The Nick Xenophon gazette

Actually a compendium of news on the South Australian election, but it’s increasingly a fine distinction.

Polling conducted for corporate clients by YouGov Galaxy (as it’s now called) has found not only that Nick Xenophon will succeed in Hartley, but that SA Best candidates are poised to win Hurtle Vale and Mawson on Adelaide’s southern fringe. While the samples are only around 350 per electorate, the results are impressive in their consistency. Xenophon was on 37% of the primary vote in Hartley, compared with 32% for Liberal incumbent Vincent Tarzia and 21% for former Labor member Grace Portolesi, and led the Liberals 57-43 on two-party preferred. In Mawson, SA Best candidate Helen Wainwright was on 38%, to 25% for Liberal candidate Andy Gilfillan and 22% for Labor member Leon Bignell. In Hurtle Vale, SA Best candidate Michael O’Brien was on 33%, with Labor member Nat Cook on 29% and Liberal candidate Aaron Duff on 23%.

Meanwhile, Xenophon continues to play the media like a harp with a series of high-impact announcements of new candidates:

• The hook for Sunday’s announcement was that a father and son team, John Noonan and Jack Noonan, both engineers, would respectively take on Jay Weatherill in Cheltenham and Steven Marshall in Dunstan.

• On Friday, eight women candidates were unveiled: Karen Hockley, accountant and Mitcham councillor, in Davenport; Jassmine Wood, Charles Sturt councillor and Liberal candidate for the federal seat of Hindmarsh in 2010, in Colton; Kate Bickford, a commercial lawyer, in Badcoe; Tarnia George, former staffer to Nick Xenophon Team Senator Skye Kakoschke-Moore, in Ramsay; Helen Szuty, who was an independent in the ACT parliament from 1992 to 1995, in Playford; Sonja Taylor, a business administrator, in Taylor; Tracy Miller, a “River Murray advocate”, in MacKillop; and Carolyn Martin, “volunteer”, in Enfield.

• Another recently announced SA Best candidate is Tom Antonio, former Whyalla deputy mayor and one-time Liberal Party member, in the Whyalla-based seat of Giles. Antonio is in the news today over allegations his wife, Angela Antonio, was assaulted at a Remembrance Day event by Lyn Breuer, Labor’s member for Giles from 1997 to 2014 and now the mayor of Whyalla. The Advertiser reports that “a number of soldiers” have provided statements concerning the incident, and that the matter is now in the hands of prosecutors. Labor’s current member for Giles, Eddie Hughes, has accused Tom Antonio of distributing racist material and being under investigation for assault charges in the early 1990s.

• Xenophon’s party also has high-profile recruits in Gibson, which will be contested by Marion mayor Kris Hanna, and Port Adelaide, to be contested by Port Adelaide-Enfield mayor Gary Johanson. Kris Hanna held the seat of Mitchell, now abolished but largely corresponding with Gibson, under various guises from 1997 to 2010. He was elected for Labor, defected to the Greens in 2003, quit the Greens and narrowly retained his seat as an independent in 2006, failed to win re-election in 2010, and again ran unsuccessfully as an independent in 2014. Johansen ran as an independent at the Port Adelaide by-election in 2012, when he polled 24.3% in the absence of a Liberal candidate, and in Lee at the 2014 election, when he polled 11.2%.

InDaily reports that not everyone is on board: those to have rebuffed SA Best’s advances include former Port Pirie mayor Brenton Vanstone, who was approached to run against Geoff Brock in Frome after failing to win Liberal preselection; Wattle Range mayor Peter Gandolfi, who ran for the Liberals in Mount Gambier in 2006, and knocked back an approach to run in the neighbouring seat of MacKillop; and Tea Tree Gully mayor Kevin Knight, who “refused to run in King because he likes the O-Bahn extension too much”.

Non-Xenophon news, such as it is:

• The Liberals have promised to provide half the funding for a $24.2 million overpass at Port Wakefield north of Adelaide, though Labor inevitably claims it will cost more than that. While this is in the seat of Narungga (formerly Goyder), which is not normally regarded as a battleground, the Sunday Mail describes the intersection as “a long-running pain for holiday makers escaping Adelaide for the Mid North and Yorke and Eyre peninsulas, as well as a site of regular accidents”.

• As part of their defence of Hartley from Nick Xenophon, the Liberals promised last week to spend $7.5 million on a Park ‘n’ Ride facility at the Paradise interchange. Quoth The Advertiser: “Libs vow to pave Paradise and put up a parking lot”.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

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