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"It's different": Political sands shift for Xenophon's national assault

Politics

The timeline for Nick Xenophon’s long-awaited unveiling of his national “team” to take on a swag of lower house and senate seats has been pushed out again, as the SA Senator adjusts to life after Tony Abbott.

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Originally slated for October, then November, Xenophon will now be revealing his candidates in “early December” – but not all his candidates.

“I’ll be announcing (candidates) for a number of seats,” Xenophon told InDaily.

“(Candidates are) finalised for a number of seats and there’ll be more to come in the New Year.”

The senator said he “wouldn’t read too much into” the revised timeframe, saying it’s “just a function of (the fact) I’m completely flat out in Canberra for the next two weeks”.

He said the Nick Xenophon Team would run a “grassroots community campaign” as “we don’t have the resources of the major parties”.

“I think we’ll be running on not a shoestring budget, but a dental floss budget,” he said.

InDaily revealed in September that Liberal Party polling had the NXT running second in at least four SA seats, but the subsequent elevation of Malcolm Turnbull has completely changed the political landscape, likely to Xenophon’s detriment.

“It’s different, I think,” he acknowledged.

“It’s good in the sense there’ll be less of a focus on personality politics, and more on issues.”

He said those issues included job losses, with “the impending departure of General Motors Holden a very significant factor”, defence procurement with the future submarines and “trying to avoid the so-called valley of death”, and generally the “huge challenge of manufacturing (that) keeps me awake at night”.

“It is what it is,” Xenophon said of the Liberals’ polling revival.

“The issues are still there … the circumstances have changed (but) there are new challenges.”

The changed landscape also appears to have delayed Labor’s progress in fielding a candidate to contest Christopher Pyne’s seat of Sturt. Nominations for the seat have not yet re-opened, with potential star candidate Jo Chapley telling InDaily she was still considering whether to put her name forward.

InDaily first revealed she was weighing up her options in August, but it’s understood party insiders now consider a federal election unlikely until at least September next year.

“Malcolm Turnbull is just Tony Abbott with social skills,” Chapley said.

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