Xenophon quits to put SA first

Xenophon quits to put SA first


Politics
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NICK Xenophon has announced he’ll be resigning from the federal Senate to pursue a career in the South Australian parliament via an election next year.

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Nick Xenophon.

Nick Xenophon.

NICK Xenophon has announced he’ll be resigning from the federal Senate to pursue a career in the South Australian parliament via an election next year.

He has been a leading political figure since being elected to the federal upper house 10 years ago including championing farm-related issues like the Murray Darling Basin Plan and challenging the impact on farmers of the retail dominance of Coles and Woolworths, through moves like selling milk at $1 per litre.

“I have the will and the hunger to win a seat,” he told media reporters today.

“This is about doing the best for South Australia – that’s my motivation.”

“I think the state is at the crossroads – now is the time.”

Senator Xenophon held the balance of power in the Senate from 2008 to 2011 – but is one of seven members of parliament who is facing questions marks over their eligibility for parliament due to the recent dual citizenship scandal, with the cases to be heard in High Court, as the Court of Disputed Returns, next week.

But his political powers have escalated in SA where – as the Nick Xenophon Team (NXT) - he had two other Senators elected at last year’s federal poll and a Lower House seat, via the rural seat of Mayo, after defeating Liberal Jamie Briggs.

Senator Xenophon said he would remain in the Senate fighting “for the state, until the High Court determines the outcome of the so-called citizenship case affecting me and six others, to be heard next week”.

“While my lawyers are confident I will succeed, whatever the outcome, once that decision is handed down I will be in a position to leave the Senate,” he said.

“I will not, as some have speculated, seek my reappointment to the Senate as I could if I wanted to.

“I do not want to do that.

“What I want to do is drive a campaign for change in SA – real change you can trust.

“I will, of course, still have a very active and direct role in decisions made at a federal level with NXT.

“Running for the seat of Hartley will be a big gamble for me, even though, as you know, I'm not a gambler.

“I'm sure that both Labor and the Liberals will pull out all the stops to try to prevent me and my team from breaking through into state parliament.

“They don't want their cosy little duopoly broken up.”

 Champion for farmers

It’s understood Senator Xenophon could even potentially return to the federal Senate if he didn’t win a seat at the election in March next year, if his replacement decided to step down and create a casual vacancy that would be filled by the NXT.

SA farmer and NXT candidate for the seat of Barker at last year’s election James Stacey said Senator Xenophon’s move from the Senate to return to SA politics was “tactically brilliant”.

Mr Stacey said the NXT leader had also been a “champion for farmers” over the past decade in Canberra but he was unsure who he would be replaced by.

Mr Stacey said the NXT leader had also been a “champion for farmers” over the past decade in Canberra but he was unsure who he would be replaced by.

“This is a brilliant strategic move by Nick and tactically brilliant because it will open up the contest at next year’s election and put some real heat in the campaign for everyone,” he said.

“During his time in Canberra, he’s been a real campion for farmers but of course has also championed ways to reduce the harm of gambling on communities.

“He’s also fought hard to reduce the damage caused by big businesses on smaller businesses due to market power abuse and that includes farmers and food processors and manufacturers.”

Mr Stacey said SA-BEST's presence in the SA parliament may also help improve the speed of the roll-out of mobile phone towers to avoid communication blackspots, in the program that’s co-funded between state and commonwealth governments.

He said SA had had fewer towers built in the regions due to the SA Labor government’s reluctance to co-fund them with the Coalition.

In March, Senator Xenophon launched the SA-BEST party to run candidates at the state’s next election.

“Just as NXT has unashamedly used its position in the Senate to advance better outcomes for South Australians, SA-BEST will relentlessly use a position of influence in the state parliament to secure reforms that will lead to better government, to the more reliable and affordable services South Australians deserve,” he said today.

“So, as the saying goes, I am going to put my money where my mouth is.

“In order to achieve that end, to bring government back to the people, I announce today my intention to run as the SA-BEST candidate for the seat of Hartley – my electorate.

“I’m a true local - I’ve lived there for decades.

“In the days and weeks to come I will be announcing SA-BEST's other candidates and the issues and policies we will be focussing on between now and March 17, 2018 - and in the new parliament after that.”

Senator Xenophon said it seemed Labor and the Liberals “are more interested in fighting about who gets their snouts deeper in the trough, rather than fighting for real people”.

“I’m sick of seeing this contest of low expectations,” he said.

“We have a government that deserves to lose and an Opposition that does not deserve to win.

“When the votes are counted on Saturday night, March 17 next year, the worst result would be politics as usual, more of the same – or as The Who once put it, ‘meet the new boss, same as the old boss’.

“We’ve got to do better than that.”

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