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Greens pick prominent academic to contest Adelaide

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The Greens have selected prominent employment academic Barbara Pocock to contest the seat of Adelaide at the upcoming federal election.

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The Greens confirmed Pocock’s pre-selection for the seat of Adelaide – held by outgoing Labor MP Kate Ellis since 2004 – over the weekend.

The UniSA emeritus professor is the author of several books and journal articles on how work affects people and has been a member of the Economic Development Board of South Australia, The Australia Institute and the Festival of Ideas committee in Adelaide.

She grew up on a farm in Lameroo, about 200km north-east of Adelaide in the Mallee, and was an economist working for the Reserve Bank before founding the Centre for Work + Life at the University of South Australia in 2006, working as its director until 2014.

She was made a member of the Order of Australia in 2010 for services to industrial relations research, and for her advocacy of social justice.

Pocock told InDaily this morning that the Greens’ “innovative” workplace policies – which prioritise social and ecological objectives over profitability and efficiency, and which emphasise work-life balance – were key to her decision to seek the party’s pre-selection.

She said parliament needed to pass new regulation to ensure a living wage for all workers, flexibility for parents and carers, and better job security for all – especially with the emergence of the “gig economy”.

“Over my lifetime, work has been absolutely transformed,” she said.

“What’s really important about the current transformation is that there’s an enforced minimum expectation … that they [workers] can make a living wage.”

Pocock said she has “real concerns about elements of the gig economy [and] employment that is erratic and unpredictable”.

She said that while Australian workers often find meaning and satisfaction in work, there had been “very stagnant wages in the face of quite significant productivity and profit growth”.

Despite her long history in employment research, Pocock said she was not a “one-trick pony” and was also passionate about taking action on climate change, increasing the transparency of parliament and improving Australia’s education system.

She argued that Australians had become increasingly “disgusted” by politicians and increasingly apathetic to politics over the past several years, and that more transparency in political donations would reduce public cynicism.

“They want to know that the politicians they’re listening to are actually independent … not beholden to donors whose donations aren’t clear,” she said, adding that the Greens do not take corporate donations.

She said “people want to see politicians who are focused on issues that affect ordinary people”, rather than focused on themselves.

The Greens have never won the seat of Adelaide.

The party’s 2016 candidate, social scientist Sophie Guy, attracted 10.44 per cent of the vote.

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