8.20pm. The outstanding booth, which handled almost as many votes as the others put together, moderated the Labor margin to 18.9%.
7.45pm. With four out of five booths in (four of them mobile, the other a Darwin pre-poll), the result is a surprisingly emphatic win for Labor’s Manuel Brown, who leads the two-candidate count by 1112 to 265 – a margin of 30.8% as compared with 3.6% at the 2020 election.
6pm. Polling has closed; the NTEC’s results page is here. I will provide occasional updates on the progress of the count as circumstances permit.
A by-election will be held today for the Northern Territory seat of Arafura, following the death of Labor member Lawrence Costa in December. Defeat would reduce Labor from 14 seats to 13, a bare majority in a parliament of 25 in which the opposition Country Liberals hold eight seats. This post will be updated with some sort of live coverage of the count after polls close at 6pm this evening, although updates may not be particularly timely.
Arafura covers the Tiwi Islands along with mainland territory around West Arnhem, and can lay claim to the title of the country’s most heavily indigenous parliamentary seat. Labor has held it for all but one term since its creation in 1983, past members including Bob Collins and Maurice Rioli. However, it fell to the Country Liberals together with Arnhem and Stuart as part of the bush rebellion that cost Labor power in 2012, and Labor’s margin at the 2020 election was a modest 3.6%.
Labor’s new candidate is Manuel Brown, a local community service worker. It was revealed during the campaign that Brown was convicted of driving without due care following a fatal car accident in 2009, when he was 26. The Liberal candidate is Leslie Tungatalum, Tiwi Islands Regional Council and son of Hyacinth Tungatalum, who became the first indigenous member of the Legislative Assembly in 1974. A third candidate is Alan Middleton of the obscure Federation Party, whose policies include opposition to vaccine mandates