Leader of the Nick Xenophon team and Senator for South Australia, Nick Xenophon, has surprised even the most informed political observers and announced today his resignation from the Senate to contest the lower house seat of Hartley in the 2018 South Australia State Election.
Through his state based SA-BEST political party, Xenophon intends to shake up the traditional liberal/labor duopoly and run candidates in at least a dozen seats in the March 18 election – with him at the helm. This has thrown the South Australia election into a level of uncertainty as a result of Xenophon’s unbelievably strong profile and standing amongst central state voters in the political sphere. Both Labor and Liberal powerbrokers will be scrambling over the coming days to look at the possible impact.
SA-BEST has been fledging recently and it appears Xenophon recognises the political opportunity and necessity of returning to state politics and save the day. Only two months ago, SA-BEST was rocked by the resignation of its only sitting member of Parliament, Upper House MP John Darley. Darley who has stayed on as an independent stated a key problem was Xenophon ‘just wants everything his own way’.
What does this mean for the Federal Parliament?
Xenophon believes his vacancy will be filled by a member of the Nick Xenophon team (NXT) regardless of next week’s High Court verdict on the status of his citizenship. Who this will be is not yet known.
With his departure, the Senate has lost a key influencer – Xenophon was an influential and experienced negotiator that the Government often turned to in order to earn the support of the three votes within his team. With his team lacking the political know-how and experience that their leader encapsulated, the Government’s Senate negotiations are about to become more complex.
Xenophon has stated he will continue to be involved with the federal NXT, especially on issues that impact his beloved South Australia – think defence, energy and water. Questions remain on whether this will further complicate the leadership change within the party. Xenophon has been losing friends and favours for a while now and his party, at the federal level, has been struggling for a consistent message to both their parliamentary colleagues and the broader electorate.
What it does clearly state and reminds us all, that when talking to the NXT, that you must come to the table with the lens of one State and one State only.
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