Renowned political activist, Public broadcaster, and practicing Medical Doctor, Dr Joe Toscano has raised his hand as an independent candidate for the Victorian Senate in the 2020 Federal elections. Joe developed his suite of refreshingly progressive social policies, and how to cost them, during years of thinking about the world and being politically active in it. Importantly for West Papuans, he is pursuing the development of an Independent Foreign Policy to facilitate federally legislated support for West Papua’s independence and self-determination.
About Joe Toscano, by Jacob Rumbiak
“Australia’s democracy would be poorer and less equitable without Dr Joe’s intelligent and dedicated activism. For years I’ve heard him educating people on the radio, and watched him campaigning in boardrooms and on the street for a better system of Public Housing and Public Health and for a Universal Basic Income.
Joe’s hard work and innovative thinking has ensured the survival of the West Papua Rent Collective, which has financed our inspiring green (5-star-energy) office in Docklands since it opened in 2014.
As a Senate-candidate Joe is lobbying for an Independent Foreign Policy so that Australia can help us in the United Nations to liberate our Green Melanesian State from Indonesia” (Jacob Rumbiak, Foreign Affairs, West Papua Transitional Government)
Dr Joe Toscano: “Be realistic, demand the impossible”
Below is a downloadable summary of Joe’s policies (and costings), which, essentially, are a comprehensively developed case for putting the Public Interest before Corporate Interests. “No one in this resource rich country should be living in poverty. The problem isn’t the size of the cake. The problem is how the cake is divided. It is unacceptable to have 1.2 million children living in poverty and one-third of Australians living on less than $500 per week”.
Dr Joe Toscano on West Papua
Joe’s concern for the West Papuans right to self-determination has deepened since he established the West Papua Rent Collective in 2014. The WP Rent Collective is a growing galaxy of Australians who believe that financing the Federal Republic of West Papua office at 838 Collins St, Docklands is an investment in the future of an independent Melanesian state. The inspiring green (five-star energy) space is co-ordinated by Jacob Rumbiak, the Foreign Affairs Ministers of the WP Transitional Government, and managed by the FRWP Women’s Office within the guidelines of Self-determination, Sustainability and Good Governance.
Joe’s primer on West Papua was his formidably artistic wife, Ellen José, who many of the West Papuans in Melbourne called ‘Muma’. Ellen was from Torres Strait, the bridge of water between Australia and New Guinea, whose indigenous island people are Melanesian, like the coastal and island Papuans. (It is because Torres Strait Islanders are Melanesian, not Aboriginal, that their green-blue-white flag sits alongside the red-black-yellow Aboriginal flag in Australian Government offices and the offices of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners).
The Melanesian states are West Papua, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Bougainville, Vanuatu (and the Kanak of New Caledonia). It was the Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands who finally, after 53 years of brutal colonisation, brought West Papua “out of the darkness into the light” with his artful arrangement of the territory within the Melanesian Spearhead Group in 2015 (listen to Sogavare’s inspiring Martin-Luther-type speech, below). Sogavare’s subsequent address to the UN General Assembly, alongside Tongan Prime Minister Pohiva’s, paved path for the first motion of support for West Papua by the Pacific Islands Forum (18 UN states) and African Caribbean Pacific Group (79 UN states) in 2019, and the UN’s unprecedented condemnation of Indonesia’s behaviour in West Papua in 2021.
Prime Minister Sogavare’s Speech, Melanesian Spearhead Group Summit, 2015
Concerning the present controversy over the Solomon Islands contract with China, it is worth noting the caution of a Solomon Islands Member of Parliament: “… the region’s countries don’t want to get dragged into a geopolitical tussle between Washington and Beijing … You’ve got to remember, when two elephants fight, it is the grass that gets trampled.”
A couple of other reasons to Vote 1 for Dr Joe Toscano
i) Dr Joe was the driving force of the lovely living monument in Franklin St to Maulboyheenner and Tunnerminnerwait, the Aboriginal freedom fighters hanged in public by the colonial government in 1842. And he has been working to establish 3 June as Mabo Day since the High Court replaced Terra Nullius (empty land) with Native Title in 1992.
ii) In 2004, Joe established the Spirit of Eureka, a movement inspired by the relevance—for present day justice, democracy and sovereignty struggles—of the Ballarat gold-miners historic revolt against the British colonial authority and the inequities it forced upon them.
Handy handout to help us get the numbers for Dr Toscano
Want to know more about the WP Transitional Government?
The West Papua Transitional Government was established on 1 December 2020 after a petition for independence, hand-signed by 1.8M Papuans, was presented to the United Nations in 2017 and 2019. It governs the people of a richly endowed sovereign state (that has a defined territory and permanent population, and capacity to enter into relations with other states). It is accountable to the people’s key political organisations—the Federal Republic of West Papua, Coalition for the Liberation of West Papua and West Papua National Parliament—and to their Tribal Councils and the WP Council of Churches. The parliamentary system has a President and Prime Minister, 12 Cabinet Ministers of working bureaucracies, as well as Governors of the territory’s seven states. President Benny Wenda told media at the 2021 UN Climate Summit in Glasgow “We have a constitution, government, cabinet, and a Green State policy framework to restore balance between the human and non-humans in our homeland”.
West Papua now has the support of the Pacific Islands Forum (18 UN member-states, including Australia and New Zealand); the African Caribbean Pacific Group (79 UN states); the European Union, and the Parliaments of the UK, Poland, the Netherlands and Spain. Vanuatu is the state’s legal sponsor to the United Nations. All of this support may mean that Indonesia has squandered its opportunities to negotiate directly with the Papuans and will now have to suffer exposure of its brutal occupation during international mediation of the long-standing conflict.