South Australia’s No Pokies MP Nick Xenophon is getting a dream in the
media at the moment and is firming for another eight year term in the upper house after this year’s state election.
In a move which must have angered his political rivals, Xenophon was
allowed to fill in for 5AA’s ethically-challenged but high rating morning host Leon
Byner late last year as The Advertiser reports here.
Even more surprising was a glowing editorial in last week’s Sunday Mail
urging his re-election. It’s not often a dominant Murdoch paper goes
out on a limb for an independent but editor Phil Gardner’s
tome was an extraordinary endorsement and should be read in full:
Nick Xenophon must remain in the SA
Parliament. He is no ordinary MP, especially in that stuffy bastion of political
propriety, the Upper House. He is one of the few performers in a chamber
mostly lacking in talent and passion. And he does it all for grassroots South
Australians, not for the top end of town.
He unashamedly exploits one-liners
and stunts like taking toy cars, bobcats, cash cows and gravy trains to the
steps of Parliament.
Some will argue these sometimes tacky stunts dent his
credibility, but the self-professed “media tart” makes no apology for pushing
his message – any way he can. And he has successfully sold numerous messages
since he won office in 1997 with just 2.86% of South Australians writing “1” next to his name.
Apart from his bread-and-butter pokies issues, he has
taken a stand on pollies’ perks, ticket scalpers, fuel leaks, sustainable
development and drug rehabilitation reform. He’s also pushed for tougher
hit-run laws alongside the family of cyclist Ian Humphrey, killed by Eugene
He forced the Rann Government to adopt legislation to fast-track
compensation claims for families of asbestos victims after highlighting the
plight of dying mother Melissa Haylock. And it was Mr Xenophon who first raised the issue
of the mass cull of SA chickens because cheap interstate eggs were destroying
Yet, on March 18, Mr Xenophon is facing his toughest
challenge and no amount of stunts will help him. He needs 8.3% of
South Australian voters – expected to be around 70,000 to 80,000 – to support
him to gain a quota for one of the 11 Legislative Council spots. This time he
is unlikely to get across the line on preferences.
The one-man de facto
Opposition has been an irritant to the major parties since day one, and they
will be keen to see the back of him. Estimates vary, but Labor and the
Liberals should manage eight or nine spots in the Upper House, leaving the rest
to be fought out by the Democrats, Family First (strengthening as a party), the
Greens and Mr Xenophon.
Ironically, while Mr Xenophon is
one of SA’s highest profile politicians, ignorance is probably going to be his
downfall. He constantly recounts the story of one voter telling him: “I’d
love to vote for you, but I’m not in your electorate.” Let’s set the record
straight here – South Australia is his electorate. You are his
constituents. Do something right on March 18. Vote “1” for Nick Xenophon. South
Australia cannot afford to lose his drive and determination from the Parliament.
Wow, with an endorsement like that from a paper
that sells 330,000 copies, Xenophon will be good for a quota on his
primary vote alone. No wonder Rupert Murdoch’s brother-in-law, Federal
Liberal Party treasurer John Calvert-Jones, is having trouble raising
any cash in South Australia. The Liberal opposition are being outshone
by this one-man-band independent.