Nick Xenophon’s initiative to open his books is most welcome. And
his rapid response to rumours about financial funny business shows that he
is not going to rest on his laurels.

But for some years now I have seen
him as a rampant populist. He’ll fight for the little man – but only if the
little man is acceptable to the broader community. I know this because in
2001 I met with Nick to ask him to speak up for refugees. He didn’t want to
touch them. It was post 9/11 and Mosques were getting bombed. So I asked him
to speak up for Muslims. He was prepared to put his name to a list but only
after other prominent people had done so.

Since then he has astutely jumped on every emerging interest
group from residents resisting infill to the land tax revolt
currently underway. He regularly chairs public meetings for these interest
groups.

I stand to be corrected but I don’t think he has ever spoken out
against the law and order auction that has been underway for the last four
years.

And now he has teamed up with a woman with strong links to the
Festival of Light, Ann Bressington. A lot of Greens, Democrats and Labor
people voted for Nick and even staffed his polling booths. I suspect he
soaked up the progressive protest vote which would presumably have otherwise
gone to the Greens and to a much lesser extent, the Democrats.

He is brilliant although he has had some (presumably expensive
help). Look for the payments to PR companies when he opens his books.

Nick has done some good things for people who were ignored by
other parties. His Industrial Manslaughter Bill is probably the biggest
contribution. But it remains to be seen whether he will play any part in
tackling big issues like climate change or standing up for civil liberties in
our increasingly terrorized state. If he does, then all power to him. If he
doesn’t, then a lot of progressive voters will have been
Xenoconned.

Peter Fray

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