Dominic Wy Kanak speaking at the #ClimateElection National Day of Climate Action at the Bondi Pavilion. Photo: Dominic Wy Kanak

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BY VANESSA LIM

Greens candidate for Wentworth and Deputy Mayor of Waverley Council Dominic Wy Kanak has propelled his federal campaign by labelling the federal election, a “climate action election”.

The Greens’ campaign launch for the upcoming federal election has focused on taking action against climate change. Mr Wy Kanak emphasised that climate change has to be tackled through renewable energy.

The Greens’ renewable targets are to reach at least 90 per cent renewable energy by 2030. Mr Wy Kanak said, “It’s more than a vote for me or the Greens. It’s to make sure that they no longer have a political system in place that supports unsustainable policies, and supports extractive industries.

Saving our community

“This election is about saving our community and saving our planet,” he says.

By listening to the community voices of Wentworth, Mr Wy Kanak said it became apparent that many were against climate change and environmental threats such as the Adani Coal Mine.

Max Griffiths, a 31-year-old Bronte local, agreed climate change was the biggest issue that needed to be addressed in the federal election.

Mr Griffiths said, “I believe [climate action] is the most important issue humanity faces.”

He denounced the way the environment has been treated and referred to excessive use of coal, drilling near the Great Barrier Reef and the Great Australian Bight as a few examples of harm to the environment.

“I hope they move away from coal as soon as possible, invest more in green energy and make Australia the world leaders in solar power. We live on the driest, sunniest continent on Earth,” he says.

An Indigenous Boondi Boondi man, Mr Wy Kanak revealed his first motivation to join politics was due to the 10-Point Plan.

“Prime Minister John Howard thought to dismantle parts of the Native Title Act. It allowed Native Title owners and traditional owners to negotiate what happened on the country,” he says.

“I took that as an opportunity to join the voices against those sorts of actions and I tried to run against him in the federal election in his seat of Bennelong.”

As a Waverley Councillor, Mr Wy Kanak says he was working with state and federal governments on a continuous basis to further Indigenous rights, such as having a “pathway to treaties” and “recognition for the unceded sovereignty of first nations people” in Australia.

Education was another important topic the Greens had plans for. A lack of public education in the eastern suburbs has led to overcrowding in schools such as Rose Bay Secondary College.

Mr Wy Kanak says, “The Greens believe in a world-class public education. We are looking at making sure public schools are properly funded.”

Australia is one of the few countries in the world to fund the private school sector.

“We are looking at reducing or shifting the funding that goes to the private school system and to make sure that the public school system is supported,” he says.

Greens policy has also looked at a free TAFE and university system, as well as increasing Youth Allowance.

Planning and infrastructure have also been an issue locals have dealt with. Examples include the planned development of the twin towers which will cause overshadowing on Centennial Park and has catalysed protests against the development.

The previous plans under the Waverley Liberal Council to privatise the Bondi Pavilion also attracted strong local opposition to it.

Mr Wy Kanak says, “We feel that the Liberals at the local level had abandoned the community by taking the town hall and community cultural centre and trying to turn it into an over-commercialised restaurant”.

The Liberal state governments have also changed the planning approval process which has silenced the local council.

Abandoning the community

Mr Wy Kanak says, “In NSW, the parliament has abandoned the community by allowing planning policies that no longer involve elected local councillors in the development area an approval process. Those policies have similarly allowed over-development across the state and in Wentworth”.

Including community voices in the planning process has been welcoming news to locals such as Greens supporter Sam Collins.

Mr Collins says, “Dominic is all about the community, he is not into making as much money as possible for the council and he was a big supporter for keeping the Bondi Pavilion for the locals”.

Mr Collins says Mr Wy Kanak’s care for the community showed during their interaction when they met.

“Something that Dominic doesn’t have that some other politicians do is ego. He is genuinely trying to do the best for the future,” Mr Collins says.