29 March 2016
by Phillip Coorey

Nick Xenophon begs Tony Abbott to campaign in SA

Nick Xenophon has implored Tony Abbott to campaign in marginal seats in South Australia, believing it will bolster the Independent Senator's chances of winning seats from the Liberal Party in his home state.

Senator Xenophon, who has formed a party, the Nick Xenophon Team, invited Mr Abbott to SA on Monday after the former prime minister said on the weekend he would campaign in Liberal marginal seats when invited to do so, independent of what Prime Minster Malcolm Turnbull was doing as part of the official election campaign.

"My main focus will be campaigning in (his seat of) Warringah but I will also support the election of the Turnbull government by campaigning with my colleagues in marginal seats where I'm asked to do so," he said. Mr Abbott has reportedly been asked by some colleagues to visit their seats.

Abbott needs to 'keep his head down'
Senator Xenophon said the Abbott government caused the Liberals great damage in SA with its broken promise on submarines and its treatment of the car industry. He believed a visit by Mr Abbott would help the NXT win Liberal seats it is targeting in that state, such as Mayo.

Mr Abbott is stepping up his activity ahead of the election. Last week, on the same day Mr Turnbull threatened the Senate to pass industrial relations legislation or face a July 2, double dissolution election, Mr Abbott chimed in to claim the Turnbull government would be running on his record. He has written another article for conservative magazine Quadrant, in which he defends his embrace of the Sri Lankan regime so he could fulfil his domestic policy aim of "stopping the boats".

Mr Abbott defended his call not to join the "human rights lobby against the tough but probably unavoidable actions taken to end one of the world's most vicious civil wars".

On Monday, former Howard government minister Peter Reith said Mr Abbott needed to pull his head in.

"He's doing himself a disservice and he's doing a disservice to the country," he told Sky News. "He needs to keep his head down for his own sake otherwise he will be trashing his own reputation."