Nick's Achievements

(But there's a lot more to be done)

I've often been asked what I've been up to in SA and federal parliaments in the last 20 years, what I've actually achieved. It's a key question that every elected Member of Parliament must answer.

But before I list just some of the issues I've tackled and got results in, there's an essential part of any good MP's job that doesn't make the headlines. It’s just as, if not more, important and it's about advocating for people that otherwise wouldn't have a voice, that need help grappling with bureaucracy, and that need urgent assistance because of a crisis in their life.

It can be the most time-consuming part of an MP's job, but also the most satisfying. 

So, in addition to scrutinising legislation, going to literally thousands of committee hearings over the years, and moving amendments to Bills to improve them, here are some of the issues that I've been involved with (either alone, or with my federal colleagues):

 

Asbestos Victims Reform

Asbestos kills too many Australians who should never have been exposed to this deadly substance in the first place (Info here: https://www.asbestos.com/mesothelioma/australia/)

As a long-standing patron of the Asbestos Victims Association of SA, I have met too many victims of exposure to asbestos, and attended too many funerals.

In 2005, my private members bill in the SA parliament to substantially change compensation arrangements for asbestos victims was finally passed with bipartisan support. It has meant much better and fairer compensation arrangements for asbestos victims and their families

More needs to be done in terms of education and research, and to regularly review arrangements to ensure they are fair.

With a new wave of asbestos cases likely in coming years, due to the home renovations boom, the time for action is now.

Media:

(1 Nov 2005) SA’S ASBESTOS LAWS ARE A DYING SHAME

(28 Nov 2005) ASBESTOS LAWS: URGENT PLEA FOR BIPARTISAN SUPPORT

(1 Dec 2005) HISTORIC ASBESTOS LEGISLATION PASSED BY SA PARLIAMENT TODAY

(30 Jan 2017) TRUMP THIS: MOVE TO REQUIRE ALL BUILDING PRODUCTS FROM USA & CHINA TO BE TESTED FOR ASBESTOS BEFORE HITTING OUR SHORES

 

Cults

The freedom of religious belief is fundamental in Australian society (as is the freedom not to believe), however, when organisations, under the guise of religious belief, manipulate and exploit vulnerable people, then the law should act.

Back in 2009-2010, I introduced legislation and instigated a senate inquiry into the tax free status of organisations behaving in cult-like activities.

That Inquiry, which also comprised of the Coalition and Labor senators, unanimously recommended reviews and reforms, and also examined the possibility of establishing an organisation to protect people against cult-like behaviour, as has been established in France.

Media:

(12 Mar 2010) SENATOR XENOPHON TO ADDRESS INAUGURAL CONFERENCE ON CULTS

(7 Sep 2010) INQUIRY PUTS SCIENTOLOGY ON NOTICE

(7 Sep 2010) Inquiry into Tax Laws Amendment (Public Benefit Test) Bill 2010

(13 May 2010) XENOPHON INTRODUCES BILL FOR PUBLIC BENEFIT TEST FOR CHARITIES

(15 Apr 2011) CALL FOR CULT WATCHDOG

 

Competition and Consumer Law

I’ve introduced legislation at a Federal Level and instigated inquiries on improving competition and consumer law, particularly predatory pricing, and the power to force companies to divest assets where they have abused their market power.

I’m not against free trade – I just wish some of the deals we’ve entered into were better negotiated.

Under both Labor and Liberal governments in Canberra, I’ve pushed for changes to anti-dumping laws to ensure that there is a fairer playing field for Australian Industry being hit with dumped, below cost goods from overseas – that is against WTO rules.

Former Labor Home Affairs Minister, Brendan O’Connor, credited me for pushing the government into improving anti-dumping rules and resources for Australian companies to get assistance in those cases.

The coalition government has improved on those rules, and it’s in part because of the advocacy of me and my colleagues on this.

There’s still more to be done, but it’s certainly a real improvement of what was happening a few years ago.

 Media:

(16 Aug 2012) Inquiry into Australia's food processing sector

(20 Mar 2014) Inquiry into Competition and Consumer Amendment (Misuse of Market Power) Bill 2014

(26 Mar 2014) Inquiry into Ticket Scalping in Australia

(26 Mar 2014) TICKET SCALPERS ON NOTICE

(9 June 2016) Why the Nick Xenophon party is against free trade fundamentalism - Australian Financial Review

(1 Dec 2016) Inquiry into Competition and Consumer Amendment (Misuse of Market Power) Bill 2016

(21 Jun 2017) Competition and Consumer Amendment (Truth in Labelling—Palm Oil) Bill 2017

(22 Jun 2017) OILS AIN'T OILS

 

Defence Abuse

Back in 2012, I instigated an inquiry into defence abuse, and then a subsequent inquiry into the Government's response to the Defence Abuse Response Taskforce (DART).

The formation of DART at the time of the first enquiry came about because of the public pressure on the issue.

The compensation scheme that was instigated was a welcome first step, but then the scheme was wound up – until my then-senate colleague, Skye Kakoschke-Moore, pushed for the terms of the scheme and funding to be extended. The additional $25 million for compensation for defence abuse victims was a welcome development – something that was directly negotiated by me and my team.

Media: 

(28 Aug 2014) Inquiry into Government response to the Defence Abuse Response Taskforce (DART)

(5 Sep 2016) DART MISSES THE TARGET - DEFENCE ABUSE WHITEWASH

 

Dodgy and Substandard Building Protocols

Dodgy and substandard building products have been the subject of advocacy for consumers and senate inquiries by me and my team.

My discussions with the Federal Minister responsible, Craig Laundy, were constructive and tougher regulations and oversight are needed.

Media:

(23 June 2015) Inquiry into Non-conforming building products

(13 Nov 2015) DODGY IMPORTED BUILDING PRODUCTS INQUIRY BEGINS TODAY 

 

Education

Despite the grossly misleading claims by SA Premier, Jay Weatherill, about education funding, NXT (and particularly my colleague Rebekha Sharkie) negotiated a much-improved outcome for education funding last year, including:

  • Australian Schools will receive $23.5 billion over the next 10 years - $4.9 billion extra
  • Australian Schools will receive an extra $1.4 billion over the next four years
  • SA's 718 schools (518 government, 102 independent and 98 Catholic) will receive an extra $424 million over the next 10 years
  • SA's schools will receive an extra $132 million over the next four years

In addition, there are benchmark standards that will need to be followed to improve outcomes.

David Gonski supported these reforms and additional funding, and said if they were not passed, it would have been a disaster for Australian schools and students.

Even a former head of the Australian Education Union (AEU), Dianne Foggo, issued a statement supporting the changes.

The highly partisan remarks by the state Labor Government are not only wrong – they lack credibility given the SA Government poorly Gonski initially with the then-Gillard Government, pushing the bulk of the expenditure beyond the 4-year forward estimates period. Given the SA record of falling NAPLAN results (compared to other states), and the TAFE and vocational training debacle, their criticisms are hollow.

Media:

(21 Jun 2017) 'Real' Gonski win for Australian schools

(6 Mar 2018) XENOPHON PROVIDES EVIDENCE OF GONSKI SUPPORT

 

Employment

NXT negotiated an extra $100 million for an Advanced Manufacturing Fund to help transition the loss of manufacturing jobs in SA and Victoria with the closure of auto-manufacturing. That fund will help businesses transitioning to other forms of advanced manufacturing.

More needs to be done, but that fund was a welcome step that acknowledges the importance of small and medium manufacturing businesses affected by the closure of auto-making.

  • 60 million for apprenticeship mentoring programs so that completion rates for apprentices can be dramatically improved.

Media:

(8 May 2017) ADVANCED MANUFACTURING FUND TO TURBOCHARGE JOBS

(1 Dec 2015) SENATE COMMITTEE WANTS SWEEPING CHANGES TO GOVERNMENT APPROACH TO AUTO SECTOR TO PREVENT TSUNAMI OF JOBS LOSSES

(1 Dec 2015) Inquiry - Future of Australia's automotive industry

 

Energy

  • Playing a key role in securing the $110 million equity concessional loan for the Port Augusta Solar Thermal project which was instrumental in getting the $650 million project across the line
  • Support an efficient emissions trading scheme to ensure Australia meets it international commitments under the international Paris agreements.
  • I was a proponent of the Frontier Economic Scheme designed in 2009, which has since received support from both business, NGOs, and conservation groups
  • Power affordability and reliability policies, including gas retention lease changes and gas supply in the public interest which will help lower prices

 Media:

(1 Nov 2012) Inquiry - Reducing energy bills and improving efficiency

(9 Mar 2017) ESCOSA IN THE DARK ON PORT LINCOLN POWER SUPPLIES

(1 Apr 2017) SUMMARY OF MEDIA CONFERENCE AT AINSLIE IGA (ACT) ON TAX CUTS, POWER PRICES & SOLAR THERMAL PLANT AT PORT AUGUSTA

(7 Apr 2017) Inquiry - Stability and Affordability: Forging a path to Australia’s renewable energy future

 

Families & Business

  • Whistle-blower protection laws
  • Carly’s Law to protect children from online predators
  • Advocating and securing for an extra $4.9 billion for education funding over ten years
  • Justice for nuclear test veterans to finally obtain gold card benefits for medical treatment
  • $6.1 million for community radio
  • Security of payment reforms in the building and construction industry
  • $60 million media reform package to help small and regional publishers, including a 200-strong cadetship program and scholarships
  • Sweeping changes to Government procurement rules

 Media:

(26 Feb 2013) CARLY’S LAW INTRODUCED TO PARLIAMENT TODAY

(3 Mar 2014) SENATE COMMITTEE TO CONSIDER CARLY’S LAW

(28 Jun 2016) RENEWED PUSH FOR CARLY’S LAW

(29 Nov 2016) Building and Construction Industry (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2013 *Submitted Amendments

(30 Nov 2016) Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Bill 2013

(30 Nov 2016) Inquiry: Whistleblower protections in the corporate, public and not-for-profit sectors

(15 Feb 2017) CFMEU'S PACK OF LIES

(23 Feb 2017) TIME TO BLOW THE WHISTLE

(27 Apr 2017) 1. GAS CRISIS 2. WHISTLEBLOWER REVELATIONS 3. SUBMARINES

(7 May 2017) FINALLY, SOME JUSTICE FOR AUSTRALIA'S NUCLEAR TEST VETERANS

(2 Jun 2017) CARLY’S LAW – TO PROTECT CHILDREN AGAINST ONLINE PREDATORS – A STEP CLOSER 

(14 Sep 2017) MEDIA REFORM MEASURES NEGOTIATED BY NXT

 

Health

  • Reforms to medical prostheses so that patients would not incur upfront out-of-pocket expenses, of particular help to breast cancer survivors
  • Securing a $68 million payment for the Proton Therapy Centre in SA-the first of its type in the southern hemisphere

Media:

(31 May 2012) Inquiry - The role of the Therapeutic Goods Administration regarding medical devices, particularly Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) breast implants

(29 Nov 2016) Select Committee into Funding for Research into Cancers with Low Survival Rates (Stirling Griff was the NXT representative) Stirling Griff’s cancer survival campaign/proton therapy funding

(29 Mar 2017) NXT moves for Senate inquiry to tackle sky-rocketing private health costs 

 

Port Augusta Solar Thermal Project

Last year (2017), I negotiated a $100 million concessional equity loan with the federal government to help facilitate the $650 million SolarReserve Aurora Project based near Port Augusta. This project will provide dispatchable – reliable – renewable energy for SA, and the power purchasing agreement at $78nw/h will help reduce electricity prices in SA whilst enhancing reliability of the network.

Media:

(1 Apr 2017) SUMMARY OF MEDIA CONFERENCE AT AINSLIE IGA (ACT) ON TAX CUTS, POWER PRICES & SOLAR THERMAL PLANT AT PORT AUGUSTA 

 

Predatory Gambling

Critics from the Liberal and Labor parties say I haven’t been able to do enough on gambling reform – particularly on pokies. The hypocrisy of such statements is breathtaking, because it has been the major parties that have thwarted, at every turn, the reforms that the community wants on gambling.

My push for $1 bets, phasing out pokies from pubs and clubs, getting rid of ATMs from gaming venues, and even a referendum to phase out pokies, have all been thwarted by the major parties in both the SA and Federal Parliaments.

But, despite the vehement campaign against reform, fuelled by big pokies operators and their representative associations, there has been some progress, including a culling of machines in the early 2000s (approximately 2000 machines were taken out of the system), blocking moves to introduce note acceptors into pokies (which would make the machines much more addictive), pushing for additional rehab funding, and having a watchdog role and advocacy service for victims, have all helped in some way to reduce the impact of the damage.

But a lot more still needs to be done, here’s the SA-BEST Gambling Reform Policy. It also includes measures to tackle online gambling where, at a Federal level, my colleagues and I were successful in banning credit betting recently.

Predatory gambling reform will always be a key issue for me – it’s a litmus test of good government. If a government is prepared to balance its books off the backs of the vulnerable and the addicted, then it has lost sight of what’s really important.

Media:

(8 Dec 2011) Inquiry - Interactive and online gambling and gambling advertising Interactive Gambling and Broadcasting Amendment (Online Transactions and Other Measures) Bill 2011

(24 Nov 2015) Interactive Gambling Amendment (Sports Betting Reform) Bill 2015 (Private Bill)

(1 Sep 2016) Inquiry Interactive Gambling Amendment (Sports Betting Reform) Bill 2015

(20 Mar 2017) Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 *Skye Kakoschke-Moore and I suggested amendments

(21 Mar 2017) GOVERNMENT ON A LOSING STREAK BY FAILING TO SUPPORT ONLINE GAMBLING REFORM

 

Procurement

  • As part of negotiations over the ABCC in late 2016, the government agrees to significant changes to the Commonwealth procurement rules so that of the $60billion spent each year by the Commonwealth in procuring goods and services, decisions had to consider compliance with Australian standards, environmental and employment laws, and the economic impact of buying local.
  • Those changes even surprised Labor Industry Spokesperson, Senator Kim Carr, at the time
  • In addition to these reforms, I also chaired an Inquiry into Procurement rules and the details of the Inquiry can be found here:
  • At a South Australian level, SA-BEST wants to ensure procurement rules maximise local industry and jobs participation

Media:

(25 Jun 2014) Inquiry into Future of Australia's naval shipbuilding industry (Rex Patrick and I participated)

(17 Jul 2014) Inquiry - Commonwealth procurement procedures (As a Participating Member)

(7 Feb 2017) STEELY RESOLVE NEEDED TO SAVE THOUSANDS OF JOBS

(1 Jun 2017) Inquiry - Buying into our Future (Something I Chaired)

(21 Jun 2017) SENATE INQUIRY INTO NAVAL SHIPBUILDING LAST NIGHT REVEALS: SUBS DOUBLE WHAMMY

 

Proton Therapy Centre

Securing $68 million in funding for the first Proton Therapy Centre, to be located in Adelaide at the new SA Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) II, will not only save lives, it will be transformative in medical treatment and research in SA. It will be the first Proton Therapy Centre in the southern hemisphere, will save Australian lives, and those of our neighbours in the region.

Media:

 (29 Nov 2016) Select Committee into Funding for Research into Cancers with Low Survival Rates (Stirling Griff was the NXT representative) Stirling Griff’s cancer survival campaign/proton therapy funding

 

Nuclear Test Veterans

It has been a blight of successive government since the 1950s that nuclear test veterans, at Maralinga and Monte Bello Islands, together with local communities (particularly Indigenous Australians), were not properly recognised for the health conditions they suffered as a result of exposure to the nuclear blasts and fallout.

In the 2017 budget, the federal government, as a direct result of negotiations with me and my team, agreed to fund the medical expenses of those exposed to the tests - a package of $100 million.

Media:

(7 May 2017) FINALLY, SOME JUSTICE FOR AUSTRALIA'S NUCLEAR TEST VETERANS

 

Roads 

  • $40 million in additional regional road funding for SA

Media:

(9 May 2017) Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2017-2018

(9 May 2017) Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 2017-2018

(9 May 2017) Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 1) 2017-2018

 

Water

In February 2009, during the 'Millennium Drought, secured almost $1billion in funding for the Murray Darling Basin and other water projects at the height of the drought was a significant accomplishment. It included $500 million for water buybacks, $200 million for river communities, and $200 million for stormwater harvesting, as well as improving packages for struggling irrigators.

Since then, I've participated in and instigated inquiries into the environmental and economic health of the Murray Darling Basin.

The allegations of water theft and rorting of the Basin Plan upstream are very serious, and I support the SA Government instigated Royal Commission, but ultimately this should be a Federal Royal Commission with adequate jurisdictional powers to get to the truth of what is happening.

Media:

(26 Oct 2010) MURRAY SAFEGUARDS MUST BE WATERTIGHT

(16 March 2015) Inquiry into stormwater resources in Australia (Something I instigated)

(26 Aug 2015) GLASS HALF EMPTY WITH NO NATIONAL STORMWATER POLICY

(17 March 2016) Inquiry - Refreshing the Plan (As a participating member)

(2 Mar 2018) Watergate: Murray River Scandal Deepens


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