Former Wallabies captain and political activist David Pocock has thrown his hat into the 2022 ACT Senate ring, declaring he will run as an independent on a platform of climate change action, social justice and integrity in politics.
Zimbabwean-born Mr Pocock, who has been an ACT resident since 2012, has been endorsed by the proACT group, which takes its inspiration from the ‘Voices for’ movement to elect independent candidates to Parliament.
His decision to run stems from disenchantment with the current state of politics and what he says is a lack of progress on key issues.
“I want to represent my community and advocate for change on the issues we care about most,” he says.
That includes a science-based climate and energy policy, protecting the environment and giving First Nations people a voice in Parliament by backing the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
“We need politicians who will turn the challenges we face into opportunities for Australia,” Mr Pocock says. “And now more than ever, we need political courage.”
He says he will also be a strong advocate for the ACT, including backing territory rights to legislate on assisted dying.
Mr Pocock’s candidature adds to a now-crowded field on the left that must leave Liberal Senator Zed Seselja feeling more confident than ever of withstanding any challenge.
There are only two Senate seats up for grabs and they have traditionally been split between the major parties, although the Greens are forever optimistic at dislodging the conservative Senator Seselja.
But with popular Labor Senator Katy Gallagher untouchable in one of the seats, that leaves the Greens’ Tjanara Goreng Goreng, Kim for Canberra’s Kim Rubenstein, a constitutional lawyer, and now Mr Pocock battling it out with Senator Seselja.
Mr Pocock says he wouldn’t run if he didn’t think he could win, but the reality is that the progressive vote will split, and preferences will likely flow to Senator Gallagher who will garner the majority of votes.
It is unlikely that Senator Seselja will suffer any erosion of his solid support base of about the 33.3 per cent quota necessary to be elected. In 2019, his primary vote dipped to 32.4 per cent but there were more than enough preferences to secure the seat.
Mr Pocock has long combined rugby with politics, campaigning for the environment and once getting arrested at a coal protest, and supporting same-sex marriage.
An openside flanker, he played 78 times for Australia and ran out with the ACT Brumbies from 2013 to 2019.
Australia will likely go to the polls next May.