TheAge.au ~ Senator Nick Xenophon wants an inquiry into the Church of Scientology and, based on his record, he just may get it.
THERE are a couple of things to know about Nick Xenophon. The first is that the independent senator from Adelaide has a genius for publicity. He's a hustler par excellence. The second is he's rationing his tabloid impulses in Canberra. Xenophon's record to date suggests he's opting for strategy rather than sensation; picking his political fights, not going at everything like a bull at a gate.
But when he goes, he goes with his plaintiff lawyer's bastardry. He held the Rudd Government's $42 billion stimulus package to ransom until he delivered the maximum benefit for his constituents - the parched and peeved irrigators of South Australia who warmed to his iconoclastic schtick, and put him there.
Xenophon's controversial outing this week on Scientology underscores how the independent from Adelaide is honing his modus operandi in the capital - using his considerable talents for self-promotion not as a thing in itself but as a tool to get things done. With no party structure to support him, and with Senate balance of power being a variable tool (given the mercurial Steve Fielding and the chaotically bombastic Barnaby Joyce), the only predictable power lies in changing the conversation.
Fair or unfair, right or wrong - and let's be very clear from the outset that the church says he's dead wrong - Xenophon's comments on Scientology and its alleged practices weren't a gratuitous brain explosion under the cloak of privilege. There was a sharp point.
His aim is to achieve a parliamentary inquiry. Next week the Senate, in its collective wisdom, will decide whether or not he gets it. Kevin Rudd has not been definitive yet but he's given the Xenophon allegations oxygen - significant in a week where the Prime Minister seems to have lost the capacity to answer questions. The Coalition is less keen. Whatever the result, it's clear Xenophon's latest crusade won't end there. ''On this I'm going to be a persistent bastard,'' he told me cheerfully.
...And Enter Anonymous
Like Scientology, Anonymous knows no borders. Over at WWP, they've wasted no time in setting up global rally points to show support to Senator Xenophon's endeavor.
Carmel Underwood with other Aussies and Sen. Xenophon are asking if everyone could write a petition and get some signatures at the Global Rally on Sunday. It is urgent because there will be a vote on MONDAY in Parliament on investigating the cult.And if you can't get to a local rally, they also have a international online petition you can sign.