especially in country Australia; and electing Indigenous people to various parliaments in Australia.

Mr Whyman wants to make it clear that anyone can sign up, they don’t have to be Indigenous.

“We’re encouraging everyone and anyone to sign up to become a member of our Indigenous Party,” he said.

“The more the merrier; and If anyone’s got any questions or concerns about it, they are welcome to call me on 0499 342 340.”

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