1 March 2022

Pocock's run at the Senate: 'I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't think I could win'

| Genevieve Jacobs
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David Pocock

David Pocock is standing as an independent Senate candidate. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Decisions about standing for Parliament are not often made after a stint working on Zimbabwean rangelands.

But David Pocock, who has a Masters in Sustainable Agriculture and has spent significant amounts of time on development work in his African homeland, is not your average political candidate.

The former Wallabies and Brumbies rugby star is renowned for wearing his heart on his sleeve. He’s been arrested for chaining himself to mining equipment to protest a new coal mine in NSW, refused to marry his long-term partner until same-sex marriage was legalised and is now standing as an independent Senate candidate in the next Federal election.

But does that add up to a genuine chance at electoral success when only two upper house seats are in play?

The ACT’s electoral maths are tough: Labor senator and former Chief Minister Katy Gallagher has an unassailably solid margin, and while progressive Canberrans are fond of deriding Zed Seselja, he increased his margin at the last election. Right-wing Liberal voters are a minority in the city but solidly behind him.

The most likely result remains easy re-election for Gallagher on the back of a strong primary vote and independent preferences, while Seselja’s count will take longer before he’s ultimately returned. Independent Kim Rubenstein and the Greens’ Tjanara Goreng Goreng are also competing for the progressive vote.

READ ALSO Kim4CBR sets her sights on toppling Seselja in the Senate

“I’m clearly not running against Katy Gallagher,” Pocock tells Region Media. “I feel like Zed doesn’t actually represent what a lot of Canberrans want. A lot of the issues we’ve run on as a city and a territory, he’s against.

“Marriage equality, Territory rights, his record on climate action is really poor. He’s voting alongside Dutton. I think there’s deep frustration on both sides of politics.

“The message from me is that I’m willing to get in there and represent them on issues that are important to them, and bring a different perspective and different life experience to the majority of politicians, basically lawyers and staffers who have climbed the ranks.”

Pocock says that after attending the COP26 conference in Glasgow last year, a motivating factor was seeing how Australia is perceived on the world stage. He thinks we’re out of step with our major trading partners on climate change and missing an opportunity for economic development in the renewables transition.

READ ALSO Seselja easily wins preselection vote for Senate

He’d been approached by “a number of people” last year to run and went through a process with ProACT, the community organisation behind his candidacy. There’s some seed funding from C200, businessman Simon Holmes à Court’s war chest for independent candidates with climate change platforms.

Beyond that, Pocock is receiving small donations from local supporters he says come from across the political spectrum.

There are volunteers in every suburb and he is focussing on grassroots community events like his regular politics in the park events. He lodged an application to register a new political party in February, enabling his name to appear above the line on the ballot paper.

“The donations from people giving $100, $200 are really exciting. The people who have joined the party are not people who have been interested in the past. They’re frustrated and see this as a way of getting their voice heard”, he says.

“But it’s a huge challenge. You feel like you’re building a car as you’re driving it.”

Community conversations have identified integrity in politics and climate change as key issues. Pocock says the latter also connects closely with the cost of living.

“We’re now at a point where if we had the right leadership on climate, household bills could be coming down with climate action,” he says.

“We need to take the cost of living seriously, but politicians are paying lip service, not actually trying to make it more affordable.

“Integrity in politics comes up in almost every conversation. We want to see politicians held to the same standard we expect in all of our workplaces. They shouldn’t be getting away with the rorts we’re seeing almost weekly.”

Pocock acknowledges this is a David v Goliath battle, in which the former rugby international plays the underdog role.

“I see my role as bringing my values and my track record, but getting out and talking to Canberrans about what’s important to them. Having a voice in the Senate that’s accountable to Canberra will make Canberra count again instead of being taken for granted because all the seats are so safe”, he says.

“I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t think I could win.

“When you talk to people, we have so much more in common than our differences. They want to be listened to, but for politicians to get on with the job of governing, to take opportunities and make our lives better today and into the future”.

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HiddenDragon7:45 pm 02 Mar 22

“Pocock says that after attending the COP26 conference in Glasgow last year, a motivating factor was seeing how Australia is perceived on the world stage. He thinks we’re out of step with our major trading partners on climate change and missing an opportunity for economic development in the renewables transition.”

In the absence of huge technological breakthroughs, those perceptions and perspectives might be in for a big change when Europe and North America come to terms with the realities of doing without, or with somewhat less, Russian oil and gas.

Of course, minor details like that will be lost on the many Canberrans who are comfortably detached from economic reality, so the “real action” slogan will continue to have resonance here.

Never say never!!! Just remember Cathy McGowan, Zali Stegall and Maxine McKew to name a few. Not to mention the recent result in Bega with Labor’s unprecedented win. Kim Rubenstein and David Pocock will represent Canberrans unlike Mr Zed Zero!

Capital Retro1:23 pm 02 Mar 22

A couple of points, Jack D.

The first three successful candidates you mentioned were not all independents and they were all elected to the house of representatives. The Bega result wasn’t an independent candidate either and that was a NSW by-election.

Both Rubenstein and Pocock are seeking election as Senators for the ACT, not just for Canberrans Canberrans.

Jack,
Your political zeal for left wing progressive candidates is admirable but each of your examples are in the HOR.

Of course there is always a chance but the ACT Senate seats are not comparable to HOR seats. Zed only needs 33% and that almost exactly equals the core Liberal rusted on vote that would be extremely difficult to shift.

Stegall took out Abbott who was a former PM and McKew took out a PM. McGowan took out the very high profile Mirabella. In very safe Lib seats and they were all told they couldn’t do it and they did. Bega has never been held by Labor. My point is I think Kim Rubenstein and Pocock have a reasonable chance. I know die hard Lib voters who are extremely unhappy with Zed who are considering changing their votes to an Independent, and not for the other Lib candidate on the ticket either. These people all voted for Zed to replace Gary Humphries in 2013. You just have to look at the numbers at the last ACT election. Labor didn’t lose any votes, the Canb Libs lost 4% and the Greens gained 4%! Hivh profiles Derryn Hinch, Fraser Anni, Brian Burstin and Duncan Spender lost thei Senate seats and Malcolm Robert just scrape in

Just like every election in recent memory we have the Greens and Independent candidates claiming that the second senate seat is in danger. But every election, Zed get’s re-elected.

Why?

Because the candidates put forward are the wrong ones needed to take the seat off the Liberals.

And if anything, the candidates this time around are even more left wing than previous elections. Pocock will get a few votes from name recognition and Rugby fans but mostly he will just be cannibalising votes from the other left wing/progressive candidates.

I think people are underestimating the frustration a lot of us are feeling about the failure of government to genuinely represent us. The party system has failed. David Pocock holds out the promise of someone who is genuinely connected to his community (us) and who will act in our interests – not the party’s. His values and issues that he highlights (arguing for the same rights for the ACT as the rest of Australia, real action on climate change, integrity in government, safety and respect for women and backing the Ulu?u Statement) are important to people in Canberra – that’s why he has my support and my vote.

Capital Retro11:50 am 02 Mar 22

What is “real action on climate change”?

It doesn’t matter what his policies are because he doesn’t have a chance. Nor does any other non Lab/Lib Senate candidate. Since 1975 every ACT Senate election has elected one Labor and one Liberal Senator. At the 2019 election Gallagher got 39%, Seslja 32%, Greens 18% and the rest 11%. The more ‘progressives’ there are taking votes away from each other the less chance any one of them will get anywhere near the quota for the second ACT senate seat and the safer Zed is. Divide and conquer.

Actually he does have a chance. He is the first candidate that actually challenges the duopoly. The Greens can’t take the spot as that would mean convincing people who had previously voted Liberal to vote for them (not going to happen). I was at one of David’s politics in the park events recently and you might be surprised who was there – a real cross-section (including Liberals). The breadth of his appeal is what makes this race exciting to watch – other candidates appeal to a particular niche, but David is clearly drawing people in from across the political spectrum. And across the ACT – anyone else already got volunteers in EVERY suburb?!

Claraa,
I have to say you are dreaming if you think he has a chance.

His policies are simply too far left wing to convert any of the more conservative Liberal voters. Even moderate Liberals would be turned off by a large portion of what he claims to stand for and those voters are the only ones that matter in this race.

Pocock will no doubt cannibalise some of the ALP and Greens vote but that’s irrelevant to who wins the second seat.

Only a centrist or centre right candidate has a chance of toppling Zed.

Capital Retro8:15 pm 01 Mar 22

He flew to the Glasgow climate change gab-fest?

Already he has a big carbon footprint.

Restoring integrity to parliament and climate action are the two most important issues for me. These are both areas where we’ve consistently been let down by the Libs. Zed promised to vote with the majority on marriage equality but when we returned the highest support in the country, he broke his promise and didn’t even bother to vote. He doesn’t support equality, he doesn’t support territory rights, he doesn’t support us and he doesn’t deserve my vote. I have full confidence in David and look forward to being represented by a senator who cares what I think

Capital Retro8:06 am 02 Mar 22

What is “climate action”, annaliese?

I don’t understand all this stuff about him not having policies – he’s clearly articulated the areas that he’s standing on, and has also said that he’s consulting on the detail. There’s even a video on his website that makes that clear. Surely that’s better than just spouting stuff that a focus group said would win votes? A would-be politician who actually listens? Who knew!

“”The former Wallabies and Brumbies rugby star is renowned for wearing his heart on his sleeve. “”

He does indeed.

December 8, 2019 – 12:00AM
The Sunday Telegraph

Rugby great David Pocock and wife Emma have declared they would rather save the planet than have children.
“It is a decision you can’t make lightly, whether or not you want to have kids,” Pocock said.

David, your website contains just 6 policy dot points. It shows no economic policy, no defence policy, no agriculture policy, no infrastructure policy, no foreign policy, no health policy, no industry policy, no immigration policy, no regional policy, no communications policy, no social services policy, etc. What are your policies on these issues?

I don’t understand why he’s running. Although he says he’s running against Zed, I can’t see a climate activist attracting votes that otherwise would go-to Zed.

Politically, I’d place him to the left of Katy Gallagher and label him in as an independent “Green”.

No policies? Sounds like the Liberals, and even when they do actually have a policy they’re abysmal at implementing it.
He can’t be any worse than Zed, in fact I suspect he would be significantly better.

How did I know that it would be “nobody” and “kenbehrens” who would be the first to put their 2-bobs worth into this comment thread. I’ve always suspected you 2 as Liberal Party stooges, undermining anyone who dares to take on the revered Zed. I suspect there will be a few other Liberal stooges and Zed patsies putting their 2-bobs worth in soon too.

Jack D, ha, you are so wrong.

I want t say I just love the Canberra Liberals. They just keep me entertained. Just had to see Elizabeth Lee and her helpers buzzing around the Campbell shops last Saturday morning. Carefully positioning corflutes next to Zeds with his Young Liberals watching on! We all know who runs the show for the Liberals in Canberra!!!! The Liberal’s tent at the Canberra Show was just as entertaining! James Milligan was there being … well … just James Milligan!!! Not to mention Leanne Castley overheard telling a constituent that she is “now on top of Health”. Just love it!!!!…

Hello Jack D.

Why do you think I’m a liberal party stooge? In my original comment, I assessed Mr Pocock as an independent “Green” and unlikely to win conservative votes.

Given his stances on climate and SSM and the absence of any other policies have I assessed Mr Pocock incorrectly?

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