Have a look at the Legislative Council results from South Australia
and you’ll see No Pokies MLC Nick Xenophon with 21.5% of the vote –
just four per cent behind the Libs. That could still translate over into places
for him and two more members of his team. Last week no-one was sure if he would
be re-elected.

In today’s Australian,
Clem Macintyre, senior lecturer in politics at the University of Adelaide, says Xenophon
is now the “second most recognised politician in the state after the Premier”.

Xenophon is a media sl*t – but he’s
also gone far above and beyond the call of duty in probably thousands of cases
to put his powers as a parliamentarian and skills as a solicitor to work to
help victims of gambling.

At the same time, though, he’s also
got into bed with a few unpleasant partners playing the populist – like battery
hen producers pretending they’re poor farmerswhen told to move their chooks into bigger cages and face up to the fact that
free trade between states has been in our Constitution since 1901.

Xenophon has repeatedly succumbed to
the blandishments of the Free Lunch Movement and the You Owe Us A Living
brigade.

Government spending can be a useful
quick fix. It doesn’t offer long-term solutions. And whatever the cause, the
money either has to be raised from taxpayers – or taken from some other public
program.

South Australians have liked what
they’ve seen in Xenophon. They see him as someone on their side. He can
continue with his stunts – but needs to get serious on a few other issues. He
may also have a PR matter to tackle.

Xenophon said he would not take
campaign donations of over $100. He told me earlier this year that he was financially
flat strapped. In the end, he had at least two types of fluteboards, staff in campaign
t-shirts on the polling booths and TV advertising.

South Australia’s electoral
laws serve the parties’ interest, not the public’s. There is no financial
disclosure. The Australian reports: “Mr Xenophon put up $70,000 of his own
money to finance his campaign, taking out a bank loan to retain the momentum in
the final fortnight, and had a further $80,000 of public donations.”

South Australians have been generous
with their votes for Xenophon. Presumably lots of little punters also were
generous with their money. But $80,000 in donations under $100? That’s a
minimum of 800 people parting with cash.

Even in the tally room on election
night there were rumours doing the rounds that egg producers may not have been
so poor when it came to helping Xenophon’s campaign. The sources were
subjective, but as a campaigner for openness and transparency, Mr X might like
to consider opening his books.

Peter Fray

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