Centre Alliance

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Centre Alliance
Founder Nick Xenophon
Founded 1 July 2013 as Nick Xenophon Group
Ideology Centrism[1]
Social liberalism
Political position Centre
Colours           Orange and black
Slogan Working in Australia's interests[5]
House of Representatives
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Centre Alliance is a centrist[6] Australian political party primarily active in the state of South Australia. It was founded in July 2013 as the Nick Xenophon Team (NXT), with Senator Nick Xenophon as its leader, and made its national debut at the 2016 federal election.[7] Xenophon had previously run candidates under the names "No Pokies" and "Nick Xenophon Group".

Upon launching NXT, Xenophon said his motivation was "the electorate's lack of trust in politics and voter disillusionment".[8] After launching a South Australian state-based party named Nick Xenophon's SA-BEST, it was reported that NXT would be renamed as SA-BEST (Federal).[9] However, in April 2018 the party announced its new name would be "Centre Alliance".[10][11]

The Nick Xenophon Team contested the 2016 federal election, winning three Senate seats from a 21.7% state-wide vote in South Australia, as well as the House of Representatives seat of Mayo in South Australia from a 34.9% primary and 55.0% two-candidate vote.[12][13] However, it failed to poll well or gain seats in any state outside South Australia.

After the 2016 election, the party's representation changed with the resignations of Xenophon (to contest the 2018 South Australian state election, where he failed to be elected) and Kakoschke-Moore (for holding dual citizenship). The party appointed Rex Patrick as Xenophon's replacement, while the Court of Disputed Returns installed former NXT candidate Tim Storer as Kakoschke-Moore's successor following a recount; he chose to sit as an independent.

In 2018, deputy leader Stirling Griff made it clear that SA-Best is "a separate entity, a separate association, a separate party" from NXT.[14] However, it was reported that other parties have been registered, including NSW-BEST, VIC-BEST, WA-BEST, QLD-BEST and NT-BEST.[15]


The preceding ticket for the NXT was the Independent "No Pokies" ticket that ran in South Australian state elections from 1997 to 2006. It elected Xenophon from 1997 and another from 2006. The 2013 federal election saw independent "Nick Xenophon Group", with Xenophon as the lead candidate, win 24.9 percent of the statewide upper house vote in South Australia. This was an unprecedented result for a non-major party with Nick Xenophon Group out polling the Australian Labor Party to come in second behind the Liberal Party of Australia, which won office. Although Xenophon was re-elected his running mate, Stirling Griff, narrowly missed out to Family First's Bob Day.[16]

In 2014, Nick Xenophon Team (NXT) emerged from Nick Xenophon Group. Its management committee was composed of Xenophon, John Darley, Griff, and Connie Bonaros.[17]

The 2014 South Australian state election was the first time NXT appeared. Without Xenophon as a candidate, being in the national senate, NXT won 12.9 percent of the statewide upper house vote. John Darley, who was appointed in 2007 to succeed Xenophon for "No Pokies", was re-elected.[18]

On 5 March 2017, Xenophon announced that he would launch a new party in South Australia in time for the March 2018 state election to enable them to focus on domestic South Australian issues as opposed to wider Australia.[19][20] The party was registered on 4 July as Nick Xenophon's SA-BEST.[21]

The sole NXT state incumbent John Darley left the party and became an independent on 17 August 2017 ahead of the 2018 state election.[22] He said: "There are many things I could say as to why I have resigned. However, it is not my place to speak publicly about internal party matters".[23] Though it was stated that there had been months of conflict between Darley and the party, it came to a head a week prior when Darley voted with the Labor government to back Legislative Council voting reforms. Xenophon indicated the resignation had averted Darley's imminent expulsion from the party due to "breaches to party rules". Nick Xenophon's SA-BEST therefore contested the 2018 election without state parliamentary representation.[22]

The party submitted an application to change its name, abbreviation and logo to SA-BEST (Federal) to the Australian Electoral Commission in February 2018. The application was open for public objection until 7 March 2018 before a decision would be made,[24] but on 9 April 2018 the Electoral Commission announced that the application had been withdrawn.[25] Party supporters were advised on 10 April that a new application had been lodged to change the name to Centre Alliance.[26] The application to change the name and logo was advertised for objection by the Australian Electoral Commission on 7 May 2018.[27] Xenophon himself ceased to be directly involved with the party.[28] The name and logo change were registered by the electoral commission on 8 June 2018.[29]

Political positions[edit]

Immediately after the 2016 federal election, NXT Leader Nick Xenophon stated that the three main issues were manufacturing, gambling and farming. Xenophon stated, "There is a lot of work to do in terms of issues that are facing not just South Australia but the nation — our manufacturing industry, our farming sector, issues of predatory gambling".[30]

Centre Alliance also supports Australian industry, often supporting economic nationalism on matters before the Parliament: "When it comes to Australian made, successive governments have abandoned Australian industries and jobs by failing to stand up for Australian farming and manufacturing". Centre Alliance believes that everyone who wants to work deserves a job. They state that this can be achieved by demanding Australian governments to buy Australian for their goods and services, which amount to $60 billion a year. They support labeling laws to provide customers with information on ingredients and their country of origin.[31]

The party's platform is very similar to that of the Australian Democrats, which had been the main "small-l liberal" party in Australia for more than three decades prior to it losing all of its Senate seats in 2007. Centre Alliance was born in South Australia, which was the Democrats' main base of support for most of their existence.

2016 federal election[edit]


The selection process for NXT candidates at the 2016 federal election was called "exhaustive", with senate candidate for South Australia and campaign manager Stirling Griff being largely responsible.[32] In a later article, however, Richardson called it "a two-man team" of selectors (Griff and Xenophon).[33] According to Griff, NXT aimed to field candidates that had "real life experience", as opposed to "celebrities... academics... [or] political groupies".[33] These comments were reflected in the composition of NXT candidates for the election, with one third of them coming from a 'small business', 'grassroots' background.[34]

Xenophon confirmed in December 2014 that by mid-2015 Nick Xenophon Team would announce candidates in the South Australian Liberal seats of Sturt, Hindmarsh and Mayo, along with seats in all states and territories, and preference against the government in the upper house, at the 2016 federal election, with Xenophon citing the government's ambiguity on the Collins class submarine replacement project as motivation.[35]

NXT fielded two senate candidates in every state, with four in South Australia. It fielded candidates in all eleven of the South Australian House of Representatives seats, along with Calare, Lindsay, Macarthur and Warringah in New South Wales, Groom and Moreton in Queensland and Higgins in Victoria.[36]


In June 2014, polling in the seat of Sturt held by Christopher Pyne–a major figure in the Liberal Party–indicated that an NXT candidate would have beaten him 38% to 31% in primary vote.[37] This was before Tony Abbott was replaced by Malcolm Turnbull as Prime Minister following the September 2015 Liberal leadership ballot. A January 2016 opinion poll conducted in South Australia by Roy Morgan found that NXT was slightly ahead of the Australian Labor Party, which is presently the opposition party to the governing Liberal Party of Australia.[38] A February poll for the next South Australian Election indicated a similar amount of support (20.5%), but with NXT third behind Labor.[39][40][41] ABC election analyst Antony Green believes that NXT could attract some 10-12% of the vote in the eastern states.[37] Griff believes that a double dissolution election could see as many as six NXT senators elected.[42] A 15 January 2016 article in the Sydney Morning Herald argued that NXT's debut national election had been undermined by the rise of Turnbull.[37] However, polling conducted after the change of Prime Minister indicated NXT support had only fallen by 0.2% in votes for the lower house, while support rose by 4% in the Senate.[34]

Multiple seat-level opinion polls in the South Australian rural Liberal seats of Mayo, Grey and Barker during the 2016 election campaign found NXT leading the Liberals on the two-candidate vote in all three seats. ABC psephologist Antony Green indicated NXT had a "strong chance of winning lower house seats and three or four Senate seats".[43]


Noel Pearson, voiced his public support of Nick Xenophon's "centrist" position in the Australian political landscape.[44] The Sydney Morning Herald called Pearson's speech a "ringing endorsement" of NXT.[40]

"[Xenophon] will be the target of a massive negative and personal campaign by Labor and Liberal. One Labor MP has already decided on a policy of “put Xenophon last” [in relation to preferences]... [M]y feeling is that Nick Xenophon may well play a major role" − Professor Dean Jaensch on the next Australian federal election[45]

NXT has attracted strong criticism from the Liberal Party. In 2015, soon after becoming Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull intimated that NXT would struggle to overcome the deficiencies of its leader, adding "Nick’s track record to date is that when he last ran with a running mate, he and Ann Bressington split up".[46] Education Minister Simon Birmingham attacked NXT candidate for the seat of Mayo, Rebekha Sharkie, for seeking the support of a farming group who had previously supported far right One Nation founder Pauline Hanson.[47] Xenophon rejected these claims as the group in question had not endorsed One Nation, but merely spoke "at an event".[47]

Former South Australian Liberal leader Martin Hamilton-Smith declared his support for the NXT candidate in Mayo during the 2016 federal election, stating that, "I think Rebekha's a good candidate for Mayo, I live in Mayo so I want a candidate that's going to stick up for SA and the local district and I think she's the right person". He also stated that he was not considering a run with NXT in the future, rather believed that the NXT candidate was the best person for the job in his electorate. Mayo Liberal candidate and Minister for Cities and the Built Environment Jamie Briggs stated that, "I think what it reveals is you just can't trust these independents".[48]

2016 election campaign[edit]

Primary vote % (SA 2016)

The nascent Nick Xenophon Team ran candidates at the 2016 federal election for the upper house with two candidates in each of the six states, a candidate in all eleven lower house seats in South Australia, and additionally a candidate in seven lower house seats in three other states – Calare, Lindsay, Macarthur and Warringah in New South Wales, Groom and Moreton in Queensland, and Higgins in Victoria. As the election was a double dissolution the Senate electoral quota of 14.3 percent was halved to 7.7 percent. Though NXT's South Australian Senate primary vote was reduced to 21.7 percent (–3.1), the halved Senate quota resulted in three successful NXT candidates in the upper house alone, electing Xenophon and Stirling Griff for six-year terms and Skye Kakoschke-Moore for a three-year term. NXT was also successful in the South Australian Division of Mayo in the lower house, electing Rebekha Sharkie.[12][13][49] NXT's South Australian lower house vote was 21.3 percent. NXT did not poll as highly in other states. The overall nationwide NXT primary vote was 3.3 percent (456,369 votes) in the Senate and 1.9 percent (250,333 votes) in the House.[50]

Early results from counting on the evening of election night showed that Rebekha Sharkie would win in Mayo and Xenophon and Griff would win senate seats. Two more lower house seats, Grey and Barker were possible, as was a third senate seat for Skye Kakoschke-Moore. After counting and distributing preferences, the NXT candidates in Barker[51] and Grey[52] both placed second to the Liberal incumbents and placed second in Port Adelaide to the Labor incumbent.

In the presence of NXT candidates in all eleven South Australian seats, both major parties recorded a suppressed primary vote, resulting in a reduction of the major party primary vote in all but one South Australian seat. Though Labor picked up a two-party swing in all eleven, NXT's presence produced a result where Kingston ended up as the only South Australian seat to record an increase to a major party primary vote. Kingston also recorded the highest major party primary vote of just 49 percent. In NXT's presence, no party won a majority of the primary vote in any of the eleven seats. NXT's lower house primary vote was highest in Mayo (34.9%) and lowest in Adelaide (12.9%). While Mayo has always polled strongest for minor parties, Adelaide's result is in contrast to 2007 where the Xenophon Senate ticket polled better in Adelaide than in most other seats.[53]

During the campaign Xenophon and the NXT were the subject of numerous attacks from both major political parties.[54] This included an attack levelled at his failure to declare a directorship of Adelaide Tower Pty Ltd, which involved his father. Xenophon accused proponents of this attack of a "partisan and personal campaign".[55] Labor requested the Australian Electoral Commission investigate questionable loans given to Xenophon by businessman Ian Melrose.[56]

List of parliamentarians[edit]

Australian Senate[edit]

  • Nick Xenophon (SA), 2008–2017 (re-elected in 2013 and 2016, announced resignation in 2017).
  • Senator Stirling Griff (SA), 2016–present. Spokesperson for health, immigration, and communications.
  • Skye Kakoschke-Moore (SA), 2016–2017 (resigned in 2017 due to dual citizenship). Previous spokesperson for mental health, veterans affairs, and women.
  • Senator Rex Patrick (SA), 2017–present (replaced Xenophon).

Australian House of Representatives[edit]

South Australian Legislative Council[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Party Launch: Speech by Nick Xenophon". Nick Xenophon Team. 7 December 2014. Retrieved 27 June 2016. 
  2. ^ "Brexit, Trump... Xenophon? Australia's modest populist backlash". Smh.com.au. 2016-06-27. Retrieved 2017-03-10. 
  3. ^ "Turnbull must contain populists to win the battle of ideas". The Australian. Retrieved 2017-03-10. 
  4. ^ Chris Berg (2016-07-10). "Populism is not a dirty word". Institute of Public Affairs Australia. Retrieved 2017-03-10. 
  5. ^ "Nick Xenophon Team". Nick Xenophon Team. Retrieved 8 March 2017. 
  6. ^ Adam Gartrell (15 January 2016). "Nick Xenophon's plan to build a new political force is faltering". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 4 July 2016. 
  7. ^ "Nick Xenophon Team — Australian Electoral Commission". aec.gov.au. Retrieved 2015-04-06. 
  8. ^ "Independent Senator Nick Xenophon to launch new party". 6 December 2014. 
  9. ^ Karp, Paul (31 October 2018). "Nick Xenophon names replacement and says he'll stay on as party leader". 
  10. ^ "NXT moves on to next name: Centre Alliance". 9 News. 10 April 2018. Retrieved 10 April 2018. 
  11. ^ "NXT becomes Centre Alliance in expansion bid, still opposes company tax cuts". Financial Review. 2018-04-10. Retrieved 2018-04-10. 
  12. ^ a b "Senate Results: South Australia — Australia Votes — Federal Election 2013 (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". 
  13. ^ a b "Senate Results — Australia Votes — Federal Election 2016 (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". 
  14. ^ http://mpegmedia.abc.net.au/rn/podcast/2018/03/bst_20180320_0806.mp3
  15. ^ "Nick Xenophon Is Quietly Expanding His Party Into Victoria And NSW". Retrieved 28 June 2018. 
  16. ^ "2013 SA Senate election results: AEC". Results.aec.gov.au. 2013-10-18. Retrieved 2017-09-19. 
  17. ^ "Governance — Nick Xenophon Team". Nxt.org.au. Retrieved 2016-10-13. 
  18. ^ "2014 SA upper house election results: ECSA". Ecsa.sa.gov.au. 2014-04-17. Retrieved 2017-09-19. 
  19. ^ Smith, Matt (5 March 2017). "Nick Xenophon launching new South Australian party called SA Best". Sunday Mail. Retrieved 14 March 2017. 
  20. ^ Opie, Rebecca (5 March 2017). "Nick Xenophon launches SA Best party for 2018 South Australian election". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 5 March 2017. 
  21. ^ "Register of political parties". Electoral Commission of South Australia. Retrieved 6 July 2017. 
  22. ^ a b c "Darley quits NXT to avoid expulsion, labels Xenophon 'a complete dictator'". 17 August 2017. Retrieved 28 June 2018. 
  23. ^ "Xenophon MP quits the party in SA: SBS 17 August 2017". Retrieved 28 June 2018. 
  24. ^ "Change to Register - Nick Xenophon – Name, abbreviation and logo" (PDF). Register of Political Parties. Australian Electoral Commission. 6 February 2018. Retrieved 2 March 2018. 
  25. ^ "Application withdrawn - Nick Xenophon Team" (PDF). Australian Electoral Commission. 9 April 2018. Retrieved 10 April 2018. On 9 April 2018, Gabrielle Paten, Assistant Commissioner, as a delegate of the Electoral Commission for the purposes of s 134 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, approved the Nick Xenophon Team withdrawing the application to change the Party’s name, to register an abbreviation, and to change the Party’s logo in the Register of Political Parties. 
  26. ^ Richardson, Tom (10 April 2018). "NICK OFF: Xenophon dropped in radical NXT rebrand". InDaily. Retrieved 10 April 2018. 
  27. ^ Paten, Gabrielle (7 May 2018). "Register of Political Parties" (PDF). Australian Electoral Commission. Retrieved 7 May 2018. 
  28. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". Centre Alliance website. Centre Alliance. Retrieved 11 May 2018. Q. Why did you change your name from the Nick Xenophon Team to Centre Alliance? A. Nick Xenophon is no longer involved with the party so it was appropriate to change the party name to a name that reflects the common sense centrist approach the party takes when tackling issues. 
  29. ^ "Application to change the Register of Political Parties Nick Xenophon Team" (PDF). Notice under s 134(6A) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918. Australian Electoral Commission. 8 June 2018. Retrieved 8 June 2018. 
  30. ^ "Election 2016: Grey a hope for NXT as Nick Xenophon ready for talks on hung parliament". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 3 July 2016. Retrieved 3 July 2016. 
  31. ^ "Our Focus". Nick Xenophon Team. Nick Xenophon Team. Retrieved 3 July 2016. 
  32. ^ "The power behind the Xenophon throne — InDaily". 21 October 2015. 
  33. ^ a b "Xenophon party promises no egomaniacs, no academics". 22 October 2015. 
  34. ^ a b "Nocookies". The Australian. Retrieved 2016-10-13. 
  35. ^ "Subs backlash: Nick Xenophon sets sights on Liberal-held seats in Adelaide". 
  36. ^ "Candidates for the 2016 federal election". Australian Electoral Commission. 12 June 2016. Retrieved 12 June 2016. 
  37. ^ a b c "Nick Xenophon is South Australia's most popular pollie but his bid to go national is faltering". 
  38. ^ "Nick Xenophon Team beats Labor in SA: poll". The New Daily. 
  39. ^ "Nick Xenophon Team (NXT) increases support in South Australia while L-NP well in front in NSW and ALP holds solid lead in Victoria". 
  40. ^ a b "As Clive Palmer falls, Nick Xenophon soars". 
  41. ^ "Federal Voting Intention unchanged: L-NP 52.5% maintain clear 2PP lead over ALP 47.5%". 
  42. ^ "Double dissolution could mean six Senate seats for Nick Xenophon". The Advertiser. 
  43. ^ "South Australia Election Guide — Australia Votes — Federal Election 2016". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 
  44. ^ "Pearson says he regrets Abbott's 'passing' as PM". Sydney Morning Herald. 27 January 2016. 
  45. ^ http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/opinion/why-is-nick-xenophon-so-popular/news-story/2f7f1c0eb09390e34a9512f79fb55788
  46. ^ "PM's Team Xenophon trepidation". The New Daily. 
  47. ^ a b "Nocookies". The Australian. Retrieved 2016-10-13. 
  48. ^ "Election 2016: Martin Hamilton-Smith scathing of Liberal Jamie Briggs as he backs Nick Xenophon Team". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2 July 2016. Retrieved 2 July 2016. 
  49. ^ "Xenophon's election budget hits $1m". 
  50. ^ 26, scheme=AGLSTERMS.AglsAgent; corporateName=Australian Electoral Commission; address=50 Marcus Clarke Street, Canberra, ACT 2600; contact=13 23. "2016 Federal Election - AEC Tally Room". Australian Electoral Commission. Retrieved 28 June 2018. 
  51. ^ "Barker — Australia Votes". Election 2016. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 13 July 2016. 
  52. ^ "Grey — Australia Votes". Election 2016. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 13 July 2016. 
  53. ^ Commission, Australian Electoral. "Divisions". results.aec.gov.au. Retrieved 28 June 2018. 
  54. ^ "Lambie, Xenophon, Lazarus, Hanson are threat to stability, PM declares". 30 June 2016. 
  55. ^ "Federal election 2016: Nick Xenophon's claim over tenant limit". The Australian. 
  56. ^ "Federal election 2016: Xenophon, his donor and the Timor tie-up". The Australian. 

External links[edit]