Injured wallaby chained to digger cautioned by union

Tuesday, 2 December, 2014

Rugby fans might have noticed that Australia’s 26-17 loss to England at Twickenham last week took place in the absence of injured Wallaby player and sometime captain David Pocock. 

Rather than undergoing intensive hydrotherapy, massage and gym work, Mr Pocock was instead - according to the UK Guardian and other news sources - being arrested this week, after chaining himself to mining equipment. 

He did this as part of a protest against a new coal mine at Maules Creek in New South Wales, which has already seen the arrest and cautioning of his wife Emma.

Mrs Pocock (“civil disobedience is a tool used the world over: civil rights, women's rights, gay rights, human rights have all been won through the use of civil disobedience”) tweeted a link to a site documenting the rationale behind the protest, which states that the mine " ticks nearly every box for an irresponsible mining project." The summary can be read here:

The mine, currently the largest coal mine under construction in Australia, is a project of Whitehaven Coal. David Pocock had this to say in a recent interview:

“It’s incredibly important that we have conversations about this. In 2014, to put a coal mine in the middle of a state forest just doesn’t seem to make any sense.

“The local people are not only concerned about the effects of this mine on the climate in the future but also how it affects the water table.

“When you’re living around the mine, that’s stuff you have to think about.”

In an admirable display of shortsightedness the Australian Rugby Union have cautioned him for his actions, no doubt doing little for their already quite battered public image (warning: links to Daily Mail). They released the following quite wonderful statement:

The Australian Rugby Union has issued a formal written warning to David Pocock following his arrest yesterday.

While we appreciate David has personal views on a range of matters, we’ve made it clear that we expect his priority to be ensuring he can fulfil his role as a high-performance athlete.
The matter is now subject to legal proceedings and we will now let the legal process take its course. 

So he’s not allowed to say anything anymore (!), but instead provided a statement on his blog here:

- which concludes with the following notable passage:

My parents were always clear with my brothers and I when we were growing up that you have to have the courage of your convictions and that when you commit to something you must fully commit. That’s why, this weekend I travelled to the Leard Blockade to meet with farmers, activists and fellow Canberrans who are deeply concerned about the expansion of the Maules Creek Mine in the Leard State Forest. A group of us decided to take part in an action that would disable a super digger while we occupied it and raise awareness about the plight of the Maules Creek community, the Leard State Forest, the local Gamilaroi whose country and sacred sites are being destroyed, and all of us who are beginning to suffer the impacts of climate change.

After a very long day, after being arrested and processed, the constable looked at me sternly and said, “You don’t want to continue down this road. The ramifications are simply not worth it.”

I understood his warning but couldn’t help but think that his words were a perfect summary of the situation we collectively find ourselves in; scientists the world over are urging us to act on climate change – to leave coal in the ground and focus on renewables. Farmers like Rick Laird are fighting for the future of their farmlands. If I ask myself the question – what would I want people to do to help me if I was in Rick Laird’s position? Then I know I made the right decision.While people may not agree with me being arrested, I hope they will see this as an opportunity to further the conversation about climate change and engage more people in helping to shape what is all of our futures.

We all have a role to play.

The Guardian article can be read here