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Xenophon preferred SA premier: poll

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Outgoing federal senator Nick Xenophon has been named as the preferred premier for South Australia, as he made a low-key potential farewell speech to the Senate last night and prepares to contest the March state election.

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A privately commissioned Galaxy poll puts Senator Xenophon’s party in a tight second position in the primary vote, with the Liberals on 31 per cent, SA Best on 30 per cent and the incumbent Labor Party on 26 per cent.

The statewide poll of 806 voters last week reveals Senator Xenophon, who will stand in the state seat of Hartley, as the preferred premier with 41 per cent support, compared to Premier Jay Weatherill and Opposition Leader Steven Marshall both on 21 per cent support, The Australian reports.

SA Best will field up to 20 candidates in lower house seats Senator Xenophon believes they can snatch from the two major parties, while five candidates will run for the upper house.

The senator is one of seven federal MPs whose citizenship status is before the High Court – his mother was born in Greece and his Cyprus-born father held a British passport – and gave a low key potential farewell speech to the Senate last night.

“I do not know when I’ll be making my last speech to the Senate, I hope this won’t be it because I have a lot to say about many issues affecting my home state of South Australia,” Senator Xenophon said during an adjournment debate speech.

“I will be leaving this place one way or other, sooner rather than later,” he said, before discussing what he sees as the unfinished business of political donation reform.

Attorney General George Brandis joked it was out of character for Senator Xenophon to deliver his potential farewell speech in a non-flamboyant way.

“While we do not wish you success in the South Australian election… nevertheless on behalf of the Government I did want to wish you well in a personal sense,” Senator Brandis said, adding he had dealt with the Government in a considerate and constructive manner.

Labor’s senate leader Penny Wong said the Senate wouldn’t be the same without him.

“I do wish you well,” she said.

It’s unclear when the High Court will hand down its ruling on the MPs’ citizenship status.

Eligibility for parliament is also in doubt for the Nationals’ Barnaby Joyce, Fiona Nash and Matt Canavan, former Greens senators Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters and One Nation’s Malcolm Roberts.

-AAP

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