SOUTH Australia's rural representation in the Senate hangs in the balance with a plethora of minor party seats and preference deals creating political mayhem.
Independent Senator for SA Nick Xenophon says it is unlikely that a minority parliament would be formed again and he needed every vote, particularly from country SA, to help retain a regional voice for the state.
"I think there is a chance there will be a balance of power situation and I'm worried that we've been slipping behind in terms of a whole range of issues, and liable to be treated as a poor cousin of the eastern states," he said.
"This is about the Coles and Woolworths duopoly, regional road funding, food labelling, the creation of a rural development bank for farmers to create an alternative funding mechanism.
"They're even talking about northern Australia having special status, but we should be looking at regional SA having special status, at the very least, because we're lagging behind."
Because of preferences among the major and minor parties and independents, so-called 'micro party' candidates – such as the No Carbon Tax Climate Sceptics Party's Leon Ashby, Mount Gambier – have a chance at a Senate seat.
Mr Ashby says he will be targeting Natural Resource Management boards and their Water Allocation Plans, if he wins a seat, and has already been talking with colleagues about the processes of removing – among other things – the organisation's plans for low-flow bypasses on dams.
"All those things are creating costs for farmers but no benefits, taking away their water allocations, reducing them, and causing more problems for their vegetation," he said.
His comments were made before a joint state and federal government announcement on Monday that an agreement had been signed to strengthen the bond between SA's agriculture sector and NRM systems.
Agriculture Minister Gail Gago said it was vital that the sector had a "strong working relationship" with the NRM and wanted to improve the system's administration and interaction with farmers, and fund a part-time liaison officer.
But Mr Ashby says money allocated to NRM was misdirected.
"In the past, there's been things such as Landcare getting a bucket of money, but what it does is create a bunch of advisors, leaving a minimal amount of money on the ground for farmers," he said.
"That sort of process is the wrong way around.
"We want to see things get towards production, efficiency that helps the landholder make a profit, and still looks after the environment ... and I think we could drag the Liberal Party there."
Mr Ashby is listed high on a number of preference deals with various parties and independents – higher than Sen Xenophon's running mate Stirling Griff on the Australian Greens Senate ballot paper.
Sen Xenophon has listed Sen Hanson-Young below the major parties on a split ticket that favours both majors, independents and minor parties above the Greens – at 37th place on one ticket and below Labor and the independents at 10th place on his second ticket.
Sen Hanson-Young says Mr Xenophon's choice to preference Liberal above the Greens means he is assisting the major party to take control of the Senate by denying preferences to non-major party candidates in SA.
* Full report in Stock Journal, September 5 issue, 2013.