Sharkie attack

Last month Rebekha Sharkie, the Nick Xenophon Team candidate for the Federal electorate of Mayo, was invited to give a speech at a meeting of the Food Producers and Landowners Action Group (FLAG), whose members hail from the Hills and Fleurieu.
According to her detractors, there was nothing offensive about her speech.
The problem was accepting an invitation from a group they have described as an extreme “fringe nationalist” organisation and a fan base for controversial political figure Pauline Hanson, the leader of One Nation and a regular guest speaker at FLAG functions.
Appearing to be overly supportive of FLAG leader Peter Manuel and appreciative of a warm reception were also her crimes because her visit was secretly recorded and became the subject of an article in The Australian.
Ms Sharkie was accused of “courting the Pauline Hanson” vote in a media release issued by SA Liberal heavyweight, Senator Simon Birmingham.
Labor and the Greens didn’t miss the opportunity to stick the boot in as well.
It begs the question. What is wrong with courting the vote of people who have different views on some issues.
If you’re a first time candidate of a new political party it’s in your best interest to knock on every door and personally reach out to as many people as possible.
Your message has no chance to resonate with the broader community if you only ever speak to a set of people with liked-minded views.
Of course there is a danger of tweaking the message to suit the audience, which seems to be one of the allegations levelled at Ms Sharkie, and the Xenophon Team in general.
Political opponents talk about a “personality cult” and a Party of potential loose cannons, and hint at a lack of clarity about the Party’s policy platform.
But Nick Xenophon is not Clive Palmer.
His brand is backed by two decades of sound performance and voters like what they see.
So perhaps that is the nub of the “smear campaign” against Ms Sharkie.
Voters across SA, including those in the safe seat of Mayo, are possibly looking at the Xenophon Team with genuine interest and the horses have been spooked.

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