IT IS SO good to be here with you all today on Ngunnawal Country. I’d like to thank Selina for the welcome to country, and would like to add my acknowledgement, and deep gratitude, to elders past and present.
Like you, I love living here and calling Canberra home. We hear a lot about Canberra being a new city, but we live in a place that has been inhabited and looked after for tens of thousands of years. From the Molonglo to the Murrumbidgee Rivers, Namadgi and Tidbinbilla in the south to Mulligans Flat in the north, and many other places we know and love. We live in an incredible part of the world.
Thank you all so much for coming.
Thank you to Alex for taking time out from his campaign to join us.
Thank you to the incredible team who put today together – a huge amount of work.
Thanks to Capital Brewing, a great Canberra business, for having us here.
Em, Clare and the entire ProACT community – not just for what you’ve said here today but for your commitment to this city and ensuring it’s well represented.
Jack River – Holly Rankin – and Lucy Sugerman.
And thanks, most of all, to the volunteers and to all of you who are making this possible, who are pushing for a better way of doing politics here in the ACT.
It is a thrill to see a crowd of people like this. And being here is another reminder of the sacrifices Canberrans have made during Covid to protect each other. From months of living under a blanket of smoke during the bushfires, straight into two years of a global pandemic.
It’s clear from the way Canberrans have dealt with both that we care deeply about each other and our city.
And we now find ourselves, again, in a frightening and uncertain time – from the harrowing images and news reports coming out of Ukraine to the awful floods up north.
This is a time where unity, caring for community and supporting each other should be front and centre. And Canberrans have shown they can do this as well as if not better than anyone.
But speaking to hundreds of Canberrans over the last few months, many of us feel a deep frustration and anger with national politics. Our so-called leaders are not serving us, they’re not working for us, they’re not making decisions every day to make our lives better and turn the big challenges we face into opportunities.
I believe that’s what leadership is – driving what’s best for all of our shared future, not for a small minority or for vested interests.
With Ukraine and their President, Volodymyr Zelensky, in the news for the past two weeks, the inspiring defiance of the Ukrainian people in the face of such a challenge has been front of mind for so many of us. A line from Zelensky’s inauguration speech in 2019 has stuck with me in particular. Having grown up in Zimbabwe, a country where every school, business and public building had to have the president’s official photo prominently displayed, President Zelensky’s words resonated deeply with me: To quote him: “I do not want my picture in your offices. The president is not an icon, an idol or a portrait. Hang your kids’ photos instead, and look at them each time you are making a decision.”
That is the attitude our leaders need for these times.
That is what we are missing.
We’re all human and we will make mistakes, but we can be committed to something bigger than ourselves.
Our elected representatives need to be committed to actually serving the people they represent. I don’t think they’re currently doing that.
Changing that for our community here in Canberra is one of the main reasons I am running for the Senate.
To ensure people across the ACT have someone representing them who cares about their future, who isn’t afraid to tackle the issues that matter and who, at the end of the day, is accountable to this community.
I want to make Canberra count.
So I’ve been consulting widely across the community as we go about building a policy platform that reflects what Canberrans want.
That’s why, over the next few weeks as we start to announce them, you’ll see my core policies target big ideas… the things Canberrans want tackled.
…things that have, for too long, been put in the ‘too-hard’ basket
● restoring integrity and rebuilding public trust
○ Hands up if you’re tired of the rorts, fed up with the lies, seen enough corruption?
○ That all needs to stop right now.
○ We need to value the public service and ensure they can offer frank and fearless advice to the government of the day.
● cost of living;
○ Groceries, petrol, utilities: inflation outstripping wages so it feels like we’re constantly going backwards
○ We need some real leadership to turn this around
● housing affordability;
○ Anyone who’s tried to buy or rent recently knows just how big of a crisis this has become
○ I’m done seeing the buck passing and blame shifting on this, we need action
● bold climate action and seizing the multi-billion dollar opportunity of the transition to renewables;
○ ensuring households benefit from lower power prices;
○ ensuring our tradies are supported in helping us transition to a smart energy grid;
● a clear path out of covid for small businesses and ensuring they are supported;
● a First Nations voice to parliament;
● our fair share of funding – whether that’s infrastructure, health, education or other federal expenditure;
○ helping ensure Canberra is the capital city we can continue to be proud of and we’re investing in the world-class facilities that will help us build back stronger with more jobs, more visitors and a more resilient local economy.
For too long politicians have sought to weaponise fear and division as tools of the political trade, nowhere more so than on climate.
The government is beholden more than ever to the vested interests that have kept them in power… lacking the courage to craft policy that delivers what is right for the country – instead making decisions calculated purely on political expediency.
This has led us to the point where we could miss out on the huge economic opportunity climate action and building an economy for the future presents us with.
We want, and need, a clear path out of covid and need to ensure we seize the opportunity that decarbonsing our economy presents all of us.
I’m hearing loud and clear from Canberrans that the time to change the way we’re represented is now.
But it is a huge challenge. It’s never been done before. For good reason.
We’re up against the major party machinery with lots of money.
But the stakes have never been this high, and we’ve never been so taken for granted.
That’s why we’re here today.
We know this, and we know we’re up for the challenge.
We know we can change things for the better.
That’s why we had almost 3000 people sign up to help me get my name above the line on the ballot paper.
Why hundreds of Canberrans have donated to help build this campaign.
Why 900 people in Canberra have now signed up to Team Pocock as volunteers.
Volunteers from every suburb in the ACT.
And we’ll need more. Many more.
Because we can only win this with people.
We can win this by making politics about people again.
We can win by building something bigger than ourselves.
We’re not doing this for a party, we’re doing this for the people we love.
There’s more motivation there than we’ll ever need.
And that’s why we can win. We can be the change we want to see.
So thank you for joining me.
Thank you for being here to kick this off.
Together, we can do this.