Xenophon is just another right wing politician
Xenophon is just another right wing politician

Nick Xenophon and his party, the Nick Xenophon Team (NXT), is the third force in South Australian politics, and looks set to outpoll the ALP and potentially hold the balance of power in the Senate.

As enthusiasm for the two major parties has declined, Xenophon has gained popularity by presenting himself as an alternative to traditional politics – an option for the voter who is sick and tired of professional politicians and sick of the ALP, which has been in government in South Australia for years. 

But Xenophon is every bit as much a politician as his competitors. From his start in student politics as a member of the Young Liberals, the rigged election by which he became editor of the Adelaide University student newspaper On Dit (his good conscience led him to reveal the fraud – directly after his tenure), to his lawsuit against the national student union for promotion of women’s and gay rights – Xenophon came into politics a staunch conservative. A political resumé like this is a dead giveaway that there’s nothing progressive in his “independence”. 

Though now more adept at disguising his right wing positions than in his student days, Xenophon remains right wing scum. He’s voted against marriage equality and voted to restrict the right of union reps to enter workplaces. His much lauded opposition to fee deregulation was merely on the basis that the Liberals did not yet have a mandate to implement it. He told the Sydney Morning Herald in 2015 that, for his support, the government would need to take fee deregulation to an election. 

Should the Liberals win this election, don’t expect Xenophon to oppose $100,000 degrees. Things don’t get much better when it comes to workers – the NXT praises the Fair Work Commission and supports the reduction of Sunday penalty rates for small businesses. Xenophon also supported the Liberal government’s unsuccessful effort to reintroduce the anti-union ABCC. 

Far from the picture painted by both him and his rivals of being the populist outsider, Xenophon couldn’t be more similar to his fellow parliamentarians. He’s a political insider committed to the same attacks on workers and the same worship of business. 

He had no qualms about the Liberals when they were rigging a student election to guarantee him office and he has no qualms about them now. Under vague statements about supporting South Australia and being fair lies a hardened conservative politician, itching to attack workers to deliver for his small business-owning base.

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