Xenophon's assault on SA falls well short

Xenophon's assault on SA falls well short


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SA-BEST Leader Nick Xenophon is struggling to win a seat in the state parliament.

SA-BEST Leader Nick Xenophon is struggling to win a seat in the state parliament.

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A "bruised" Nick Xenophon has put his spectacular failure to claim any seats in the South Australian lower house on election night down to the influence of the pokies lobby.

Mr Xenophon had hoped to win the balance of power in the state and act as a government "watchdog".

His supporters gathered at Adelaide's Palace Nova Cinema on Saturday night to watch the count, but the mood turned sombre as it became clear the party's ambitious goal would fall flat.

The former senator also looks to have been defeated in his campaign to win the seat of Hartley, but said the seat is "lineball" and has held off on conceding.

Asked what had gone wrong, Mr Xenophon said he began his campaign too late and spread himself too thin across the 36 seats SA-BEST contested.

"In the end, negativity won, big money won, the pokies lobby got the best of us this time around but it's not over and I'm not giving up," he said.

The Australian Hotels Association headed an expensive campaign against Mr Xenophon based on the claim his pokies policy would cost the industry jobs.

Mr Xenophon would not rule out legal action against the group and said he also intended to pursue proceedings against incoming Liberal premier Steven Marshall over claims SA-BEST had done a deal with Labor.

Across the state, SA-BEST has polled only about 14 per cent of primary votes, but Mr Xenophon said his candidates are still a chance in the seats of Finniss and Heysen.

"We've come second in a number of seats, close in a few and not giving up at least a couple of lower house seats," he said

"We are here to shake up the great two-party duopoly, whether we do that remains to be seen."

Despite acknowledging his party would win two lower house seats in the best-case scenario, Mr Xenophon told supporters the results were a "mixed bag".

On Saturday night, SA-BEST looked to have claimed two seats in the state's upper house.

"SA-BEST will have a presence in the South Australian parliament and that's a good thing for democracy in this state," Mr Xenophon said.

Australian Associated Press

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