Nick Xenophon, do we like him?

With the news about the Australian federal election, I’ve been reading about South Australia’s Nick Xenophon, a sort of independent anti-gambling politician, who has a name as a political centrist and seems to be taking seats away from the Liberals.

I guess he’s seen as a showboat? (Is that even a word in Aus.?) But he seems sort of all right to me. So far the one thing I disagree with him on is that I am very in favor of wind power, and he gave a sort of weird objection to windmills. Other than that, he doesn’t seem too bad? What am I missing?

I get the impression some folks down under are really annoyed by all these independent politicians, if not him in particular.

So, Nick Xenophon, what do you think?

Australia has politics? I thought it was just kangaroos and man-eating spiders.

I neither like nor dislike him. Most of his policies seem decent, if a bit more centrist than my personal views are.

He seems very focused on his own state, which is somewhat appropriate for a Senator but does nothing for me since I am in a different state (though a member of the ‘Xenophon team’ did stand for senate in my state).

I like his views on gambling actually (but then, I used work on a helpline for problem gamblers).

I am skeptical that he is materially different from any other politician.

I think you are being generous calling anything other than his anti-gambling stand and pro South Australian protectionism a policy. On his website he calls them policy principles and they read like modern corporate motherhood statements of good intent with no hint of how they may be achieved. I think the fact that as a member of his party you have no say in policy unless your name is Nick Xenophon is probably a worry. I don’t think the history of single person parties is very good, despite Pauline Hansen’s resurrection.

However he comes across as a nice enough guy, even though he tries hard to pretend to be a battler, and I am all for banning poker machines or at least severely limiting them. I have been a gambler (horse racing and sports) since I was a teenager and it really saddens me to see young people today falling victim to those machines. Maybe Mike Baird will ban them in NSW off his own bat as they are a bigger social ill than greyhound racing. But maybe the hundreds of millions in revenue and their powerful supporters will stunt his “moral” actions.

Liberal and Labour politicians keep telling us we’re supposed to be deeply worried about all these minor parties and independents, but what that really means is that they don’t want all these minor parties and independents, because it makes their job harder.

However, the trend is for more and more minor parties to be elected over the years - as in, the major two getting less and less of the primary vote is a trend that’s been going on for decades. So I think you’d be hard put to say that Australians as a whole think independents and minors are bad.

As independents go, Xenophon’s pretty middle of the road, and I doubt if anyone hates him. Apart from other politicians whose limelight he steals, perhaps. More divisive figures would be the extreme rights (Hanson, Palmer, anyone ever associated with them) and, on the other side, the Greens.

And even more disconcertingly we remove those pollies via the ballot box without resorting to conventions more favoured 'merkinside like term limits or firearms.

South Australia is a political curiosity.

Small population. Tiny industrial base dependent on subsidised industries like cars and shipyards. A place where the graziers stand beside the wharfies at Alberton Oval and scream support for Port Adelaide. And all hold monumental chips on their shoulders about Victoria pinching their stuff.

Counter-intuitively there is a noblesse oblige in their politics. There hasn’t been a populist right wing player there since Federation, unless they can kick a football. Absolutely no interest in the ratbags that Queensland throw into the mix with disturbing regularity. The Greens aren’t a significant player in the State. On the other hand they are/were the home of the Democrats.

So if you want to make it in SA centre-left is the only political niche available. So a Nick Xenophon couldn’t really exist in any other state except perhaps Tasmania.

Initially he was a shameless self-promoter and stuntman, because if he wasn’t he wouldn’t have survived. As noted by *don’t ask since he started in 1997 he has only two platforms of anti-poker machines and protection for SA. I don’t have a fking clue about his core political beliefs.

Yet he has kept and grown his support while the other centre-left groups self detonated. In 2013 his senate primary vote was over 25% and he outpolled the ALP. He’s no fringe player. His 2016 senate vote is actually down 3% on 2013 which has meant he may not get the 3 quotas. He’s still polled 4x the Green vote.

He’s not batshit crazy and he’s now got both experience and a level head when these should be prime political assets. I doubt he’ll overplay his hand and he’s been a dealmaker his entire career so he should thrive in the next parliament.

Is Xenophon a xenophobe? Because that would be cool. :slight_smile:

His father’s a Cypriot-Australian, so I doubt it.

That still leaves open the possibility of xenomorph.


The 2nd generation Cypriots and Greeks I’ve known have been just as xenophic as everyone else. (I don’t know any Turk/Cypriots, and I never discussed immigration with the only Turk I’ve known)
Anyway, no I don’t like him. I voted for his senators, I support him on the gambling thing, I think I am probably closer aligned politically to him than to any other party, but I don’t like him.

Because he spent the last couple of years saying that “nobody” voted for some of his political rivals, and that the election system should be changed so that “his party” gets more representation, and his rivals get less.

In Vic, that was the whole policy of the Aus Dems, (an older centerist party that has all but disappeared), and I didn’t like them either.

Well. That’s disappointing. I confess I’m surprised at his attitude toward the election system. The Australian election system seems to be one of the best in the world, even if somehow you keep mosty sending parties named Lbr(**) into Parliament.

Did he want multi-member districts in more chambers? I guess I can understand that.

His people got more primary (1st preference) votes than they got seats. I don’t know that he had a policy about voting other that “we should have been elected rather than those other people who got hardly any primary votes”.

He supported the most recent minor change to the system to make it easier for him to win, and harder for other people to win. I don’t hold that against him - there is no perfect system, and I’m not convinced that the new system is materially worse than any other minor variation.

We have a long tradition of political parties who think that any system which doesn’t deliver victory is broken, immoral, and dishonest. The (left / union) Labor party here was formed just after the constitution was accepted, and believed that the constitution was designed to keep the people they represented out of power. I’m not a historian, but my impression is that for most of the 20th century they believed that any system which delivered a right/conservative gevernment was ~ broken, immoral, dishonest ~. Their solution (when it wasn’t “copy the Soviet system”) was mostly “copy what the British Labour Party wants”, that being their model.

What they wanted was abolution of the upper house, and first past the post voting. (First past the post voting was idiologically import to the Labor / Communist movement anyway).

I haven’t heard any evidence that Xenophon was advocating FPTP voting, but he clearly belived in his bowels that second, third, 27th or automatic party preferences weren’t “real” votes, like the people who voted for him.

Wow. That’s kind of terrible. FPTP is a really bad system.

Nick Xenophon stood for the South Australian Legislative Council in 1997 and received 2.86 per cent of the state-wide vote, or a quota of 0.34. Through preferences from micro parties he built that to a quota and was the first Independent elected in 60 years.

As a result of incessant self-promotions and even more importantly working his butt off in the 2006 SA election he increased his primary vote to 20.51%, sufficient to elect himself and the #2 on his ticket.

He switched to the Federal Senate at the 2007 election and received a total of 148,789 votes, representing 14.78% and was elected a Senator for South Australia on primary votes.

At the 2013 federal election Xenophon increased his primary vote to 258,222 (24.9%) just short of two quotas. His #2 received his excess 107k preferences in the 3rd round and needed to reach 148k on preferences. But he picked up less than 8k from the minor parties, the excess LAB and Green votes went mainly to Family First and he never go in front of the LIB #2 who took the last quota.

So with the exception of his first election Xenophon has been elected 4 times in his own right with first preferences and no other party’s candidate has been elected on his preferences. So you can see basis for his attitude.

This will change in 2016 as his slip in primary votes will likely see him short of getting 3 quotas and his excess votes will elect some other to be determined candidate.

One of the reasons why the English don’t hate it is, with the vey large number of people in the house of rep’s, and the unbiased districting, they have a tendency to get proportional representation just by having a small number of electorates where the independents / crazies /minorities are in the majority. Putting a small number of independents / crazy /minority rep’s in, which provides representation for the small number of independent / crazy / minority voters.

They don’t get anything remotely ressembling proportional representation. The Tories, with 36.8% of the vote at the last election - nearly two in three voters prefer someone else - have an absolute majority of seats. The Scottish Nationalists, with 4.7% of the votes, have 8.6% of the seats. The Liberal Democrats, with 7.9% of the vote, have just 1.2% of the seats. UKIP, with 12.7% of the vote, have just 1 seat - 0.2%. The Greens also have one seat, with 3.8% of the vote. Sylvia Hermon, with 0.06% of the vote, has the same parliamentary representation - 1 seat - as UKIP, with 12.7% of the vote.

There’s nothing remotely proportional about it.

I accept that “proportional” is the wrong word. Because of the large number of districts and unbiased districting, the UK has representation from minority parties, which would happen less in other countries with fewer representatives and /or biased districting.

I don’t know about “unbiased districting”; the districting is unbiased only in the sense that the rest of the electoral arrangements are so heavily biassed that no special effort needs to be made in the districting to ensure the massive over-representation of a few parties and the marginalisation of everyone else.

If you’re not Labour or the Tories, virtually your only prospect of getting more than a single seat is to have a pronounced regional or local appeal. Scots Nats voters and Unionist voters in Ulster are better represented, literally by an order of magnitude, that Liberal Democrat or UKIP voters. And all that’s happening here, really, is the errors and biasses of the system being repeated at regional level. If we just look at the Scottish vote, the Scots Nats are massively over-represented, and Tory and Labour voters are marginalised.

I don’t think the British put up with their system because, despite its flaws, it somehow ensures token representation for non-mainstream movements. I think they put up with it because, on account of its flaws, it marginalises non-mainstream movements and ensures a thumping majority (and therefore “stable government”) for one or other of the mainstream parties, despite the fact that the lucky party hasn’t secured anything like a majority of the votes.