Northern Territory election minus one day

No polling to report, but some general musings on the state of play ahead of tomorrow’s count for the Northern Territory election.

Tomorrow is the big day of the Northern Territory election, which these days has to be regarded as the day when the votes are counted rather than cast. The campaign has been largely free of incident — certainly it’s been free of opinion polls, to which the closest approximations are betting odds (Labor at $1.35, CLP at $4, Territory Alliance at $8.50) and Burt the psychic crocodile (CLP to win). Today’s Northern Territory News editorial endorses the CLP in a roundabout sort of a way, but whatever extent that might have mattered has diminished almost to zero given that 47% of enrolled voters have already voted, and barely more than a quarter can be expected to do so tomorrow.

One point of interest is what will happen in the event of a hung parliament, which no Northern Territory election has yet produced, but is a substantial possibility tomorrow. The Territory Alliance goes into the election with three MPs, including two who started their careers with the CLP and one with Labor. It presumably says something that they are directing preferences to the CLP ahead of Labor in all but two seats, although players in their position have certainly surprised before.

Two independent incumbents are seeking re-election: Yingiya Guyula in Mulka (formerly Nhulunbuy) and Kezia Purick in Goyder, whose seats would be expected to be won by Labor and the CLP respectively in normal circumstances. It might be thought that Labor had won Purick over when they kept her on as Speaker after the 2016 election, but that calculus may have changed when she resigned after adverse findings against her by ICAC in June — as may her chances of defending the seat. Another independent, Gerry Wood, is retiring as member for Nelson, but he has endorsed a new independent, Beverley Ratahi, whose chances are rated very highly.

My trusty election guide remains in action here, and I will have a paywalled piece on the election in Crikey later today. I hope to have a live results facility tomorrow, but I’ll be very pleasantly surprised if it operates at 100% efficiency. This is a distinctly challenging election to be doing this with, given the huge shift from election day to pre-poll voting, large number of seats that will not have straightforward Labor-versus-CLP counts easily comparable with equivalent counts from last time, the emergence of a substantial new party on the scene, and a move from optional to compulsory preferential voting.

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.

23 comments on “Northern Territory election minus one day”

  1. This is my first election up here, and maybe I am completely missing something, but I am not picking up any mood that suggests that this is a change of government election, either from my five stints on pre poll or from speaking to people knocking on doors. Both seem positive for the government. On the doors, by far the number one issue has been the virus and keeping it out. Now if you had asked me when I visited Darwin back in December 2018, I would have said that the baseball bats were out and at the ready. But since moving up here in late March, just as the impact of COVID was becoming clearer, it is a very different mood here.

  2. I might also ad that my wife is on pre poll this morning and reports it has been busy. Given that as William mentions 47 percent of voters have already voted, and that turn out up here tends to be around 75 percent, I suspect that by the end of the day around 80 percent of those who will vote will have voted before tomorrow.

  3. My last round of predictions: (It’s all in good fun and I don’t
    claim to know this is accurate. But I look forward to other
    predictions from posters and to see how election night unfolds πŸ™‚
    I’ve forced myself to pick a result on my TOSS UPS)

    Arafura – Labor Retain
    Araluen – Territory Alliance Retain
    Arnhem – Labor Retain
    Barkly – Labor Retain
    Blain – Territory Alliance Retain
    Braitling – CLP GAIN
    Brennan – CLP GAIN
    Casuarina – Labor Retain
    Daly – CLP Retain
    Drysdale – Labor Retain
    Fannie Bay – Labor Retain
    Fong Lim – Territory Alliance Retain
    Goyder – Independent Retain
    Gwoja – Labor Retain
    Johnston – Labor Retain
    Karama – Labor Retain
    Katherine – CLP GAIN
    Mulka – Independent Retain
    Namatjira – CLP GAIN
    Nelson – Independent Retain
    Nightcliff – Labor Retain
    Port Darwin – Labor Retain
    Sanderson – Labor Retain
    Spillett – CLP Retain
    Wanguri – Labor Retain

    ALP: 14
    CLP: 6
    TA: 3
    IND: 3

    ALP: 10-16
    CLP: 2-9
    TA: 2-4
    IND: 0-5
    (** I know 0 IND is highly improbable)

    I’ve done a quick summary below of each seat as to background
    information why I chose a certain way. I tried not to repeat
    much of what I’ve already written across the posts, but spent way
    much more time than I wanted.

    Arafura: Lawrence Costa (ALP) has keep his nose clean while the CLP
    candidate has caused some controversy. Same IND as 2016 but with
    little impact and don’t expect TA to be big here. ALP Retain.

    Araluen: Robyn Lambley (TA) has a high profile as being former
    deputy CM and held the electorate since 2010 by-election. Proven
    in 2016 that she can hold her seat without CLP, in a normally
    strong CLP area. Territory Alliance Retain.

    Arnhem: Selena Uibo (ALP) was elected in 2016 facing CLP and
    IND in former MLA Larisa Lee. That split wont be a factor this
    time around. No TA, a lower profile CLP candidate and strong
    historical Labor seat, despite a 4% cut in marin from the
    redistriution, don’t expect a change. ALP Retain.

    Barkly: No sitting member, with Gerry McCarthy (ALP) retiring.
    This is one of 4 seats with the sitting member retiring and one
    of 5 ‘open’ seats. CLP and ALP candidates both from Barkly
    Regional Council, with the CLP candidate being mayor until
    recently, resigning to contest the election. The redistribution
    helped the Labor margin slightly here. With a strong contest
    from CLP, I expect a swing against Labor, but not enough
    to trouble it in this seat. ALP Retain. (Changed from TOSS UP)

    Blain: Terry Mills (TA) being very high profile and has held
    this seat for 19 out of 23 years of it’s existence. The ALP
    and CLP candidates he face are lower profile compared to when
    he squeaked home in 2016 vs ALP’s Damian Hale (former Fed MP).
    Territory Alliance Retain.

    Braitling: What an absolute dog’s breakfast. Dale Wakefield (ALP)
    has held this seat since 2016, when she sensationaly beat the
    former CM Adam Giles in his own seat, making it an ALP seat
    for the first time ever after a 33 year stint with the CLP.
    I originally thought a 4 way-contest between CLP, ALP, TA and
    IND (Former Labor MLA). Considering IND MLA’s base was not
    really here, I don’t expect to poll too highly. TA have the
    effect of Lambley next door, but again don’t expect to poll
    too high despite having the same name as the ALP candidate,
    a case of two Dale’s. Dale has been a minister in the
    government so has built up a profile, but in a traditional
    CLP seat and a view ALP is very Darwin centric, I’m going
    to put my hat out for… CLP GAIN. (Changed from TOSS UP)
    [Again I’m forcing myself to pick a result from Toss-up,
    but really this could go anywhere so I can’t wait to see
    those results trickle in!]

    Brennan: An exciting kettle of fish just like Braitling.
    Tony Sievers (ALP) holds this seat after winning in 2016.
    ALP have won this seat twice in an otherwise CLP stronghold.
    So let’s go with process of elimination. Yes Brennan is
    next door to Terry Mills, but don’t think TA will poll
    that high. This election feels like a battle between CLP
    and ALP in the last few days and even with a high pre-poll,
    I don’t expect Peter Chandler (IND-former MLA defeated for
    this seat at 2016) to get as high a vote, more a split in
    the CLP vote. This could lead to saving ALP, but, putting
    my hat out there, really think it’s back to… CLP GAIN.
    (Changed from TOSS UP)

    Casuarina: Lauren Moss (ALP) is in a seat held by Labor
    since 2001 and has been held despite swings towards CLP
    in 2008, 2012 and 2014 By-election. GRNs to take a little
    of ALP votes, TA to take a little off CLP, but really,
    this electorate I see no change. ALP Retain.

    Daly: No sitting member, Gary Higgins (CLP) retiring.
    Although on a 1.7% redistributed margin, and being held
    by ALP at 2005 high tide election (surprisingly held
    in 2008), I really don’t see this as anything other
    than staying with CLP. 2016 was high tide and despite
    loss of sitting member vote, don’t expect that to impact,
    even if the ALP candidate is the same as 2016. CLP Retain.

    For a laugh… check out the ABC Website page for Daly and
    the picture of independent Mick. Something very NT about
    that photo…

    Drydale: Eva Lawler (ALP) winning at 2016 Lia’s old seat
    as she moved to Spillett. CLP have chosen a good candidate
    here and will definitely give Eva a run for her money.
    ALP won the seat at the 2005 landslide election and lost it
    straight after. Palmerston normally being a CLP stronghold,
    I just think Eva has done enough to buck the trend and hold
    this seat. Could go CLP, but going with… ALP Retain.

    Fannie Bay: Michael Gunner (ALP). Look I would consider
    being CM an almost give me… but just ask Adam Giles.
    Tracey Hayes, CLP Candidate, has put some considerable
    resources here that it’s just fanthomable that this
    could be the upset of the night! For now, ALP Retain.

    Fong Lim: Jeff Collins (TA) aka the Fireman to Pollbludgers
    holds this historically Labor area. The CLP candidate
    has a high profile whereas the ALP candidate not as much.
    It looks to be a 3-way split and preferences to decide.
    I still think Jeff will get over the line, although,
    with him considered a traitor, the ALP voters might not
    follow him. With negative press on ALP’s handling of the
    economy, might just be enough for the ‘Fireman’ to hold
    on. Not as confident, but I’ll stick to Territory Alliance

    Goyder: Kezia Purick (IND) has initiated the Hunger Games
    in this seat with 8 candidates! What amazes me is how
    much the electorate loves her, even after the investigations
    into her behaviour as speaker. CLP and ALP to get a swing
    to them but not enough. Independent Retain.

    Gwoja (formerly Stuart): Scott McConnell (former ALP, now IND)
    leaving this seat to contest Braitling, while Chansey Peach move
    from Namatjira to contest this one. Chansey being high profile
    after becoming the first Indigenous Speakers of an Australian
    Parliament. ALP Retain.

    Johnston: If you love re-runs, well you’ll love Johnston!
    Joel Bowden (ALP) won the February by-election and is going
    against the same Green Candidate, same TA Candidate and
    an Independent who was the CLP Candidate at the by-election.
    And newcomer, the official CLP Candidate. TA’s star has faded
    since that fateful by-election. ALP Retain.

    Karama: Ngaree Ah Kit (ALP), related to the late ‘JAK’ who
    was well loved by the community, she has strong name
    recognition. With no Delia Lawrie challenging this time,
    this will be straight forward. ALP Retain.

    Katherine: Kate Ganley (ALP) was an upset at the 2016
    election, and 30% primary swings against your opponent
    are indeed rare as hens teeth. In a seat that has always
    been CLP bar this term, it’s hard to see Kate holding on.
    I would have considered TA splitting some vote but their
    star has waned. CLP GAIN.

    Mulka: It’s the 2016 political bout re-match everyone’s
    been waiting for with Yingiya Mark Guyula (IND) against
    former MLA, Lynne Walker (ALP). This could come down to
    the wire again, even with an ABC article looking into
    the mood of the electorate hard to pick. Labor has been
    putting some serious resources in here, and then Yingiya’s
    fight back with an ‘independent alliance’ with other
    candidates. Close but… Independent Retain.

    Namatjira: One of 5 ‘open’ seats as the sitting MLA
    Chansey Peach (ALP) has decided to contest Gwoja. With
    a sitting MLA gone, so too have ALP chances really in a
    seat normally in a CLP stronghold. This would be then a
    straightforward CLP Gain if it wasn’t for the high profile
    former Deputy Mayor (resigned to contest election). The
    CLP candidate was General Manager of the Alice Springs
    Correctional Centre for 6 years which could play well to
    the whole ‘law and order’ CLP campaign. TA could
    surprise on ALP preferences. Tough to call, but CLP GAIN.
    (Changed from TOSS UP)

    Nelson: Gerry Wood (IND) is retiring for issues mentioned
    on previous thread. With his backing and being involved
    in the local community, Beverley Ratahi is considered
    a shoe-in here. Independent Retain.

    Nightcliff: Natasha Fyles (ALP) on a big margin but also
    one of the few in the current government that seems to
    have done well considering all the circumstances. Touted
    as future leader. ALP Retain.

    Port Darwin: Paul Kirby (ALP) on a thin margin won this
    in 2016. I had this as originally as ALP Retain then
    TOSS UP as it seemed very close here and considering ALP
    had only won this in the landslide years of 2005 and 2016.
    Even with information from other posters about mood in this
    electorate I’m still in two minds of CLP or ALP. With the
    hammering Gunner is getting in the media this is one
    electorate I’d expect to fall but local MLA has done well.
    So… after all that… ALP Retain.

    Sanderson: Kate Worden (ALP) in an electorate that this
    century has liked to swing, but this gives a false impression
    as when it does, generally due to other circumstances. I had
    this one, like Port Darwin, as TOSS UP and considered it to be
    one to fall to CLP after the high tide of 2016… however, I
    think Kate will hold on against CLP and TA with two lower
    profile candidates and a split in the vote. ALP Retain
    (Changed from TOSS UP)

    Spillett: Lia Finocchiaro (CLP) after changing electorates
    at 2016, but really this seat is beyond doubt. CLP Retain

    Wanguri: Nicole Manison (ALP) who I had thought up until
    about 2 weeks ago would hold this very safe seat of near
    20% margin in a canter. A week in politics… you know
    the line. A horrid ALP budget perception coupled with
    the also perceived hiding of Nicole from the media really
    does make me think this one could swing wilder than others.
    Maybe not quite Braitling or Katherine 2016, but one that
    I’ve now placed to watch on election night. A historically
    ALP seat and high margin will be the saving grace. ALP Retain.

  4. That’s a great call of the card by Politics_Obsessed, and close to where the final result will end up. It’s been a weird election campaign, and a whole spectrum of potential results remains open, but the most likely (I think) is a fairly comfortable Labor win. With an almost complete dearth of opinion polling, it is very difficult to work out what, if anything, is going on!

  5. Politics_Obsessed says:
    Friday, August 21, 2020 at 11:10 am

    “For a laugh… check out the ABC Website page for Daly and
    the picture of independent Mick. Something very NT about
    that photo…”

    I had a guess before I looked. Yes, I was correct. Just ready for the front page of the NT News.

    Seriously – PO has given a great in-depth seat by seat analysis.

    Gut feeling is that it will be closer than the prediction, but hey … let’s wait 24 hrs to find out

  6. It’s also worth noting the uniquely NT phenomenon that a good hard-working local member can know personally most of the voters in his/her seat, due to the small number of voters per seat (5,000 or so). This can be a double edged sword. In 2016 I feel it worked against the CLP. Voters knew their local members and in a lot of cases didn’t like what they saw – at a personal level. FWIW it’s likely to favour Labor this time, and it’s hard to think of any sitting Labor member who attracts much personal antipathy, possibly with the exception of Michael Gunner, who seems to be a more polarising figure.

  7. @Outside thanks for that remark πŸ™‚ took a while to get done and I’ve seen little elsewhere online in regards to material on the NT Election (beyond Tallyroom, ABC, Poll bludger and the very biased NT News). But concur this election is like you said, is very difficult to work out.

    @Kevin thanks for linking that podcast. Indeed informative and a good discussion. I admit I didn’t rate highly the chances of IND in Arnhem so I’ll have to watch that closer.

    And thanks again William for your wonderful guide and thread πŸ™‚

  8. Latest Sportsbet odds

    21:00 | NT Politics
    1 Market
    NT Election – Next Sworn in Government

    Labor 1.35
    Country Liberal Party (CLP) 4.00
    Territory Alliance 8.50
    Ban Fracking Fix Crime Protect Water 101.00
    NT Greens 101.00

  9. Good summary, PO. Thanks.

    Broadly agree with it. Most likely outcome is returned Labor with a reduced but still safe margin. But some tricky calls in the mix, coz NT.

    Agree with those saying that there doesn’t seem to be a mood for change right now. People here are very happy to be virus-free and keen to stay that way, a feeling no doubt reinforced by the current Victorian situation. The CLP pushed hard for much earlier re-opening of borders, and they simply can’t avoid that or excuse it. Gunner’s government played a blinder on COVID-19 and the NT is the gold standard in Australia for handling it. For that alone the government deserve to be returned, IMHO. That sort of competence must be rewarded.

    Plus the electorate has not yet forgotten the CLP’s last effort under Adam Giles just one term back.

    But the CLP will pick up some seats, via the inevitable swing back after the absolute (and totally deserved) flogging they got last time. Lia Finocchiaro is a reasonable performer so far and could well set a regrouped CLP up for a win in 2024, particularly if COVID is under control by then and economics comes to the fore again.


    Only just discovered this local news site, and still taking it in, so can’t vouch for quality.

    But at least it isn’t the farking NT News who really have been mongrel this time round and should be required to register as a political party. Unfortunately they are apparently one of the few Murdoch rags that actually makes a consistent profit, so might be around a while yet.

    That site also has a section with a short biog and some comments from some of the candidates. (Scroll down the page for more of them.)


    and a view ALP is very Darwin centric,

    Hah! All voters outside Darwin think whoever is in government is Darwin centric. ‘Twas always thus. CLP was frequently accused of it during their unbroken reign last century.

    But if you include Palmerston and the two adjacent rural(ish) seats of Nelson and Goyder, then this so-called Greater Darwin region accounts for 15/25 seats in the NT parliament. Basically impossible for government here not to be Darwin centric. Like every other state and territory in Australia most of the population is concentrated in one place. Pretty sure you will hear the same complaint in rural-regional QLD, NSW, SA, etc.

    Goyder: Kezia Purick (IND) has initiated the Hunger Games
    in this seat with 8 candidates! What amazes me is how
    much the electorate loves her, even after the investigations
    into her behaviour as speaker. CLP and ALP to get a swing
    to them but not enough. Independent Retain.

    Purick is a good fit for the electorate, no doubt there. Be interesting to see her numbers in light of the ICAC stuff.

    The wild card in the Goyder pack might be independent Pauline Cass. She won’t win (not even close, far as I can tell), but her prefs could be important, and she might be one to watch for the next election. A long-term local, who seems good at quiet but effective networking, and is no fool.

    For a region supposedly one of the last bastions of ocker maledom, the NT does produce some interesting female pollies. Though not always good ones, such as…

    With no Delia Lawrie challenging this time,

    Or ever, hopefully.

  10. Thanks @PaulTu either way I’ll be cracking a few open and enjoying the results roll in tomorrow! 2012 and 2016 were easier to detect overall mood [not the size of each one], 2020 I admit has been harder to get a pulse on.

    @sprocket I’m amused that you could put money on ‘The Cat Walked Over My Keyboard’ party (I know I stole that from someone else in an earlier post, but love it!) considering they only have 1 candidate. Someone has an amusing sense of humour at Sportsbet…

    Thanks @JM for a thoughtful long post and reply. The Darwin Centric comment was more tongue in cheek πŸ˜› but you’re right that it applies right across the other jurisdictions.
    I hadn’t heard of the NT Independent before. Absolutely loving it. The profiles on the people running as candidates and they’re answers to the questions has proved amusing….
    Matt Patterson (TA) Candidate for Namatjira resurrects the Berrimah Line. That phrase used to be good for a drinking game down in Alice…

    But I think the winner of them all goes to LVT’s beloved Fireman, Jeff Collins MLA (TA) for Fong Lim.

    ” Tell us something interesting or quirky about yourself.

    I once went to Orange, NSW, for a weekend soccer tournament. I managed to get so drunk on the Friday night I could barely move on Saturday morning and had to sit out the first match. Unfortunately, about half way through the first half our goalkeeper was injured and had to come off. I had never played in goals before, but had no other option.

    Long story short, I spent the rest of the tournament in goals and went home with a broken nose, two black eyes and the player of the tournament gong!”

    Enough said.

    Thanks @Kevin. I did like during the podcast and now in your roundup how you’ve grouped the electorates into clusters, makes it easier to keep track of this more colourful election.

    I’ll leave the night with a final article for Election Day, for a bit of a laugh and look back at the past 4 years.

    “The NT Independent has painstakingly curated a list of tunes…of the Gunner Government’s four years in office………and crowd favourite Out of Control Juvenile Crime performed by the Territory Youth Choir.”

  11. Thanks Politics Obsessed, I agree with all your assessments with the exception of Daly which I’m fairly confident will be an ALP gain. One of the main voting centres in the electorate is the Aboriginal community of Wadeye and former CLP member Garry Higgins received 68% of the vote there last time. Will be very hard for the new CLP candidate to match that.

  12. Bucephalus @ #17 Saturday, August 22nd, 2020 – 3:39 am

    The ALP will win easily. This will then be used to talk up the ALP Federally.

    Because people realise that the ALP aree actually good at governing and taking responsibility like grown-ups. Unlike the Coalition and their congeners, who are the gold standard for duck-shoving and lack of preparedness.

  13. Go Labor! The only political party courageous enough to run as a stand alone party and under its own name in every state and territory of Australia!

  14. @Peterjk23 that’s a fair and interesting assessment. Closer to home I know that part of the reason why Bob Katter does well in QLD is his connect with the local indigenous communities and that trust has been built up over years. When he goes, that’s a massive personal vote that disappears to. So fair comment re: Higgins retiring in Daly and Labor running the same candidate from 2016 is a smart move. A few more hours and we’ll all find out πŸ™‚ will definitely be an entertaining night for sure. I wonder if it’ll be a little like Victoria 2018… when on day votes are counted with some wild results early only to be tempered or even wilder when pre-polls are counted as well.

  15. I also thought I’d do some musings on Territory Alliance. I’ve taken interest in them as there seems to be a rise of ‘regional parties’ but not quite to the effect of say Canada or Italy.
    Similar ones across the continent include KAP (QLD), Xenophon and it’s descendants [Centre Alliance/SA-Best/Advance SA] (SA), Justice (VIC) and new kid on the block Western Australian (WA).
    Some regional ones have managed to cross borders, eg SFF (NSW with outreach in WA and VIC), AJP (NSW and VIC), more recently LibDem (NSW and VIC) and of course, One Nation (QLD, and high tide elections WA & NSW).

    I had mused that beyond this election, TA doesn’t really have much glue to keep going like some of these other parties (look at the Xenophon split in SA, One Nation lost one in WA [Western Australia Party], Justice lost one in VIC) although happy to be proved wrong. I was thinking that the next real election they can run will be say in the Senate for a seat in 2022 otherwise it’s a long slog to 2024. The lure of Government or even Opposition benches can keep a party together…but we all know TA is a motley crew. Granted they do have some good candidates so I’ve listed the electorates below I think will have the highest TA votes:
    -Fong Lim
    -Fannie Bay

    Araluen, Blaine & Fong Lim because of MLAs holding those, so no need to re-hash.
    Namatjira because of the former deputy mayor running there. Serious chance but as mentioned in my predictions, the star has waned so a CLP Gain looks more likely.
    I added Daly as a hat tip to Peterjk23 as it is an open seat and I know TA have been going hard here and selected a good candidate. I don’t expect a win, but a good vote.
    Nightcliff & Fannie Bay I know there were fundraisers in those electorates, so at least some local campaign to note. If there are wild swings, these two electorates are more about where TA’s preferences flow than them actually winning.
    Johnston because Steven Klose is running again (was CLP in 2016, TA in 2020 By-election) so that name recognition is there. But as mentioned in my predictions, ALP chose a high-profile candidate for the by-election which with a few months of incumbency should help them be an ALP Retain.

    Beyond these electorates I really can’t see Territory Alliance scoring well. There was the schools announcement which was quite a targeted policy but seems to be drowned out by the plethora of announcements from the CLP. Perhaps in some ways the TA was a good kick up the bum for CLP to get their arse into gear.

    Interestingly that this election season (NT, ACT, QLD) all have ALP Governments up for re-election and I know Anna will be watching how the COVID Campaign plays out up here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *