Nick Xenophon named the most influential personality in SA

first_imgRanking number one on a recent list of the 100 most influential personalities in South Australia as selected by a panel of leaders from the Advertiser newsroom. The results were published in the paper’s recent poll, former senator and current SA-BEST Party Leader Nick Xenophon, who announced his decision to quit federal politics last October, is now ready to take on the challenge of claiming the seat of Hartley at the upcoming South Australian general election.According to the Electoral Commission SA, this March, around 1.2 million South Australians will be enrolled to vote at the 2018 State Election. More than 6,000 polling officials will work at 693 polling places making it one of the largest logistical exercises in South Australia. In an interview with Neos Kosmos, the 59-year-old politician talks about the day after the election, the key policies his party will be focusing upon, as well as the basic strategies he plans to follow tackle SA’s major issues.What do you anticipate the political landscape will be on the morning of the 18 March? Nobody knows what will happen. We are in completely unchartered territories. Never before has there been an election [in South Australia] when the duopoly has been challenged in this way. Even analysts who have been covering politics for decades agree that they have no idea who will be the winner of this election.Public opinion has you as a forerunner in this election. Do you consider that as a vote of confidence or simply as a result of a protest vote? I have discounted the opinion polls that say I am twice as popular as the premier. I don’t think the outcome of the election will be based on protest votes. I think a burnt souvlaki would have probably gotten a higher opinion rating than the premier and the opposition leader and that shows that people genuinely want change and an alternative that they can trust. It is a government that deserves to lose and an opposition that doesn’t deserve to win. I don’t think I will be dealing with Steven Marshall or Jay Weatherill after the election.Why do you think South Australians might choose to vote for you instead of the two major parties? I feel that people trust me. Yes, I make mistakes, but at least I try to acknowledge them and learn from them and I know that people appreciate me for being honest and straightforward. In addition, I feel that SA-BEST has many good candidates with expertise and community connections to contribute. Lastly, I think that people are fed up with the current government and are ready for a real change and a transparent government.One of your political concerns is the current state of employment in this state. Is it as good or bad as it is being reported? People don’t trust the unemployment figures because they understate the true level of unemployment. We know that if you work for an hour or more a week, you are not included as being unemployed and that’s nonsense. The unemployment statistics are misleading and the level of underemployment is massive and youth unemployment combined with underemployment could be in the order of 30 per cent or higher in some areas of Adelaide. That is a staggering figure because these are people who want to work and either can’t get work or aren’t working enough hours. The functions of government are on top of the list of your political agenda. Do you feel that you and your party can be the catalysts for change? We have a broken political system. We have a lazy parliament. The parliament needs to stop being a rocking horse and turn into a workhorse. If we make the parliament work more effectively, governments won’t make the same mistakes. Governments have not been held accountable in this state for many years. Parliament in South Australia needs to sit more days and to have Question Time that leads to questions actually being answered by a committee system, where people actually get together and examine a [piece of] legislation taking into account the opinions of independent witnesses, experts, and key groups before the legislation is further considered. We need an estimates process and that’s the process where the bureaucrats must, three times a year, (over a four-year period) answer questions on how they are spending their money, any problems emerging, where everything gets put under the microscope and that’s how we can avoid big problems being made. We need to change our whistleblower laws. There are so many people in the health system that want to come forward and tell the truth about the problems with the hospitals’ waiting lists and similar issues. People need to be fearless to tell the truth about how to improve things because currently, they are afraid to tell the truth in fear they might lose their jobs. We need stronger laws. If we reform the government, then we can keep governments on their toes. We also need to tackle some social problems. A lifelong political challenge has been the containment of the gambling epidemic. Are you still keen to change the status quo in this area? The broad theme of pokies policy is to reduce the number of pokies machines over a number of years in hotels and to make the machines much safer with less deceptive features and smaller jackpots, reducing the losses from $1,000 an hour to about $120 an hour. At the same time, I acknowledge that for some of the smaller hotels and country hotels that have just come into the industry, have signed up for a legitimate industry and we need to have a compensation mechanism in place which will cost money, but it will be worth it because it will mean that more money will go into local businesses and, more significantly, less people will be hurt. Even though I am not sympathetic to an industry that’s caused so much harm, I do acknowledge that we need to have some compensation transition mechanisms in place which will cost money, but it will be worth it. Is the drug issue in this state out of control and are you prepared to face it head on? The drug problem in South Australia is a big problem. Issues such as ice addiction require some bold targets to reduce it. We need to look at mandatory imputation. We need to confiscate all the assets of drug dealers and provide proper support for people and families because it’s just a curse. Drug addicts can’t make the right decisions for themselves and we need to protect civil liberties so people can live their lives in peace.Do you still entertain the idea that an increase in population will benefit SA? The population rate is very important. With a sensible population policy we encourage business migrants and people to invest and thus we can drive more jobs. Studies show that there is economic benefit to a country or a state if migrants come here and drive more jobs. All migrants can make SA a much better place.We also need to stop people from migrating interstate. In order to do that, it is critical to have a better education system. The vocational system has failed us. We need to encourage migration by encouraging foreign investments and take advantage of the region’s potential which is currently sporadic. The key to transform a state is to concentrate on education. We have to fix technical education and facilitate things instead of making things harder for industry leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs to facilitate ideas and grow. That’s where the future is; find a niche and expand on it.Property development and investment in South Australia is stalling. Consensus points to the land tax as being a major factor of this slowdown. What is your position on this? Currently our land tax is double the national average, therefore, nobody wants to invest and people are pulling money out of the state. Adelaide’s ‘square mile’, the CBD, should be a magnet for young people, but we need to get the foundations right. We need to bring land tax down as close as possible to the national average as soon as possible, because unless we do that, we will never see investment. People are building major commercial buildings and shopping centres interstate and that is a positive incentive to drive economic growth. **** After Steven Marshall’s accusation at a press conference earlier in the week that “Nick Xenophon has done a deal with Labor”, the SA-BEST leader threatened to sue the Liberal leader if he repeated those claims describing the suggestion as “political crap”. Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img read more