Northern Territory notes

With five more days to go:

• Nigel Adlam of the Northern Territory News wrote on Saturday that Labor’s Chris Natt faces a tough fight to hold Drysdale, but should be helped by Labor’s promise to build a water park and sports complex in Palmerston; tips the CLP’s Kezia Purich to gain Goyder from Labor’s Ted Warren; declares himself surprised that the bookies have Labor’s James Burke down to retain Brennan; says the CLP should have no trouble reclaiming Braitling with the retirement of independent Loraine Braham; and ultimately tips a result of Labor 14 and CLP 10 with independent Gerry Wood retaining Nelson.

Fong Lim CLP candidate and former Solomon MP David Tollner was seen to confirm his lack of interest in serving under Terry Mills’ leadership last week, when he talked over him to answer a journalist’s question regarding the party’s embarrassing failure to find candidates in Macdonnell and Arnhem. Former Darwin lord mayor Garry Lambert has given an “absolute undertaking” he won’t challenge Mills, but before not doing so he must win the outgoing Clare Martin’s seat of Fannie Bay. Lambert says he supports Mills’ leadership, “at the moment”. Jodeen Carney, member for the Alice Springs seat of Araluen and party leader until January, says “nothing’s ruled in, nothing’s ruled out”.

• The Radio National program The National Interest featured a lengthy item on the election on Friday, featuring interviews with Terry Mills, Loraine Braham and Treasurer Delia Lawrie. Transcripts from Friday’s action-packed episode of Stateline should also come online shortly.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

200 comments on “Northern Territory notes”

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  1. It also didn’t help that there was a story running that there could be a CLP leadership challenge after the election. What a stupid thing to do one week from an election, these guys are crazy.

    Wonder if Peter Murphy is their adviser – wouldn’t be surprised. He prefers to wave the anti-Labor flag in the Sunday Territorian but no gonads to go for pre-selection himself.

  2. ALP 20 (picking up Katherine)
    CLP 4 (losing Katherine but picking up Braitling)
    Ind 1 (Gerry, unfortunately, holding his own)

  3. On the subject of caves, I believe that they have been unfairly maligned for party political purposes on this blog.

    Caves are excellent.
    Individual caves have been lived in for much, much longer than any artificial cave constructions such as brick veneer.
    They have kept humans safe from the wind, rain and snow for tens of thousands of years.
    In really tough ice-sheet climate times they have been ideal retreats.
    They provided good places for burial of the dead, and for storage of food.
    In the desert caves were, and are (see coober pedy artificial caves), cool.
    They provide excellent gallery space for some of the world’s very best, ur, well, cave art.
    There have been some problems with caves. These include Cave Bears, Trolls, and Sabre-toothed Tigers wanting to share the cave space and cave hospitality, but caves plus fire sorted this problem out nicely.
    Caves, particularly caves part way up cliffs, were excellent defensive positions.
    Caves are designated as profound spiritual places by religions, hermits and the like.
    Caves are obviously a complex but neglected policy instrument. When the messiah has returned to his cave, the Opposition should have a good hard policy look at what role caves might play in mitigating CC.

  4. In regards to post 96 about Hawke saving the Franklin.
    This is indirectly true.
    Bob Brown and the rest of the Wilderness Society stirred up so much international condemnation that Federal Labor caved.
    Yes, they say they never give in to pressure but they did.

    And dont forget it was also the ALP that wanted the dam.
    Hawke looks good by making others in his own party overturn policy. No wonder the ALP has so many factions.

  5. Bludging pollster aka Steve

    Interesting questions and points with regards to Green preferencing and the ALP
    Anna Bligh has been talking to Koalas ”

    who ar they preferencing

  6. Yikes. That reminds me of an AFL game a few years ago, where the unbackable favourite lost (probably to Fremantle – doing the unthinkable since 1995 😉 ), and some mug lost a five or six figure heap of money. There must be easier ways of increasing your stash…

  7. Gary Bruce @ 111

    I wonder if the bet was laid after watching Terry Mills refuse to confirm that he would be the leader of the CLP after Saturday?

    Dave Tollner surrendered on Stateline on last Friday saying the CLP was aiming to win extra seats to be an effective opposition.

    Now the leader is saying – we are not going to win and I expect a challenge to my position after the election!

  8. 113 Grace – “I wonder if the bet was laid after watching Terry Mills refuse to confirm that he would be the leader of the CLP after Saturday?” That could be so.
    It sounds like the CLP are running a shocking campaign up there.

  9. It sounds like the CLP are running a shocking campaign up there.

    Going from bad to worse. They really have become a shambles since losing power. Makes the federal coalition look like an A-grade team.

  10. the Judge @ 119 do you have any idea of what the Greens mean by fighting CC using ‘feed in laws?’ (second diamond point in the link you provided). At first I thought it might be something about feeding the in-laws which did not make sense, but then I realized the stress must be on the first and third words, not the last two words.

    As for the rest of the press release, it is a reasonably clear about why the Greens won’t be preferencing anybody else this time around. Presumably they are keeping their powder dry so they can fire it off next time around, which seems to be a reasonable long term strategy for making sure their preferences are not taken for granted. It is doubly reasonable to hold preference fire if labour is going to romp it in because the prefs won’t be making any difference any way – ie you get to make your point without any real pain.

    Policy wise, the Greens appear to like public servants, the service industry, service industry clients and anything that might stop CC except for anything to do with uranium. They don’t like Harbour industrialisation, parties being obssessed about locking up lawbreakers, and uranium mining and putting uranium in a dump.

  11. further more as to preferences,
    The Greens in NSW don’t get told by head office how to preference.
    each local group decide how to preference, giving members hands on power to make a difference.

  12. the judge @122
    thank you. on the NSW Greens, that is very democratic, but I suspect that the rigid party-wide discipline of the old DLP might have been more effective. On the other hand, I suppose that there was never much doubt about where the DLP’s preferences were going to go.

  13. Boerwar
    “a reasonable long term strategy for making sure their preferences are not taken for granted”

    Unfortunately thats th ‘spin’ given by th Party Boerwar One Politcal consequensae is for next three whole years , th greens will be totally irrlevant regarding Parliamnet , Labor will govern uninfluenced by anyone including Greens , not clever politcs Now given Labor’s ascendancy a repeat following electon and another 3 years of Greens irrelevance !

    Reasons given by Greens Party for no preferencng are paultry BUT instead had Labor proposed to either support th Uranium dump or support development/Daly river or claimed a serous and i mean credible policy dispute in preferense negotiations , then Greens Party could hav used those reasons , improved there credibelity now , and in 3 years time reminded voters of those rasons (and oerhaps increased its vote) , again not clever politcs Why not write to your Paarty and advise them that zero leveraging your prefs leaves Greens neither Policy credibility (‘indifferent to CLP geting your prefs) nor policy influencing Labor

  14. the Judge @ 124

    LOL. I had better come out of the closet. I once assisted in giving out DLP how-to-vote cards. That is, my old man gave them out, it was a small rural booth, and I spent the day in the booth to keep him company. I enjoyed it tremendously. There was a Communist Party candidate in the electorate and I recall that it was a booth with one of the very high voting percentages for the Communist Party. DLPer Dad and the Commo had a very entertaining day, sparring away in an amiable, civilised sort of way.
    If Dad was a representative DLPer, no foreign orders were needed. It came from the heart. He had fled Europe at a time of rising east/west tensions, partly out of fear of having to survive yet another bloody war having been very lucky to survive the last one. Unlike many of the intelligentsia of the day (and he was not a member of that group), Dad knew perfectly well that Stalin was a mass murderous fibber and knew perfectly well what the Russians were up to in Eastern Europe and elsewhere. Like many DLPers, he was less open to some other realities such what the Americans and the Australians were up to Vietnam.
    Lots of things led to the DLP demise, including the Vietnam war and changes in the labour party.

  15. Labor MP, Len Kiely (Sanderson), is in deep doo-doos. The female security guard who was crudely propositioned by a drunk Len awhile back has been personally letter boxing his electorate about the incident and his unfitness to be a member of parliament.

    A senior Labor party member in Alice Springs is criticising the party over the proposed uranium dump near the town.

    NT teachers going on strike for 4 hours tomorrow morning.

    Both sides claiming the others election promises can’t be paid for, ‘economically irresponsible’, ‘will blow the budget’,… you know the, usual stuff.

  16. Ron @ 125

    I wouldn’t join any party that would have me as a member. Seriously, I don’t belong to the Greens or any other party. Over a life time I have voted for most of the parties at one time or another. That said, I do think the Greens got it right faster on CC than any of the others, and I rate that as far and away the No 1 issue we are all facing.

    On green preferences, I think your arguments have merit and that it is a judgement call.

    I would question that Labour would take any notice of the Greens if the Greens did not have sufficient preferences to make a difference in an individual seat or in who gains government. Similarly, if the Greens hold the balance of power in the Senate, Labour (or Liberals) will deal because they have to.

    If that is so, then holding back on preferences from time to time would make sense for the Greens. If Labour came to think that it is the ‘natural’ recipient of Green preferences it would tend to take the Greens for granted. Bottom negotiating line in terms of program and statutory deals is that because the Greens are at the margins in terms of popular support, the Greens are only going to be able to influence outcomes at the margins. They might be important margins and have a significant impact in specific areas, but they won’t have large systemic impacts. In the negotiating sense, the Greens have to establish that they have coin and that they are willing to dispose of the coin to their best advantage. To do that, they have to avoid being predictable when it comes to allocating preferences. A related problematic issue for the Greens has been discussed extensively in this blog and that is the impact of deals on their credibility and their ‘soft’ power. I suspect this may be an even more important role for the greens than getting some marginal ‘real’ changes going as a result of a deal here and a deal there.

  17. Zombie Mao @128

    The woman was doing her job. The job was not high status. She stuck to her guns, which must have been very hard to do. He abused his position of power. If he can’t get that right, what can he get right? As usual in NT politics, grog was involved.

    He apologised, went to the back bench and after a short stint on the backbench was reincarnated as a minister. She has not taken kindly to this. Good on her.

    Buswell rightly got the chop for much the same reasons and I trust the voters of all genders will do the right thing by this chap as well.

  18. My delayed apologies to Grace for the accusation of lying. An honest mistake is a very different thing. Greensborough Growler’s attempts to fudge the differences is in another category.

    BTW, were I in the NT Greens I would probably have pushed for preferences to go to the ALP in at least some seats. My point is not that going open is the necessarily the best thing to do, but that it is legitimate.

    Can’t see it mattering much anyway – most of the seats the Greens are running in are pretty safe one way or another.

  19. Boerwar


    Just scrolled back and saw your thoughtfully reply , giving a diferent view
    Before repiing to our Post’s substanse ie preferencing , two asides you made
    Re your Dad’s DLP , his ‘cmmunist’ experiense in Europe history & philosphihys were probaly similar to many DLP voter at time Some reality driven FA changes by Labor probqbly brought most ‘home’ to Labor in 70’s Re CC , its an incorect asserion Greens hav made but ACTUAL dates of actions demolish there ‘spin’ CC was ‘owned’ by Labor , and was factualy regarded as important in 1991 As a rwsult Labor signed th IPPCC convention in 1992 In 1992 Austalian Geens effectively did not even exist (th WA Greens did , based on th German Greens ad like German greens were anti nuke/war/ unranium) Austrlalian geens did not even get to Fed parliament till 1996 , 5 years after Labors IPPCC convention signing , and on mainly an envorontment policy , hence there Greens name Dates kill th Greens spin on CC That CC was Labor teritory True in recent years BOTH ‘left’ party now hav reely highlighlighted CC , and great , but since 2006 Rudd has ‘taken’ CC again , due to Greens politcal treatment of CC

    Prerencing , envoronment is an area Greens hav ‘owned’ , rightly so , and suggest there clever use of prefs 9unlike what I’m saying NT greens have done) has influenced Labor envornmental policy , for th better , and i acknowledge that That liason started at Franklin river with Brown & Hawke , an has grown withGreens influencing Labor policy due to prefs Your view of “coinage” is a theoretical reason & persausiv However in practise , approx 70% of Greens will pref Labor anyway , as no one else to pref !! Labor know this is a fact and so does Bob Brown they both know th reason is this 70% actualy believe is a ‘left’ Party vs th Liberal conservatives and th gap is huge , otherwise a non pref policy would not deliver Labor 70% (given over 20% ar Lib voters who’ll always pref Libs) so th ‘spin’ by th rusted on Greeens , its a choise between beter of 2 evils or ‘old Parties has always been nonsense

    Where th prefs ar important to both Bob Brown & Kevin07 is th ‘leakage’ from Lavbor over about 70% , which direcrt preferencing zeros out , and that non leakage i th reel levarage , in some Electon cases (but not prsent NT one) Th queston is how to maximise it , with a ‘win’ ‘win’ for both Partys , or for Greens Party a ‘win’ at , least for dems That why think ‘coinage’ fails here in NT , as its been used in NT for no benefit both politcaly or for policy advantage Greens vs Labor I’m saying th ‘coinage’ works if you hav a legitimate policy diference , rathen than here th reverse is case , it deems Greens ar amivalent to CLP policy of having a unranium dump & hurting Daly river ‘Coinage’ is useful if applied Nationaly & in all States as a prefs policy solely based on politcs and a credible policy objecton (none in NT , reverse anti Greens credibility applies , so should hav pref Labor BUT say Yemma wants a non solar powerd desal for a Desal plant then thats when no prefs policy can have an impact , at least for Greens policy credibility , and sometimes politcaly as a particular electon/some seats will be close

    Because Greens hav a crazy economic model as there policy base , there badge is reely environment , CC , Water and nuclar power/anti unranium So I understand your point Boerwar , but think was wrong State elecyton to do it on and on non core Greens policys , and as th non prefs favor th CLP (and unranium dump & Dley river Devopment also foolisgly hypocritical or naieve

  20. dear ron/GG,

    sorry to upset you guys but the Greens are an independent party and can preference whoever they like.
    just like Labor can preference Family First and get Steve Fielding in the senate, where the headaches and real damage lasts for 8 years.

  21. Ron @ 135
    I accept your point on the CC history. I didn’t know it. I agree that leakage is a problem for the Greens in terms of gaining agreements with the majors. As for the NT, the Greens appear to have made a decision that involves short term versus long term trade offs. It is their judgement and their call to do so. If greens voters don’t like it they don’t have to vote for the greens. It would only be hypocritical if they were secretly trying to ensure that there was a radiation dump but in public saying the opposite. My view is that they don’t like the dump and they don’t like other things and have a long term view to maximise their influence to get the things they want. In some ways, if members of either or both of the major parties are either irritated or gratified by this approach, it might actually show that the greens strategy is working.

  22. Is there anyway from people from interstate to watch the election coverage?>
    Is anyone going to digitally tape the election?
    The ABC should show the Election Coverage nation wide on ABC2…

  23. My concern is that the Greens have not mentioned the nuclear dump at all in the press release the Judge posted for us or on their website. The sole focus is on the proposed Angela/Pamela uranium mine, 25Kms south of Alice Springs.

    I know from talk radio that the Greens think the mine is a vote changer, which makes me suspect that the decision not to preference either party, is actually attempt to attract disgruntled CLP voters in the notoriously conservative seat of Braitling.

    Whatever, I do think its cyncial of the Greens to refrain from mentioning the nuclear dump, which is a real point of difference between the CLP and ALP.

    The proposed nuclear dump would have a devastating effect on the Aboriginal Communities that live near the proposed sites.

  24. Grace @ 139 Am curious: Why do you think the dump would have a devastating effect on Aboriginal communities? How far do they live from the proposed sites?

  25. re the dump: isn’t the decision a federal one? In which case it would be federal Labor making the decision, and with the NT a territory there’d be no way to stop it either? So the NT ALP can have its cake and eat it to, I presume, by opposing the dump during the election while knowing what they say is irrelevant. Plus we do have a policy fudge with uranium with the ALP supporting its mining, at times discussing using it as a fuel, but not accepting responsibility for its use or waste. I realise that’s an internal policy compromise, as much for the factions as for the public, but its still a fudge. I would have thought all state ALP branches would equally be saying no to mining and no to the dump, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. And you can make a similar claim for coal mining in respect of its effect on communities, particularly where its linked to power production.

    WRT to effects of mining or dumps on communities, these should be acknowledged. The downstream impact of mining is well recorded, and of course you often have the situation of cultural heritage being destroyed. The explicit effect of the dump I am at this stage unsure, but I would assume that at the very least there’d be an exclusion zone (thus cutting people off from cultural sites), and the potential for leaks or accidents (thus impacting on those people living or travelling nearby). A separate issue is land rights for the dump site itself, which would need to be decided prior to the site actually coming into operation, so I’m sure that is a factor in any decision about placement. Coupled to that then is compensation and/or royalty issues (if this dump accepts waste for a fee then there would be a royalty for the use of the land). THEN we can get onto deciding environmental factors…

    Personally I don’t want either mine or dump, I have campaigned against both and will continue to do so. I am not privy to the rationale used by the NT Greens in their decision, but if the ALP, at a state or federal level, is still making the decision about uranium mining and dumping then I would suggest the action of not preferencing either party in the NT is aimed at the party at which ever level is making the decision.

  26. I think the NT Assembly is about Tollner’s level. He was seriously underqualified to be a federal MP, even when sober.

    Does Adam Giles have any chance of election? He seems to be a much smarter guy and may have leadership potential in the very shallow talent pool of NT politics.

  27. Boerwar

    Not far enough

    What they call the Harts Range site is actually land on Alcoota Station and in close proximity to the communities of Engawala, Mulga Bore and Angula. This Station was bought for the TO’s in 1993. It is still a very successful pastoral property. The Land Claim work has been completed and the TO’s are waiting (and waiting for years) for the Indigenous Affairs Minister to sign off on the claim so that it becomes Aboriginal Freehold.

    The area is chock-a-block full of sacred sites as well as a major fossil site of dinosaurs.

    East along the Plenty Highway (est 70kms) are the Communities of Atitjere (Harts Range), Irrelirre and Mt. Eaglebeak. North along the Sandover are the Utopia outstations (the nearest within 50K)

    The Hamilton Downs Site is located near the outstation in the ranges north of Alice Springs and the Ingkerrerke Outstations along the north road.

    Muckaty Station is 120 kms north of Tennant Creek and there is a community on the station. The Land Council were able to purchase the station for the TO’s because it had been badly degraded due to overstocking. The TO’s have worked for years with LandCare to repair the country and begin to run it as a sustainable station.

  28. Stewart J


    You are right it is the Federal Government that makes the decision and being a Territory they can over-ride any blocking legislation that a Territory Govt passed.

    Given all of that I still don’t think we should lay down and let the Federal Govt put its waste dump in the NT.

  29. Yes Giles will probably be elcted in Braitling. However to say that he is much smarter than Tollner does not give us an indication if he is smart compared to your average Territorian. I have been recieving mail from him consistently (I think he is very keen to get into parliament at some level after 3 or 4 failed attempts). My take on Giles is that although he is a Western NSW blackfella he is a true CLP’an. Running on nothing but law and order rubbish and with no long term view of how to address the critical racial divide in Alice Springs. Anyway I will bug him relentlessly when he gets in amd I do think that he will try to do a good job (inasmuch as that is possible within the Country Liberal framework).

    My main observation about the election campaign here in Alice Springs is the incredibly poor effort on behalf of the Labor party. They have put up poor candidates who don’t appear to give a toss, which only adds to the perception that Labor doesn’t care about Central Australia. And it is more than a perception, one senior Labor figure once said in relation to the voters in Alice Springs “well the c..nts don’t vote for us so why should we give them anything”.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up 14 ALP, 10 CLP and 1 independent which results in the people of Central Australia getting f;;ked over once again. Perhaps I need to move back to northern suburbs of Darwin…

  30. Adam in Canberra

    “Does Adam Giles have any chance of election?”

    Not sure. The Alice Springs town booths are notoriously conservative so it will either be won by the CLP (Giles) or the independent (Melky).

    Eli Melky is associated with a group called Advance Alice that seem to hold the view everything that is wrong with Alice Springs is equally the fault of the Indigenous inhabitants of Alice Springs, and the Government in Darwin. He stood for CLP pre-selection but was beaten by Adam Giles.

    Adam Giles stood against Warren Snowdon in November for Lingiari. He increased the CLP vote in the Alice Springs town booths but lost badly everywhere else, particularly in the Indigenous communities where booths went 95% to the ALP. He campaigned in the bush on stopping welfare to Aboriginal people – not very smart really.

    The ALP will increase its primary vote because of the inclusion of the Alice Springs town camps so the outcome will depend on Labor preferences.

  31. roger@145

    “And it is more than a perception, one senior Labor figure once said in relation to the voters in Alice Springs “well the c..nts don’t vote for us so why should we give them anything”

    Who was this senior Labor figure who said this? Can you post a reference for this?

  32. I would have said the vast majority of those 90% plus results in the booths in indigenous communities were primarily because of the howard/brough intervention rather than any shortcomings in giles style. He has a free reign this time to take what position he wants, so will be interesting to see how it pans out for him

  33. Who was this senior Labor figure who said this? Can you post a reference for this?

    Yes, I’d also like to see good evidence for that claim. I’m inclined to the view that if there were any it would have been all over the media by now, I mean, this is an election campaign.

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