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Pocock pledges greater equity for Canberra

David Pocock wants Canberra to be known for more than the city’s roundabouts and politicians.

The former Wallabies player, who is now the ACT’s first independent senator, is on a mission to deliver a more inclusive society.

He highlighted his quest by having Auslan translator Amanda Dolejsi sign his first speech to the Senate on Tuesday.

Senator Pocock originally pushed to have an Auslan translator next to him in the chamber, but the government only allowed Ms Dolejsi to translate from the Parliament House broadcast studio and appear on large screens in the chamber and on-screen in the live broadcast.

“We are making progress as a country, but it’s in all our interest to continue doing the work to build a more inclusive society that celebrates difference and diversity,” he said.

“I understand the difference between Mandy being there in the broadcasting studio and here on the floor of the chamber, is the difference between accessibility and inclusion.

“Today we have achieved the former but not the latter. In future, I hope we can achieve both.”

But while you can take a senator out of the Wallabies, it seems you can’t take the rugby out of a senator, with the independent starting the day on the footy field for a parliamentary ‘State of Origin’ match.

Lining up alongside Barnaby Joyce and Anika Wells, Senator Pocock held lead his team to defeat at the hands of the NSW Blues, with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese lifting the coveted trophy.

The senator also used his first speech to call for greater parliamentary representation for the ACT, which maintains two Senate positions despite a population nearly on par with Tasmania.

“We also need more equitable representation – that’s an argument I look forward to prosecuting over this term,” he said.

“Yes, we are a city of roundabouts and politicians. But we’re also much more than that.

“We’re the nation’s capital. I want this to once again be a source of great pride. No longer are we a safe seat.”

He also welcomed the introduction of a bill to repeal a moratorium on the ACT and Northern Territory on legislating on voluntary assisted dying.

The Zimbabwe-born senator also hailed Australia’s multiculturalism and natural environment.

“Like many Australians, I came here from distant shores. My own family’s story has been told many times. This is not a story of my family alone but of so many families who now call themselves Australian,” he said.

“I’m obviously white – ‘moon tan white’ as my former teammates liked to tell me over the years – and I don’t want to conflate my experiences of migration with the many migrants whose experience is shaped by the colour of their skin.

“We’re the nation’s capital. I want this to once again be a source of great pride. No longer are we a safe seat.”

NSW Greens senator David Shoebridge also warned the major parties against taking seats for granted.

“I enter the Senate as a Green, one of a record 16 elected Greens in this parliament. I’m also part of a growing global greens movement,” he told the chamber in his first speech.

“This is a movement of solidarity, that sees our challenges collectively and realises that we all share this one planet.”

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