Newly-elected senator David Pocock has already made history by becoming the first independent to hold a senate seat for the ACT.
On the progressive side of politics, Pocock is in a potentially powerful position, with the government needing the support of the Greens and just one crossbencher to pass legislation that is opposed by the Coalition.
The issues that matter most to Pocock include “climate and integrity - people want Australia to move forward” – but also housing affordability and the rising cost of living.
“Cost of living is a crisis level across Australia and here in the ACT we’re at the forefront of that. [We’re the] most expensive place to rent, second most expensive to buy. People want genuine engagement from politicians and genuine solutions. And it’s a big task.”
The other issue for him, which he says “is really urgent”, is “territory rights - correcting a long-standing injustice where the territories can’t debate and legislate on voluntary assisted dying, which all the states have now legislated on”.
On whether he has been consulting with the other members of the crossbench Pocock says, “I’ve been talking to everyone on the crossbench. I think the benefit of being an independent is you can speak to people and ultimately I’m in here to get good outcomes for the people of the ACT. And that takes actually consulting, listening, being open to backing good ideas, good solutions, regardless of where they come from.”
Pocock is a former captain of the Wallabies. Asked about the row over the Manley Sea Eagles’ decision to include the rainbow flag on their jersey – which has prompted a revolt by seven players – he says: “Sport is at its best when it’s challenging society to be more inclusive […] we can actually create a space that is more inclusive, that people can come and be who they are regardless of the colour of their skin or their sexuality.
"This is […] really disappointing and it’s going to be devastating for a number of probably mostly young people and older people who are gay, and love their rugby league, to see players take this sort of stand. We’re dealing with real people here.
"We are seeing progress. We’ve still got a long way to go.”