The Federal Parliamentary Press Gallery Midwinter Ball is a major annual parliamentary fundraising event.
Since its inception in 2000, the ball has raised over $4.4 million, supporting a wide range of organisations, including many locally in the ACT such as Pegasus Riding for the Disabled, Karinya House, Companion House, Givit and Marymead to name a few.
Independent Senator for the ACT, Senator David Pocock, and his wife Emma Pocock, were approached in 2022 to support the ball’s charity fundraising activities by donating an item for the auction which they were happy to do.
David and Emma have also been invited to attend the ball. They share concerns raised by the community regarding some of the Midwinter Ball’s corporate sponsors.
Senator Pocock has spoken with the ball’s organisers and formally written to the organising committee asking that they review sponsorship criteria for future events and apply an ESG lens, in particular reconsidering the acceptance of sponsorship from fossil fuel companies.
“I am aware of calls for parliamentarians to boycott the Midwinter Ball due to concerns over fossil fuel sponsorship of the event,” Senator Pocock said.
“I share the concerns about fossil fuel sponsorship. We’re seeing increased sponsorship in communities and sport from these companies at a time when fossil fuel companies’ social license is rightly being questioned. Given the nature of this event, I think the ball offers a unique opportunity to reinforce good corporate governance practice by putting some strong guidelines around sponsorships.
“These kinds of sponsorship are symptomatic of the social license fossil fuel companies are seeking at all levels - in government, in communities, through our cultural institutions. For me, the answer is about moving away from this entanglement. We want the workforce in this industry to be able to transition, and that’s also what we want for cultural and political institutions who’ve had long relationships with the industry.
“I have raised this with the organising committee and they have indicated they will be consulting further on this issue ahead of future events.
“This is an opportunity to continue an important conversation about whether we grant social license to companies who are continuing practices that are inconsistent with a safe future, well below two degrees. My hope is that it will raise awareness and improve practices going forward. Emma and I will continue with our support of the ball’s charity fundraising activities this year.”