The lead Senate candidate for the Nick Xenophon Team in New South Wales has resigned.
As Crikey has previously reported, NXT is expected to do very well in the upcoming election on current polling, especially if, as is looking increasingly likely, Australia goes to a double dissolution election.
Independent observers say that while the party’s stronghold is in South Australia (where it’s securing a quarter of the vote), it’s polling at a similar level to the Palmer United Party at the last election, giving NXT a shot at Senate seats in the eastern states of Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.
But Glen Frost has resigned from his post as the lead Senate candidate in New South Wales. “I’m still a member of the NXT party, and believe Nick and NXT will do really well at the next election,” he told Crikey.
Frost says his resignation came down to differences of opinion between himself and the party’s SA head office, headed by campaign manager Stirling Griff and Senator Nick Xenophon. The disagreements, he says, revolved around what issues to campaign on, as well as whether to run extra candidates in New South Wales. “NXT NSW [was] approached by two excellent potential candidates who wanted to stand for the House of Reps seats of Wentworth (Turnbull’s seat) and North Sydney — Griff and Xenophon said no.”
NXT very much runs as a state-based party, with candidates grouped into state-based Election Advisory Committees (EACs), which run the day-to-day campaigning. Griff acknowledged the NSW EAC had been keen to run more candidates, which he says he and Xenophon were opposed to.
“Certainly Glen had views on running additional candidates. We absolutely did not want that to be the case … We said they should focus on existing candidates.
“We don’t have funding or resources to run candidates outside South Australia in a significant number of seats.”
But Griff claims Frost hadn’t been devoting enough time to the campaign, which was a source of contention in the NSW EAC.
“We were aware that Glen had time pressures … Relatively recently, both Nick and myself went to Sydney to discuss with him campaigning and campaigning focus, he couldn’t make that meeting. His focus was primarily elsewhere.”
Griff says Frost resigned just before the NSW EAC called a meeting to discuss their Senate candidates. “Glen was finding it increasingly difficult to commit time to campaigning,” Griff said. “That’s why things went as they did.” Frost disagreed with the characterisation of his not having put enough time into the campaign. At a meeting on Monday night, the NSW EAC elected software engineer Aidan Dalgliesh as Frost’s replacement.
When Crikey spoke to a number of NXT candidates two weeks ago as part of our features on the party, we asked several whether they felt the team could go the way of Clive Palmer’s Palmer United Party, which has lost half its members since being elected. Those we spoke to dismissed the suggestion, saying Xenophon was a very different character to Palmer, and anyway, the team had been selected in a very different manner.
Despite the loss of a key candidate, Griff says the NSW EAC is now working well. “Aidan’s a great operator — he’s a strong, focused person,” he said of the new lead candidate. Griff downplayed the impact of losing Frost, saying the Senate campaign had barely begun. “There hasn’t been a significant amount of promotion yet,” he said.
Frost is the second NXT candidate to step away from the campaign — former Makin candidate Craig Bossie withdrew due to an “unexpected health issue”.