Zimbabwe-born former Australia rugby team captain David Pocock has long campaigned on the fringes of politics as a climate warrior, his activist credentials cemented in 2014 when he was arrested for chaining himself to a tractor in protest against a new coal mine in New South Wales.
But standing on the sidelines of the United Nations climate talks in Glasgow this year, he says, hammered home the importance of being inside the political tent. Pocock on Friday will formally announce his foray into politics as an independent Senate candidate for the ACT (Australian Capital Territory).
“I’ve always thought that I could potentially have more impact outside the political system,” Pocock says in a Zoom interview from Zimbabwe where he has spent much of the past year working on a community conservation project he co-founded with brother Steve.
“Seeing the way Australia was represented at COP26 was really frustrating and, frankly, pretty hard to stomach. That really reaffirmed and highlighted the need for better political leadership.”
The 33-year-old rugby union great, who played 83 tests for the Wallabies and captained the side in 2012, hung up his professional boots last year, resolving to dedicate his time to fighting for more ambitious action on climate change.
He says Australians are being “failed on climate”, and sees independents as key to the solution.
“We’ve got all the technology we need. We just need the political will,” he says, “But we can change that and we can change it really quickly if we have more independents in there who are actually pushing for a better future.”
Climate action and environmental conservation have long been causes dear to Pocock’s heart, and feature prominently in his progressive political agenda.
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Growing up on his family’s farm outside of Gweru in Zimbabwe before relocating to Australia in 2001, he’s had a longstanding connection to nature, land, and the environment.
He has co-founded several charitable organisations, working in regenerative agriculture, conservation, climate advocacy, and food and water security in rural Zimbabwe.
He has also studied extensively in the field, completing a Masters of Sustainable Agriculture.
Pocock moved to Canberra in 2012 to begin what turned into a seven-year stint with the Brumbies.
Nearly a decade later, he proudly calls the capital home.
“I love the place and how accessible nature is, our nature reserves, and I guess just how diverse Canberra is, in many ways,” he said. “Canberrans are really proud about living in the ACT, and I think we can continue to improve things and actually contribute more to shaping wider Australians’ political debate and our future.” — Canberra Times/Sports Reporter