Newly elected Australian senator and former Wallaby great David Pocock’s stand on the Pacific and climate issues may help the Labor government put through their legislations.
The new Australian government has been quick to woo the Pacific but many of their promises hinge on making legislative changes.
To make these changes, the Labor government needs the support of the 12 Greens plus one.
Mr Pocock has lived the Pacific family life. Unlike politicians who speak of the Pacific being a family, his former teammates were of Pacific origin.
These were people he called brothers, and he hopes that the term Pacific family is not being used just as lip service to gain back favour, especially with the geopolitical tensions arising from China’s interest in the region.
“It is certainly challenging. I have seen over the years the way China has exerted its influence in Zimbabwe. In many ways Australia has dropped the ball in the Pacific,” Mr Pocock told the Pacific Advocate.
“We have politicians talk about a Pacific family, but if you have been in a rugby team with a few Fijians, Tongans and a few Samoans, then you really understand what family means.
“It means really looking after each other and caring for each other and when it comes to an issue like climate change we have not been listening enough.
“And as a wealthy nation in this region we have a responsibility to listen and to be working and advocating on behalf of Pacific nations. This is an existential threat for many of our nations.”’
Mr Pocock is someone who believes in fighting for the environment. Even when he was playing for the Wallabies, he protested against coal mining by locking himself to an excavator. He was arrested for that but never charged.
After retiring from rugby in 2020, Mr Pocock went back to Zimbabwe to do conservation work in the country he grew up in before moving to Australia.
His move into politics may have needed convincing, but he was already highlighting issues he stood for.
“I guess growing up in Zimbabwe politics was important and it affected everyone’s lives. I have always been interested and even when I was playing rugby, there were issues, and I have always highlighted those issue with whatever platform I could,” Mr Pocock said.
He has also called for legislative changes to ensure exploitation of Pacific workers coming to Australia under the Seasonal Worker Program.
During his rugby playing days, Mr Pocock was known as the king of breakdowns. He would most of the time be able to convert possession in the rucks and mauls.
He feels politics is similar to breakdowns. He said he would love to visit Pacific nations but as an independent, that will only happen when he is on vacation.
For the Pacific, the senator was once someone they loved to watch on the rugby paddocks. Now he is someone who is most definitely fighting for the climate cause.
Mr Pocock hopes positive steps will be taken to end climate wars, and not just lip service by setting high targets which cannot be reached.