The stultifying impact of the group think that dominates the federal press gallery was never more obvious than at the weekend when the announcement of a new political party went virtually unreported. In my opinion, Nick Xenophon’s announcement that he is taking his independent ideas national is the most significant political event of 2014. The NXT – the Nick Xenophon Team – should rock the major parties to their very foundations as it boosts the already strong movement by voters away from Liberal, Labor and National. Yet the launch by Senator Xenophon of his new Team was ignored at the weekend and again this morning by the so-called movers and shakers of political journalism. Such reports as you will find are based on an orthodox straight report from AAP with this, stuck away at the bottom of the Sydney Sunday Telegraph, being typical:
Only the Senator’s home town Sunday Mail gave the Xenophon statement the prominence it deserved:
Not that being so stupidly ignored by most of the media will blunt for long the South Australian Senator’s plan to take his attack on the two party system. He is the supreme parliamentary publicist of my 50 years reporting from Canberra. We will be reading and hearing much about NXT in 2015 and beyond.
Here is the full text of the statement that should have been on page one everywhere”
NXT Launch Speech by Nick Xenophon, 7 December:
The last two weeks in federal parliament are glaring proof that politics in Australia has become so toxic, so negative that its destroying our trust in our democracy, and the ability to fix nation’s problems.
Every couple of years the major political parties have expected us to walk into a polling booth and put a number one in the box of the political party we dislike the least.
Voters are sick of parties that promise one thing before an election and do the opposite afterwards. And they’re sick of the sort of behaviour we’ve been seeing in Parliament.
Now, there are good people in the Coalition and Labor.
But the current two-party system is so suffocating that good politicians can’t do what they believe is the right thing.
Way back in 1988, when the current Parliament House was opened in Canberra, Australians were actively encouraged to walk on the huge lawns above our nation’s capital building.
The designers of Parliament House thought that symbolically, it was incredibly important that any Australian – woman, man, or child – could casually stroll above their elected leaders.
It was a reminder that at the top of our political system are the people – not the pollies, not the donors, not the spin doctors – but the people.
And that’s the way it must always be.
That’s why today I am announcing my intention to launch a new and better national political choice for Australia.
While I’m a little uneasy about using my name for this new choice, I’ve been convinced by others that it’ll make it easier to find NXT on a ballot paper.
NXT is about politics, done differently.
It’s about creating a common sense approach to politics.
NXT will be a centrist choice.
It’s not about left or right, it’s about right or wrong.
It’s about looking at every issue on its merits and working out the best outcome for everyone.
For too long the major parties have cynically got together to block sensible reforms, because of narrow powerful interests. Pokies are a classic and tragic example where the public interest has been crushed by the vested interests of the gambling lobby.
It’s time politicians were honest with the Australian people.
Voters shouldn’t be forced to choose between the left or the right of the political spectrum, when most of us just want to be somewhere in the middle.
For the past few months I have been working with a small team planning this launch.
And in the next year I will find like-minded people to run in every state and territory who share the same common sense approach to politics.
The NXT will be committed to open and honest communication with the Australian people.
We’re not going to spin. We’re not going to rely on fear campaigns.
We’re not going to spend all our efforts trying to make our opponents look bad.
NXT will simply tell you how we see things, get your advice and then tell you straight what we intend to do about it.
If you like what we plan to do, you can vote for us. It’s that simple.
If successful, we will continue the kind of collaborative approach I’ve always employed in my dealings with my fellow Senators.
I believe that a spirit of co-operation should be the norm, not the exception.
That said, real independence will be important to NXT.
We’re not going to be for sale to the highest bidder in the way the major parties sometimes seem to be.
Put simply, you can give NXT money if you like what we do, but you can’t give us money to change what we do.
The NXT wants donors, not owners.
Hopefully the NXT will be able to sustain itself with small donations from ordinary Australians who just want democracy to work for them.
Now, I’ve been in politics for a decade and a half.
And I can’t think of a time when Australian voters have seemed more disillusioned and disengaged.
I cannot tell you how many people have stopped me around the nation, from Broome to Ballarat, from the top end to Tasmania – especially in the last two years – and asked if they will ever be offered a different, better choice in Canberra.
The answer is yes, and that’s why I am sticking my neck out.
Politicians should listen to the people instead of walking all over them.
And they should respect the fact that they are here to serve, not to rule.
That’s what NXT will stand for.
And I hope the people of Australia will support NXT.