17 May 2022

'Division, denial and delay'; former rugby star slams Australia's climate stance

12:15 pm on 17 May 2022

Former Australian rugby superstar and captain, David Pocock, says Pacific Island nations are "canaries in the coalmine" for Australia's inaction against climate change.

Coastal homes in Tuvalu, Funafuti pictured on November 28, 2019. The low-lying South Pacific island nation of about 11,000 people has been classified as "extremely vulnerable" to climate change by the United Nations Development Programme due to rising sea levels.

Coastal homes in Tuvalu, Funafuti pictured on November 28, 2019. The low-lying South Pacific island nation of about 11,000 people has been classified as "extremely vulnerable" to climate change by the United Nations Development Programme due to rising sea levels. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Pocock, who is contesting the federal elections as an ACT Independent Senate candidate, told the emergency Pacific Climate Security Summit in Canberra on Monday, the Pacific community is "crying out for action".

He said the countries had looked to Australia for leadership as it is a close neighbour and a major per capita emissions emitter.

But all they had seen was "division, denial, and now delay", Pocock said.

"They have seen climate action politicised and stalled for over a decade. They have seen prime ministers rise and fall over clean energy policies and they've seen a senior minister joke about rising sea levels in the Pacific."

Pocock said there was little doubt this hostile stance on climate action and the threat to Pacific communities has had a significant impact on relations.

It was emblematic of the lack of care, attention, and respect the Australian Government offers its island neighbours, he said.