Independent senator Nick Xenophon and government frontbencher Christopher Pyne are at loggerheads over election posters, with Pyne accusing members of Xenophon's party of pinching his corflutes.
The popularity of the senator and his Nick Xenophon Team in South Australia is giving the major parties real concern, with predictions the NXT could pick up at least three Senate seats and maybe even a House of Representatives seat at the July 2 election.
Some polls have NXT outstripping the Labor Party and approaching the Liberals on on primary votes, with similar results when SA voters were polled about their state election.
— GhostWhoVotes (@GhostWhoVotes) May 30, 2016
On Twitter on Thursday, Pyne -- the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, and MP for the South Australian seat of Sturt -- claimed NXT volunteers had been seen replacing his posters with their own, and that hundreds of his election corflutes had gone missing.
Fellow South Australian Liberal MP Jamie Briggs also claimed some of his posters had disappeared.
@cpyne we estimate about 200 gone in Mayo also— Jamie Briggs (@BriggsJamie) June 1, 2016
Xenophon hit back soon after, telling Pyne to "chill".
Speaking to The Huffington Post Australia, Xenophon called Pyne's allegations "absurd".
"If he has evidence, go to the police. My volunteers are on strict instructions to do the right thing and be respectful of other candidates. Maybe Chris needs to realise there are many people in the electorate that don't like him or seeing his face on poles. It sounds like a desperate allegation by a desperate man," Xenophon said.
Countering Briggs' claims, Xenophon said 150 NXT posters had also disappeared in the Mayo electorate.
"Tearing down posters is completely wrong and I condemn it, but I don't engage in the petty finger-pointing Chris Pyne is engaging in," he told HuffPost Australia.
When asked if he thought other parties were worried about the NXT's growing vote, Xenophon replied "of course they are, but they should be worried about the fact they're not listening to people".
Xenophon directed us to a video on his Facebook page, where Pyne said in a radio interview yesterday "if people don't want to vote Liberal, I will be advocating they vote Labor".
It is not the first time Xenophon and Pyne have clashed over election posters. Xenophon said Pyne was not being "fair" after accusing him of putting up his posters too early.
Suggest a correction
Premature erection = cheating. Rules say posters cant go up till 6pm on day writs issued. Play fair! pic.twitter.com/0k9EDu4Yae— Nick Xenophon (@Nick_Xenophon) May 7, 2016