Zimbabwe-born rugby great Pocock seeks political office in Australia

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David Pocock

SYDNEY, Australia – Rugby great David Pocock announced on Friday he is moving into politics, launching a bid to reach the Australian Senate in next year’s general election.

Pocock, 33, said he would stand as an independent in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), which includes Canberra, where he played for seven years with the Brumbies Super Rugby team.

Zimbabwe-born Pocock, who earned 78 caps with the Wallabies before retiring internationally in 2019, said he wanted to make a difference.

 

“Now, more than ever, we need political courage,” he posted on social media.

Already well-known for his activism on social justice and environmental issues, Pocock now dedicates most of his time to conservation.

He holds a bachelor of ecological agricultural systems degree and a master of sustainable agriculture. Currently, he is overseeing a project in Zimbabwe that aims to regenerate degraded rangelands and increase biodiversity.

Pocock was outspoken during his playing career on issues such as LGBTQ rights and climate change, rejecting barbs from critics that athletes should stick to sports.

Instead, Pocock said he wanted to use his platform for positive change, challenging homophobic remarks from fellow player Israel Folau and calling for same-sex marriage equality.

He was arrested in 2014 for chaining himself to a digger in a protest against a coal mine being opened in a forest in New South Wales.

The former flanker said his Senate platform would include action on climate, engaging with indigenous Australians and improving the integrity of the country’s political class.

The ACT has two representatives in the Senate, parliament’s upper house, which reviews legislation put forward by lawmakers in the lower house.

Both ACT senators have always come from the ranks of the two major parties — centre-left Labor and the conservative Liberals — meaning Pocock would need unprecedented support to succeed.

No date has yet been set for Australia’s next election, but it is expected to take place by late May 2022.

Pocock grew up in a farming area just outside of Gweru and began playing rugby as an eight-year-old at Midlands Christian School and later Midlands Christian College.

His family (father, mother, and two younger brothers) moved to Brisbane to start a new life in 2002 after the family farm was ‘acquired’ during Zimbabwe’s chaotic land reform programme.

– AFP

 

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