Since 1975, the Australian capital Canberra has been represented by two senators in the federal parliament. For 47 years, the two available seats have always been divided between Labor and Liberals, the two main parties in the country. This dualism was first interrupted a few days ago by a former Australian national rugby player, David Pocock, who was elected as an independent with over 100,000 preferences. He thus removed the place of an experienced liberal candidate, Zed Seselja, who has been in office for nine years.
During his career, reaching the highest levels of professional rugby, Pocock had not been an athlete like any other. From an early age he had combined sporting commitments with an uncommon interest in social and environmental issues.
At eighteen he spent $ 1,000 received as a match prize to buy sleeping bags which he distributed to the homeless in Perth. In 2014, while playing for the Brumbies of Canberra, he was arrested for chaining himself to work machinery as a protest against the opening of a new coal mine in the state of New South Wales. When he got married, he did not register his marriage. until same-sex marriages were introduced. In the last few years of his career he had instead joined a fund that offset the emissions of travel incurred for sporting commitments by investing in solar parks in the state of Queensland.
The environmental commitment depends on its origins, as he has often said. In fact, Pocock moved to Australia at the age of fourteen, after growing up among the citrus plantations in Zimbabwe on the border with South Africa, where he was born. He had to leave the country with the rest of his family in the early 2000s, when Robert Mugabe, the former president and dictator of Zimbabwe, began land reform that led to the expropriation of the agricultural holdings of white citizens. The same thing, however, also happened in those years to the Italian rugby player Sebastian Negri, born in Zimbabwe and then took refuge in South Africa.
Pocock obtained a visa from the Australian authorities and in 2002 moved with his family to Brisbane on the east coast. He had already started playing rugby in Zimbabwe and moved on to Australia, soon becoming one of the most interesting players on the national scene. He made his debut at eighteen in Super Rugby – the championship of the southern hemisphere – with the Western Force of Perth and at twenty-three he was made captain of Australia, with whom he played three World Cups, the last three years ago in Japan.
Aided by a great physicality and characterized by a style of play defined as “brutal” for the propensity for confrontation and sacrifice, he is remembered as one of the greatest players in his role: third line winger with a rather defensive inclination. The same style of play, however, was also the cause of the numerous injuries suffered in his career that especially in recent years, after two surgically reconstructed knees, pushed him to retire at the end of an experience in the Japanese championship.
As a former player he had continued to deal with social issues – also returning to Africa – and his charity, Eighty Twenty Vision. Finally, between 2021 and 2022 he announced his candidacy in parliament with the “From the fray to the senate” campaign focused on the defense of the territory and the abatement of emissions according to pre-established limits by 2030, on policies in favor of more accessible housing solutions and a lower cost of living, on women’s rights and in favor of better national representation of Australian Aborigines.
Out of more than twenty-three candidates for the seats for the so-called Australian Capital Territory (ACT), he was the only one to exceed one hundred thousand preferences. “For the first time, we have an independent voice representing our community in the federal parliament. I will strive to be available and responsible for all the citizens of the area in which I was elected, “he said after validating the results.
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