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Comeback for former Xenophon senator - but not for Nick

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Nick Xenophon has broken his public silence to strongly endorse his former federal colleague Skye Kakoschke-Moore, who was today announced as his former party’s lead Senate candidate – closing the door on a shock Canberra comeback after his failed foray into state politics.

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Centre Alliance, the rebadged former Nick Xenophon Team, today announced the endorsement of Kakoschke-Moore at the number one spot on the party’s Senate ticket. She was first elected on Xenophon’s ticket in 2016, but was forced to resign last year after discovering she was a British citizen amid the constitutional crisis then engulfing federal parliament.

Xenophon, who has stepped away from public life since his SA Best project failed to land a lower house seat at the March state election, was reluctant to be drawn today.

“I don’t want to comment on anything other than that Skye’s terrific, I genuinely wish her well,” he told InDaily.

“Skye was a terrific member of the Senate, she’s got a lot more to contribute and I really want her to do well.”

He did not respond to questions about whether her preselection was confirmation that he would not countenance a political comeback.

“I’m not commenting on anything further – I just want to say encouraging words about Skye,” he said.

He later tweeted his support for his former colleague.

Kakoschke-Moore said Xenophon had “made it really clear that he’s taken a step back from politics”.

“He’s given 20 years of himself to public office, and Centre Alliance is keen to make sure we honour that legacy of the work that he started in SA,” she said.

She believed the election would “no doubt… be a challenge” but was confident recent events in Canberra had sharpened the electorate’s appetite for an alternative to the two major parties.

“South Australians are still really hungry for another party to vote for, for a party they can trust, that is not beholden to invisible forces in the background,” she said.

“This time around we’ll be asking the electorate to vote for us on the back of some quite disappointing behaviour from politicians across the board.”

Kakoschke-Moore said she had unfinished business in the Senate, citing bolstering assistance for veterans transitioning out of the defence force, protecting children from online predators and addressing the National Disability Insurance Scheme, amid “a lot of concerns that it’s just not serving the people it was designed to”.

Unsurprisingly, Mayo MP Rebekha Sharkie was also reconfirmed as Centre Alliance’s candidate, with preselection for the regional seat of Grey – which NXT almost pinched in 2016 – to commence shortly.

Kakoschke-Moore said there was “a real appetite for centre parties at the moment [that are] able to have a tempering effect on the left and right of politics”.

Meanwhile, the Liberals will hold a ballot at Tatachilla tomorrow, which is expected to re-endorse Georgina Downer as the party’s candidate to take on Sharkie in Mayo.

Downer suffered a heavy defeat in July’s by-election, but appears likely to be given another crack at the general election, to be called by May next year.

That’s despite a preselection challenge by local Liberal member Reagan Garner, who today told InDaily he expected “around 200 to 250 people to show up” for the ballot.

“It’s hard to get a gauge on it… I haven’t had a lot of indication on voting intentions,” he said.

“There’s still a core group of people there who are quite attached to Georgina… but people have been respectful and welcoming and all those sorts of things.

“I’ve had a lot of positive responses.”

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