EARLY election results have returned Nick Xenophon to the Senate with an avalanche of primary votes, indicating that he received strong support from rural SA.
He increased his 2007 winning margin from 14.8 per cent to 25.73pc with only a small portion of preferences accounted for and about 25pc of ballot papers still to be counted (at time of publication).
Federal sitting members in rural electorates retained their seats in Mayo (Jamie Briggs Liberal), Grey (Rowan Ramsey, Liberal), Barker (Tony Pasin, Liberal) and Wakefield (Nick Champion, Labor), with heavy negative swings against Labor, which fell to as low as -9.67pc in Barker – the biggest swing in the state – and averaged about -4.5pc statewide.
Sen Xenophon is entitled to an allocation of 1.8 seats, falling just short of giving his running mate Stirling Griff a seat.
Significantly, the result showed that he accrued more votes than the entire Labor Party Senate team in SA, which polled just 22.59pc in early counting, giving it a 1.58-seat allocation to keep Sen Penny Wong in power with the expected loss of Sen Don Farrell when the new lineup enters parliament on July 1 next year.
Nationals candidate James Stacey was disappointed not to win a seat after receiving 0.29pc of the vote. He partly attributes his failure to Sen Xenophon's popularity in the rural community.
"I think he's taken a lot of votes in the city and country, and that has had a big impact on everyone," he said.
"I know Nick and Family First both talk a lot about rural issues, and the Liberal Party as well.
"It's not sour grapes at not having done terribly well, but I just hope that the people who have been put into the Senate with aspirations of representing rural people actually follow through with that."
Family First candidate Bob Day is expected to pull through on preference calculations when they are finalised in about 10 days, despite having only won 3.73pc of the vote, or 0.26 Senate seats.
The same applies to Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young, who received 7.03pc or an 0.49 seat allocation. But the party is expected to increase its number of senators nationally from nine to 10 and hold its sole House of Representatives seat through Andrew Bandt in Melbourne.
A spokesperson for Ms Hanson-Young said the Greens had achieved a fantastic result by retaining all their seats despite a "conservative tide coming in across the country".
"There was a negative swing from our 2010 high, but we have increased on the first preference vote when Sarah was elected into the Senate in 2007.
"Basically, we're going from strength-to-strength and that shows we're here for the long term after a great campaign."
Sen Xenophon accused the Greens of waging a "nasty and dirty" campaign against him to get re-elected, publicly claiming he favoured the Liberals on preferences because he fielded a split ticket that favoured Labor and Liberal evenly.
"And the Labor Party is also likely to get a second Liberal senator elected because they preferenced him above my running mate.
"It seems both bizarre and spiteful on their part."
* Full report in Stock Journal, September 12 issue, 2013.