Greens candidate brings First Nations philosophy to Wentworth

The politics of Dominic WY Kanak, the Greens candidate for the seat of Wentworth, reflect a quietly rebellious nature.

A First Nations man from Yuwibara Country, Mr Kanak’s interests lie in helping his community and saving the planet from the ravages of climate change and other environmental concerns threats.

With the 2018 by-election that followed the dumping and then resignation of Federal members and then-prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, Wentworth elected Independent candidate, Dr Kerryn Phelps.

The by-election, in November, shook up Sydney’s wealthiest electorate and showed that it was no longer a shoo-in for the conservatives, meaning there was more space for alternative voices like that of Mr Kanak’s.

“Voters will hopefully be assessing if their 2018 Wentworth by-election primary vote has given them the social return they envisaged harvesting for their democratic investment,” Mr Kanak said in an interview, when asked what he thought was most important to voters in the federal election.

Personally, however, “saving life, on a collective global, national and local scale, through climate action proactive policies” is most important to Mr Kanak.

The causes closest to his heart are protection of the environment and justice for Indigenous communities, which he sees as inherently linked.

“Local councillors can do a lot for our community through an improving path to social justice, peace, eco-sustainability and grassroots democracy via a consensus decision making process,” he said.

“This mirrors closely the traditional Indigenous way of approaching decision-making, with projections to achieve intergenerational equity.

“With climate action facing global climate change, First Peoples’ methods and philosophies are being reconsidered as the strategic path.”

His decision to run in the by-election, and now the federal election, are another step for Mr Kanak in a 20-year career in politics.

Mr Kanak has been a Waverley councillor for the Bondi ward since September 1999.

His career began when the previous incumbent Greens councillor decided to step down.

Mr Kanak was encouraged by his community to run for council, and they backed his campaigning on sovereignty and native title issues at a local level. 

“I wanted to make a political statement against former prime minister John Howard’s government gutting of the best ‘Right to Negotiate’ causes previously in the Native Title Act,” added Mr Kanak.

As for right now, Mr Kanak feels encouraged by his community to stay in politics.

“Our family thinks it is positive to have one of our mob in politics,” he said.

“There’s a need for change agents, and it mostly keeps me on the streets, but out of trouble.”

When asked to reflect on whether he would have done anything differently across his 20-year career, Mr Kanak said: “Being satisfied with the level of community satisfaction returned to me, I would not make any great changes to the way in which I have operated for the public interest, because it has met with community support.”

“I would make many personal life choice changes, but that’s for another time, and maybe a book I might write when I am no longer in politics,” he adds, again showing a streak of defiance that sets him apart from his fellow candidates.