Nick Xenophon’s two new Senate colleagues, Stirling Griff and Skye Kakoschke-Moore, are no strangers to the political process, having both worked with Xenophon behind the scenes.
In a joint interview, they tell Michelle Grattan about their contrasting experiences in becoming politicians. Kakoschke-Moore says she has had the benefit of being around Xenophon for nearly six years. “So I understand the way he operates,” she says.
Working as a Xenophon adviser, she learnt the ropes of the Senate. “It is so rule-driven and so procedure-driven that I have a great deal of sympathy for people coming into this who have had no exposure at all to the inner workings of Senate procedure.”
Stirling Griff, on the other hand, has had a “huge learning curve”.
“I’m following behind Skye like she’s the mother hen and I imagine I’ll be doing that really for another few more weeks,” he says.
With the government’s industrial relations legislation before the parliament, the Nick Xenophon Team is looking for some amendments.
“Particularly in relation to the building code and requiring building projects, to the greatest extent possible, to use Australian goods and services. So we’ll be looking at the bills closely but we’ll also be keeping an open mind to amendments,” Kakoschke-Moore says.
The pair are dismissive of any move by senator David Leyonhjelm to push for concessions on gun laws in exchange for passage of the industrial relations bills.
“They’re not related and we don’t want to play those games,” Griff says.
Authors: Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra