21 June 2022

Power-broker Pocock to press case for shared stadium and convention centre

| Ian Bushnell
Join the conversation
David Pocock

Senator David Pocock is in the box seat to be the deciding vote on government legislation. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

The prospect of new ACT Senator David Pocock being able to twist the government’s arm to achieve better outcomes for Canberra, including infrastructure projects such as a stadium and convention centre, has increased dramatically with the settling of Senate results from the May election.

The Albanese Government will need to negotiate with the 18-strong crossbench, including 12 Greens Senators, to get its legislation passed after holding steady at 26 and the Coalition falling back to 32.

The other six on the crossbench include Senator Pocock, two from the Jacqui Lambie Network, two from One Nation and one from the United Australia Party.

If Labor secures the backing of the Greens, it will still need one more vote; more likely than not, that will be Senator Pocock.

“It’s a great result for me and the ACT,” Senator Pocock said.

“It’s a great result in ensuring policy that comes through the Senate will be in the best interests of Australians and the kind of future that we want.”

READ MORE It’s official: Pocock takes Zed’s Senate seat

Apart from big picture issues such as climate change, it means the odds have shortened on the ACT securing Commonwealth funding for large infrastructure projects such as the combined city stadium and convention centre Senator Pocock championed during the campaign.

The winter has again brought the stadium issue into focus with Raiders coach Ricky Stuart calling for a new enclosed stadium so fans do not stay at home or have to brave freezing conditions at Bruce to watch Super Rugby or NRL games.

Senator Pocock argued during the campaign for a new shared Stadium and Convention Centre Precinct on the site of the old Civic pool that would provide a world-class sporting and conference experience and revitalise the CBD.

There is also believed to be strong private sector interest in building such a shared facility if the land could be made available or the Commonwealth contributed to the cost.

READ ALSO Swimmers brave icy waters for cheeky charity dip

Senator Pocock told Region that the Convention Centre was clearly not up to scratch.

“We’re missing out on a lot of business; we’ve got the ANU taking conferences to Sydney,” he said.

“As the nation’s capital, it makes no sense to me that we can’t host major conferences. There’s clearly a need for a secure meeting place and conferencing venue for Defence, cybersecurity – conferences that the government can hold and bigger meetings.

“We’re certainly looking at a way to further those plans and have the right conversations. I’ve already met with Minister [for Regional Development, Territories and Local Government Kristy] McBain and raised it as an issue.”

Senator Pocock is also looking at the more grassroots, community sport level where “there is clearly a lot of need”.

“The ACT has some of the highest participation rates in the country,” he said. “They’re not able to access regional grants and almost every sport raises concerns about their ability to keep up with demand.

“Coming out of COVID, we need to be focusing on health and wellbeing, and allowing people to get out and be active but also for the community and mental health.”

READ ALSO ATO building could fetch record price for Canberra offices

The other big ACT issue that won’t cost the Federal Government anything is Territory rights and repealing the Andrews Bill forbidding the ACT moving on voluntary assisted dying.

“I’d love to see it prioritised to actually fix what has been longstanding inequality in the Territories of not actually having the ability to debate and legislate on something that every state has now legislated on,” he said.

Senator Pocock said more ambitious action on climate change was the clear take-out from the election, and he would pursue his idea of Suburb Zero pilots to demonstrate how to unlock energy savings for households through technologies such as batteries, heat pumps and electric vehicles.

“We’re currently importing oil, paying export prices for gas – the result is that everyday Australians cop the consequences of that,” he said.

READ ALSO ATO building could fetch record price for Canberra offices

Senator Pocock said he was disappointed at the small number of sitting days left in the year for the Parliament, given the Morrison Government was criticised for not sitting enough.

Parliament resumes on 26 July, and Senator Pocock is giving thought to what he will say in his maiden speech.

He said holding the potential balance of power was a huge honour and privilege, and a massive opportunity.

He has had conversations with all sides but nothing beyond introductions.

“My commitment to the people in the ACT doesn’t change,” Senator Pocock said. “I’ll be looking at every piece of legislation on its merits as it affects people in the ACT and use any power that I do have to get good outcomes.”

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments
HiddenDragon6:24 pm 25 Jun 22

The sheer awesomeness of the cross-bench obviously has Albo shaking in his boots – might be time to bring back the Feel The Power number-plates (but only for EVs, of course) and just wait for the truckloads of federal infrastructure funding to start rolling into the ACT……. –


When you are short a vote its about the balance of power, when you have the majority its sports rorts.

The 40-50 million for the Athllon drive duplication is now gone.
Now we are full labor what reason is there for any injection of cash?
Labor doesn’t need Pocock as they have 12 greens,
The greens hold the balance of power, anything else is fantasy.

Ummm check your figures, gooterz. There are 76 Senate seats and Labor/Greens hold 38, which does not give them a majority. They need one additional vote to pass legislation – a tie (38-all) means the vote is defeated. So while the cross benches are only relevant if Labor has the support of the Greens, a single vote can count.

Capital Retro12:20 pm 23 Jun 22

Sadly, you are correct JS.

ACT Labor has already committed to Athlonn Dr duplication (according to their previous election promises, press releases and fading sign “we are duplication this road”).

Zed’s promise (as far as I understood it) was just that the Feds would fast track funding to the ACT government’s existing commitment to Athlonn.

I note ACT Government would never ever promise infrastructure for Tuggeranong before a local election and then fail to deliver on their promise (excluding the new Ice Rink, indoor sports arena, Calwell netball centre, Sulwood Dr duplication, Lake cleanup, police station, Kambah Village upgrade, replacement of removed basketball and netball courts, replacing playgrounds, etc, etc) but other than all those previous unrealised promises why would ACT government NOT duplicate Athlonn Drive.

LOL. I drove past those signs the other day.

It’s good to see the funding has gone where it’s needed over many years and election cycles. That is, pre-election advertising of things they might do when they get around to it.

It’s the good thing about promising funding to meet the needs of “Tomorrow”.

Of course, tomorrow never comes.

Vinson1Bernie4:34 pm 22 Jun 22

So I assume Pocock will be asking the rugby codes with multi-million $$ TV contracts to contribute to a stadium that will be used max 20 times a year with no guarantee the Brumbies will be around for the long term. And the visiting rugby codes teams fans dont travel to away games because of distance/demographics so the winter tourist boost is illusory. Maybe the ANU holds conferences in Sydney so as to attract more starters. Basing your strategy on third hand anecdotes is not analysis and can’t wait for 3 more years of this dribble analysis.

Capital Retro9:40 pm 22 Jun 22

Even overseas backpackers give Canberra a miss.

Tom Worthington4:02 pm 22 Jun 22

I suggest the conference center could be designed to host educational institutions. They could use the meeting rooms for teaching, when not neded for conferences. https://blog.tomw.net.au/2022/04/canberra-world-center.html

Capital Retro9:36 pm 21 Jun 22

I suggest that Senator Pocock starts a “go fund me” page to finance his fantasies.

Maybe he could do a basic business principles course at CIT next because there is no case for a taxpayer funded new stadium or new conference centre in Canberra.

Albo has repeatedly said that he won’t be getting in bed with the Greens, so without the Greens leverage, Mr Pocock doesn’t have a lot of sway.
Most legislation is passed with support of the Opposition of the day. It’ll be interesting to see whether Albo keeps his word or hops under the doona.

I think you’ll find Albo was referring to forming a coalition with the Greens in the event of a minority (in the Reps) government, kenbehrens. Given that no government has had a majority in the Senate since the Howard days (2005-2007), it’s impossible to pass legislation without the support of some non-government Senators. As you say most legislation is passed with bi-partisan support, but he will need Greens plus another vote to get anything through that the Coalition doesn’t like.

HiddenDragon7:23 pm 21 Jun 22

“The prospect of new ACT Senator David Pocock being able to twist the government’s arm to achieve better outcomes for Canberra, including infrastructure projects such as a stadium and convention centre, has increased dramatically……”

Surely the squeaky clean standards of administration we’ve been promised by the Albanese government mean that the stadium, convention centre and other wish-list items for the ACT will only get federal funding support if Infrastructure Australia and the promised Evaluator General –


support those projects as worthy priorities in what was today described by our shiny new Treasurer as a weak, debt-ridden federal budget.

Federal funding of such projects without those seals of approval would also surely be a matter for close investigation by the fearsome anti-corruption commission that’s been promised…..?

This article is just full of gold.

“If Labor secures the backing of the Greens, it will still need one more vote; more likely than not, that will be Senator Pocock.”

This makes absolutely no sense. With the 5 other crossbench Senators as well as all of the Liberal senators, what makes Pocock’s vote “more likely”?

Surely it would be completely dependent on the legislation being put forward?

If it’s progressive legislation in line with Pocock’s beliefs, wouldn’t he support it anyway?

If he doesn’t naturally support it, why is he the most likely to do a deal?

Then this:

“It’s a great result in ensuring policy that comes through the Senate will be in the best interests of Australians and the kind of future that we want.”

“it means the odds have shortened on the ACT securing Commonwealth funding for large infrastructure projects such as the combined city stadium and convention centre Senator Pocock championed during the campaign.”

LOL, I never knew that local pork barrelling was in the best interests of All Australians.

Wouldn’t robust business cases and standard assessment methodologies be necessary for such a thing?

And finally:

“There is also believed to be strong private sector interest in building such a shared facility if the land could be made available or the Commonwealth contributed to the cost.”

So rentseekers are interested if someone gives them free land and the government pays for it.

I’m truly shocked.

Chewy14, Pocock has the advantage of being one of the two cross bench Senators, out of the total of 6 not 5, who are not aligned. The other 4 are 2 x One Nation and 2 x Jacqui Lambie Network. Given the other non-aligned Senator is from Clive Palmer’s UAP, and it’s highly unlikely the government will negotiate with him, Pocock has the advantage of being a left-minded single entity – much easier to deal with. So it is likely that the government may actually court his vote more than you think.

Just Saying,
I said 5 “other” cross bench Senators. Plus Pocock is 6.

And the claims about being a left wing single entity don’t wash.

There are two Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party senators, one being Pauline herself.

Two Jacquie Lambie Network senators from Tasmania, one being Jaquie Lambie herself.

Both of these parties and their senators have shown fractured loyalties over time and a propensity to do deals when it suits them. Both of them are led by the founder of their parties.

The UAP senator is likely to be extremely unpredictable also.

Pocock stood on a platform of government integrity and claims he only wants to see legislation enacted that’s in the best interests of Australia.

So as I said, if the legislation is progressive in nature, why would they need to “court” Pocock? From his own statements, he would support such legislation anyway.

And if it relates to other legislation not within Pocock’s normal ideological standpoint, what makes him more likely to do deals than the others? From history and their words and actions, the others seemingly are far more ready to cut deals.

The Government may more readily “rely” on Pocock’s vote but that’s only because a lot of their likely lilegislation will fit his and the Greens world-view anyway.

Chewy14, thank you for your opinion. I’ve expressed mine.

Chewy, you say yourself that the government will seek the votes where it can. From their point of view, why would Pocock not be a vote of interest, especially if his desires in negotiation might be less loony than some others may devise? There is a swathe of legislation which is not at the beating heart of Green/Left (capitalisation deliberate) politics but on which there are considerations where a cross-bench member might attempt a rational view, and the government attempt to engage it. Pocock is left of centre. I expect that his record will ultimately be one more in tune with that of the government, but for many cases there is no reason to predict his will be auto-pilot vote.
Perhaps not “more likely to do deals” but “less likely to make absurd demands in a deal” so a better option for discussions.

I very much think that Pocock will be a vote of interest. Obviously with his support they can more easily get legislation passed and the agenda is broad.

But I dont think that means he’s “more than likely” going to be the other vote.

Particularly due to his stated stance on government integrity and claims around only enacting legislation that benefits All Australians. A stance which would seemingly mean he’s actually less likely to compromise than others who have willingly shown their vote is up for purchase.

Unless of course those statements were just a part of the theatre of an election campaign and reality will be different.

I also don’t know if calls for stadiums and convention centres are less or more absurd than the other senators.

Jacquie Lambie got hospital funding and forgiven housing debt for example. Selfishly as an ACT resident, hopefully Pocock’s “integrity” doesn’t stand in the way of him doing the same.

Chewy, it seems we agree he is a likely other vote with difference around how likely he will be to be approached on otherwise neutral issues (not in his web page list).
For the rest, what he might properly do in case of such approach, please read my reply to Guy Be today, way above. Some definition is needed, unhindered by prior political position.


On Pocock’s website, he clearly states he is against pork barrelling and the way that both sides of politics have misued funds, with projects not delivered on a “needs” basis.

Infrastructure funding has specific guidelines and assessment methodologies. There are both federal and local departments set up to manage the process. And whilst there is some wiggle room around the metrics used and how benefits can be assessed, it is a fairly standardised process.

So to your specific definition points:

Advocacy: I see this as a key role of a politician and Pocock should be very vocal in this space.

But for the types of projects mentioned, this is simply to highlight a need that could be met, to get a project “in the front door” for rigprous assessment. It’s not to promise outcomes or bypass that assessment.

Negotiation: Once again, a key role for a politician But only in regards to balancing competing needs and trading off/prioritising what is most important for constituents within a set quantum of funding. It’s not for changing the fundamentals of the assessments themselves, which would begin to fall into your areas of coercion or extortion.

So I’m fine for Pocock to advocate and negotiate within reason but his statements clearly identify that he thinks his priority projects should hold value outside of the standardised process, that somehow the ACT has not been receiving our “fair share” despite the metrics he uses being easily proven to hold no value in the argument.

Which is fundamentally identical to what the previous government did, to which Pocock has stated his opposition to.

So at best you could say he’s guilty of over egging the pudding in his election promises and policy position.

Chewy, a couple of things. You are flailing at things I neither said nor supported. Please re-read my reply to Guy Be where I was quite explicit about actions within guidelines. That, however, is less limiting than you seem to imagine. I noted (and you make no reference to) the fact that independent evaluation of, for example, infrastructure projects does not entitle all or any of them to funding. That remains a politico/economic evaluation and one which remains legitimately negotiable (within the approvable set, as I said). I said nothing about changing assessments (are you imagining ranking within the set, if done, is absolute?), nor most of the rest of your straw-strewn path to an apparently personal political conclusion.
If his priorities do not meet your desires, vote against him (again?). I did that against Seselja. It finally worked, thanks to many other people.
Politicians over-egging promises? Mercy!


You are mistaking my comments. This has zero to do with my political position or voting. Well unless you call having a significant dislike of hypocrisy a political position. I also don’t like when people try to claim certain politicians behaviour is more noble or principled that others when their behaviour is similar (not saying that you are doing this).

Pocock was also preferenced above Seselja in my senate vote if it means anything.

Now to the points you’ve raised.

“That, however, is less limiting than you seem to imagine.”

I disagree, it’s actually very limiting when applied correctly within objective assessment frameworks.

But we do need to make decisions on how limiting it should be, where does the line between political freedom meet corruption?

For example, certain politicians have convinced the electorate over time that their subjective opinion of what the community needs and values should be able to alter the assessments to implement their own preferred direction. That the very notion of being elected means they have that freedom.

In fact the previous deputy PM wrote an article outlining just that recently around how an integrity commission would stifle “political vision”.


“I noted (and you make no reference to) the fact that independent evaluation of, for example, infrastructure projects does not entitle all or any of them to funding.”

Of course it does not guarantee anything but when money is allocated, it should be based on the independent assessments and rankings, otherwise it is an admission that the system does allow politicians and political factors to add a level of subjectivity to the assessments. Which is actually fine as long as we acknowledge and accept that fact, rather than trying to spin it depending our own ideological bent.

So when Pocock claims that he is against pork barrelling and supportive of needs based funding for example, that rings extremely hollow when he then promotes stadiums and convention centres as priority infrastructure despite either negative or non existent evaluations. How is that fundamentally different from the behaviour of the previous government with regards to sports grants or carparks?

I expect him to advocate for his constituents but I dont like it when certain people base their opinion of what exactly pork barrelling or corruption is depending on whether they support the politician or the specific spending (once again not saying this is you).

For example, I’d personally love a new stadium but I recognise that it currently doesn’t remotely stack up.

Chewy, I am generally fine with that with a couple differences and one note. Taking your latter few paragraphs, I supported Pocock’s right to advocate for anything he said he would or anything novel he chooses. I specifically denied his right to turn that into a project not approvable, for which there is no adequate business case, so your third- and second-last paragraphs must be talking to someone else.
Not all projects are assessed in a class nor necessarily ranked beyond approvable or not. Outcomes may depend on where you want to go strategically, beyond internal (class) comparisons. That comment covers most of your earlier paragraphs. The point of the integrity push is to advance change for total socio-economic benefit ( which will inevitably have local effects), not for personal, political or sectoral benefit. Those are the guides within which politicians (should) act. Negotiating novel outcomes is not inherently wrong.
Sorry for mistaking your motivation as political.

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.