NICK XENOPHON BECAME ONE OF THE MOST ENDURING AND PROMINENT of South Australia’s history of political renegades.
His prominence in this role was tested – and failed – in 2018 when he unsuccessfully ran for a seat in the South Australian House of Assembly with a team of 36 candidates under the banner of the SA Best party. He resigned from the party he created later that year.
Xenophon in 1997 became the first independent elected to the South Australia Legislative Council in 60 years.
In his move to the Australian Senate in 2007, Xenophon made full use of his opportunities when holding a balance-of-power vote on legislation.
In this strategy, he follows another South Australian renegade group, the Australian Democrats who made the most of their position in the senate during the 1980s, especially with issues such the Goods and Services Tax.
Democrats were in turn the descendants of another renegade group in South Australian politics, the Liberal Movement who broke away from the Liberal Party in the 1970s.
South Australia spawned another party, Family First, that went from gaining a foothold in the state’s Legislative Council to playing a minor role in the senate.
Renegades has played key roles in landmark decisions in the South Australia parliament.
After the 1997 election, John Olsen’s Liberal government needed the support of two non-Liberal Legislative Council members, with the Australian Democrats holding the balance of power.
Defectors from the Labor party, Terry Cameron and Trevor Crothers often brough Xenophon’s vote into play in the South Australian Legislative Council. In 1998, Xenophon voted with Cameron and the Liberal state government to proceed with the second reading of the bill to sell the government-owned Electricity Trust of South Australia. The bill became law when Cameron and Crothers voted with the Liberal government.