While there have been many big-name independent senators in Australian politics over the past couple of decades, no one has grabbed the limelight on so many diverse issues as Nick Xenophon.
And now he proposes to return to home to South Australia and turn that state’s politics on its head.
Former Flinders University political scientist Dean Jaensch explains why Labor and Liberal parties in South Australia are in a state of panic: “On previous evidence, Xenophon’s party is likely to pick up over 20 per cent of the first-preference votes, putting him in position of kingmaker.”
Xenophon was first elected for a six-year term to the Federal Senate at the 2007 election and was re-elected at the 2013 election. He then formed NXT just before the 2016 election.
Before entering the Federal Senate, Xenophon ran successfully in the SA Legislative Council on the back of his No Pokies Gambling Movement. However, the anti-gambling crusade that propelled him into politics has actually done very little about the problem.
Xenophon is a superb media performer and is constantly on the phone to journalists proffering an opinion, making him one of the most identifiable politicians in the country.
The Australian newspaper’s Chris Kenny was particularly scathing of Xenophon:
“Here is a bloke who has dabbled in energy policy in SA for two decades while its Labor Government, encouraged by Coalition and Labor federal policy, has turned the state’s energy system into a running joke – the nation’s most expensive and unreliable electricity network.
“Here is a bloke who came into politics to tackle poker machines. Yet, when he entered the State Parliament, there were about 9,000 machines in the state; and there are about 13,000 now.”