William ‘The Poll Bludger‘ Bowe’s expert analysis walks Crikey readers though the 25 electorates in the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly. Please direct corrections or comments to pollbludger-AT-crikey.com.au.

Labor seats..

Non-Labor seats

Inner Darwin

BRENNAN (2.7%)

(5.8%) DALY
Darwin Outskirts

Inner Darwin

Northern Darwin

FONG LIM (4.3%)
Inner Darwin

Northern Darwin

Northern Darwin

(10.8%) KARAMA
Northern Darwin

GOYDER (8.4%)
Darwin Outskirts

Top End


Northern Darwin


(14.7%) WANGURI
Northern Darwin

BLAIN (10.6%)

(15%) STUART
Central Australia

Alice Springs

(15.6%) BARKLY

Alice Springs

Top End

ARALUEN (24.7%)
Alice Springs

Top End

NELSON (28.7%)
Outer Darwin

Central Australia


Australian Labor Party
Country Liberal Party



Labor 14.0%

Region: Top End
Outgoing Member: Marion Scrymgour (Labor)
Candidates: Francis Xavier Maralampui (CLP); Dean Rioli (Labor)

Arafura includes Bathurst and Melville islands plus mainland territory to the east of Darwin. It was held from its creation in 1983 until 1987 by Bob Collins, who served as Opposition Leader from 1981 to 1987 (he had previously been member for Arnhem) and Senator from 1987 to 1998. Collins committed suicide in 2007 shortly after being charged with child sex offences. His successors in Arafura have all been Tiwi islanders, the first two being Stan Tipiloura, who held the seat until his death in 1992, and the late Australian rules legend Maurice Rioli, member until 2001. The seat has since been held by former Katherine West Health Board director Marion Scrymgour, who entered cabinet upon the election of Clare Martin’s government in 2001. She succeeded Paul Henderson as deputy leader when Martin quit as Chief Minister in November 2007, thereby attaining the highest rank ever attained by an indigenous person in an Australian government.

Shortly after being demoted from Education Minister to Attorney-General in February 2009, following a troubled tenure in the former portfolio, Scrymgour stood down from the deputy leadership and the ministry as she needed treatment for thyroid cancer. There was much speculation at the time that she might retire from parliament, bringing on a by-election with the potential to bring down the government. This did not occur, but she did leave the ALP in June 2009 in protest against a policy to concentrate indigenous development in larger communities, thereby reducing the government to 12 seats in parliament out of 25. However, she returned to the party in August 2009 immediately after the defection of another Aboriginal former minister, Alison Anderson, with whom Scrymgour had been at loggerheads in the past.

Few were surprised when Scrymgour announced in March that she would not seek another term, with Paul Henderson already having sounded out Dean Rioli, another former Essendon player and nephew of Maurice, to succeed her as Labor candidate (when a by-election appeared in prospect in early 2009, Rioli’s former teammate Michael Long confirmed he had received an approach from the CLP). The CLP has endorsed Francis Xavier Maralampui, a Tiwi Islands councillor, deputy chair of the Tiwi Land Council and former ALP member.

Country Liberal 24.7%

Region: Alice Springs
Candidates: Edan Ross Baxter (First Nations); Robyn Lambley (CLP); Adam Findlay (Labor)

Araluen takes in the south-western corner of Alice Springs and the hinterland beyond, and has been held by the Country Liberal Party since its creation in 1983. Its three members have been Eric Poole from 1986 until 2001, Jodeen Carney from 2001 until September 2010, and Robyn Lambley thereafter. Carney emerged a narrow victor at the 2001 election in the face of two strong independent challengers, one of whom had won the local CLP preselection vote but had his endorsement overturned by the party’s central council. Carney’s clear win in 2005 was one of the few bright spots for a CLP that emerged from that election with just four seats, and she emerged as leader of the depleted party in the wake of Denis Burke’s defeat in Brennan. This lasted until Terry Mills, who was reticent after his initial experience as leader from November 2003 to February 2005, decided he wanted the job back, with Carney agreeing to fall on her sword rather than endure the resulting two-all deadlock in the party room. Carney announced in August 2010 that she was quitting parliament on health grounds, and was succeeded at the ensuing by-election by Robyn Lambley, Alice Springs councillor and owner of local retail store Mad Harry’s.

Labor (uncontested in 2008)

Region: Top End
Candidates: Malarndirri McCarthy (Labor); Larisa Lee (CLP)  

The electorate of Arnhem covers Groote Eylandt and a thinly populated area of eastern Arnhem Land. A Labor seat since 1977, it has been held since 2005 by Malarndirri McCarthy (who at the time of her first election identified as Barbara McCarthy), an ABC newsreader of indigenous background who had also been approached as a potential candidate by the CLP. McCarthy did well to add 11.5% to the Labor primary vote despite the loss of sitting member John Ah Kit’s personal vote, and she was one of two Labor members to be returned unopposed at the 2008 election. Her most high-profile moment during her debut term came in May 2007 when she and two other Aboriginal members crossed the floor to oppose legislation allowing Xstrata to expand its McArthur River mine. All three were promoted to the ministry from Labor’s depleted ranks after the 2008 election, McCarthy taking on the children and families and child protection portfolios. She was moved to local government and regional development in December 2009, not long after the release of an independent report critical of the handling of the child abuse cases. The CLP has endorsed an indigenous candidate in Barunga health worker Larisa Lee, who has “close ties with the Jawoyn, Dalabon and Mayali people” (particularly it would seem the former).

Labor 15.6%

Region: Outback
Candidates: Valda Shannon (First Nations); Gerry McCarthy (Labor); Rebecca Healy (CLP)

Barkly covers Tennant Creek and the surrounding area, including the coast immediately west of the Queensland border. The seat was held from its creation in 1983 until 1990 by former Chief Minister Ian Tuxworth, who reacted to his dumping from the CLP leadership in 1986 by enlisting with the Joh for PM push, forming a local branch of the National Party, and retaining the seat under its banner by 19 votes. The result was later annulled and the narrowly defeated independent candidate, Maggie Hickey, stood for Labor at the ensuing supplementary election. Tuxworth prevailed again, but when Labor-voting Aboriginal communities were then added to the seat at the 1990 election he jumped ship for an unsuccessful run at Goyder. Barkly was then won for Labor by Hickey, who went on to serve as Opposition Leader from 1996 until 1999. Hickey retired at the 2001 election, and Barkly was comfortably retained for Labor by Elliot McAdam. McAdam became Local Government Minister after the 2005 election, but resigned in February 2008 when Paul Henderson insisted on watering down his proposed council reforms. His decision not to seek another term won much admiration, as it meant forfeiting almost $1 million in superannuation. The seat has since been held by Gerry McCarthy, previously a local school teacher. McCarthy was promoted to the ministry following the resignation of Marion Scrymgour in February 2009, taking on the transport and corrections portfolios, and further gained lands and planning the following December. The CLP has endorsed Rebecca Healy, a part-time law student and manager of a Tennant Creek motor inn who was named Northern Territory Young Australian of the Year for her work in establishing a youth mental health program.

Country Liberal 10.6%

Region: Palmerston
Candidates: Daniel Fejo (First Nations); Geoff Bahnert (Labor); Terry Mills (CLP)

Covering the south-east of Palmerston, Blain has been safe for the CLP since its creation in 1997, delivering them a solid margin even amid the disaster of 2005 (when it swung to Labor by 9.7%). The inaugural member was Barry Coulter, who had previously held the abolished seat of Palmerston since 1983. Coulter retired mid-term and CLP candidate Terry Mills came alarmingly close to losing to Labor at the ensuing by-election, held on 31 July 1999. Mills suffered no such troubles at ensuing elections, and won promotion to Shadow Education Minister when Denis Burke’s government was defeated in 2001. He soon emerged as a leadership rival to Burke, launching an unsuccessful challenge in June 2003 before succeeding on the second attempt in November 2003.

Mills quickly crashed and burned on his first run as party leader, suffering from poor performances in parliament and on television. Denis Burke was returned unopposed when Mills stood aside in February 2005, saying he lacked the experience to win and “wasn’t up to the job”. He was accordingly happy for Jodeen Carney to take the reins in the wake of the 2005 election disaster, which cost Burke and several other CLP members their seats, but he evidently built more confidence over the next two years. Having won the backing of Katherine MP Fay Miller, he persuaded Carney to stand aside to avoid a two-all deadlock, with Carney maintaining the support of recently elected Greatorex MP Matt Conlan. His position was secured by a strong performance at the 2008 election, when the CLP gained a 9.2% swing, increased its representation from four seats to 11, and came within 78 votes of winning a twelfth seat, which may have enabled it to form government with the support of independent Nelson MP Gerry Wood.

Country Liberal 20.3%

Region: Alice Springs
Candidates: Colin Furphy (Independent); Deborah Rock (Labor); Adam Giles (CLP); Barbara Shaw (Greens)

Braitling covers the north-western suburbs of Alice Springs and has been a conservative seat since it was created in 1983. Loraine Braham held the seat from 1994 to 2008, as a CLP member until February 2001 and as an independent thereafter. The split followed a decision by the CLP’s central council to overturn her preselection win and install local businessman Peter Harvey. Braham defeated Harvey at the election with Labor preferences, and the new Labor government added a small amount of breathing space for itself by restoring her to her earlier position as Speaker. Braham was narrowly re-elected in 2005 after seeing off a challenge from Alice Springs alderman Michael Jones, and retired in 2008. The seat was then comfortably won for the CLP by Adam Giles, who had previously worked for the Federal Employment and Workplace Relations Department, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and as a public housing manager for ATSIC. Giles was the only CLP member to back Fong Lim MP David Tollner in his challenge to Terry Mills’s leadership in August 2010.

Country Liberal 2.7%

Region: Palmerston
Candidates: Peter Chandler (CLP); Russell Jeffrey (Labor)

The Palmerston seat of Brennan was created at the 1990 election and has been held for all but one term by the CLP. The exception was a boilover result amid the Labor landslide in 2005, when CLP leader and former Chief Minister Denis Burke suffered a 20.9% swing and a 137-vote defeat at the hands of unheralded Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union official James Burke. Denis Burke had come to the seat in 1994 after unseating Max Ortmann for preselection, and then holding off his attempt to retain the seat as an independent. Ortmann in turn came to the seat upon its creation in 1990 after defeating a sitting CLP member, Col Firmin, firstly for preselection and then against an attempt by him to win the seat as an independent.

A relatively mild 3.3% swing was enough to return the seat to the CLP fold in 2008, the winning candidate being Peter Chandler, regulatory services manager at Palmerston City Council. The seat will be contested for Labor at the coming election by Russell Jeffrey, a former St Kilda and Brisbane Bears AFL player who later coached the Palmerston football club. James Burke will be attempting a comeback in the neighbouring seat of Drysdale.

Labor 14.3%

Region: Northern Suburbs
Candidates: Kon Vatskalis (Labor); Jane Johnson (CLP)

The Darwin seat of Casuarina has existed since the parliament was established in 1974, being held by the CLP for its first 20 years by Nick Dondas, who went on to hold the federal seat of Northern Territory for one term after the 1996 election. Dondas’s departure from Casuarina produced a contest at the 1994 election between television newsreader Peter Adamson of the CLP and ABC Radio presenter Clare Martin of Labor. Adamson prevailed and Martin instead found a way to parliament was member for Fannie Bay from 1995. After serving as a minister in the Shane Stone and Denis Burke governments, Adamson suffered a narrow defeat at the hands of Labor’s Kon Vatskalis in 2001. He went on to become lord mayor of Darwin, before standing aside in May 2007 after being charged over misuse of council funds, for which he was later convicted and jailed.

Greek-born Vatskalis has held numerous portfolios in his three terms as a minister, taking on health in February 2009 and children and families in December 2009 (respectively replacing Johnston MP Chris Burns and Arnhem MP Malarndirri McCarthy, who were seen to have struggled in the roles), while retaining primary industries, fisheries and resources throughout. He will be opposed at the election by CLP candidate Jane Johnson, the chief executive of Lifeline Top End.

Labor 5.8%

Region: Darwin Outskirts
Candidates: Gary Higgins (CLP); David Pollock (Greens); Trevor Jenkins (Independent); Rob Knight (Labor); Bill Risk (Independent)

The pastoral and outer Darwin electorate of Daly was created in 2001 in place of Victoria River, the station of that name having been removed from the electorate after a redistribution. In the face of some very stiff competition, it provided Labor with its best result of the 2005 election, the retirement of sitting CLP member Tim Baldwin contributing to a collapse in the CLP primary vote from 57.2% to 28.0% and a two-party swing of 24.3% swing. Labor candidate Rob Knight, a federal public servant reportedly backed by the Right faction Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association, increased the Labor vote by 18.8% and won the seat without going to preferences. This left him with enough fat to survive a 10.2% correction that was broadly in line with the Territory-wide result in 2008. Knight was promoted to Local Government Minister in February 2008, further gaining housing after the August 2008 election. He encountered difficulty in the latter portfolio over the government’s contentious handling of the Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Project, which prompted Macdonnell MP Alison Anderson to quit the party, and exchanged it for business and employment in the December 2009 reshuffle. The CLP candidate is Gary Higgins, owner of the Daly River Mango Farm and former director of corporate services with the Attorney-General’s Department.

Country Liberal 9.3%

Region: Palmerston
Candidates: James Burke (Labor); Ross Bohlin (Independent); Lia Fionocchario (CLP)

Drysdale covers the northern part of the generally conservative-voting Darwin satellite town of Palmerston, and has been held by the CLP for all but one term since it was created in place of abolished Leanyer in 1997. The exception of course was after the 2005 landslide, when Labor’s Chris Natt defeated sitting member Stephen Dunham by 1.6% after a 17.7% swing. A redistribution before the 2008 election nudged it back into the CLP column by removing Darwin outskirts areas to the new seat of Fong Lim, and a 9.7% swing at the ensuing election secured an easy win for the CLP candidate, Ross Bohlin. Bohlin was advised by the party’s central council in February 2012 that he would not be preselected for another term, the opinion being circulated that he “didn’t have a clue about politics”. The ensuing preselection was won by Lia Finocchiaro, a commercial litigation lawyer and president of the Palmerston Regional Business Association. Bohlin subsequently announced he would run as an independent, promising an end to the “political bullshit” of party politics.

Labor 0.9%

Region: Inner Darwin
Candidates: Michael Gunner (Labor); Ken Bird (Greens); Tony Clementson (CLP)

The seat of Fannie Bay has existed since the parliament was established in 1974, and has been held by Labor since Clare Martin won it at a by-election in 1995. It was originally held for the CLP by Grant Tambling, who would later serve one term in the House of Representatives and several in the Senate. After a term in Labor’s hands from 1977, Fannie Bay was recovered for the CLP in 1980 by Marshall Perron, formerly the member for Stuart Park, who went on to serve as Chief Minister from 1988 until his retirement in 1995. Martin won the by-election held to replace him, and went on to become party leader in 1999 and Chief Minister in 2001. Martin’s 8.5% swing in 2005 boosted the margin to 18.3%, but her retirement at the 2008 election helped fuel a 14.6% shift to CLP candidate and its candidate Gerry Lambert, a former lord mayor, which together with a slightly unfavourable redistribution reduced the Labor margin to 1.1%. The margin in absolute terms was 78 votes, which is frequently cited as the amount which stood between the CLP and winning government. The seat has since been held for Labor by Michael Gunner, who was previously chief-of-staff to Local Government Minister Rob Knight. His CLP opponent will be Tony Clementson, the general manager of Tourism Top End, who won preselection ahead of Country Liberals president Sue Fraser-Adams.

Country Liberal 4.3%

Region: Outer Darwin
Candidates: Ashley Marsh (Labor); David Tollner (CLP); Matt Haubrick (Greens)

Fong Lim extends from the inner Darwin suburbs of Ludmilla and Woolmer through the outskirts south of the airport and RAAF base out to the edge of Palmerston. It was created at the 2008 election in place of abolished Millner, the suburb of that name having been transferred to Johnston. Millner was one of the five seats Labor won in 1977 after striking out altogether at the first Assembly election in 1974. One-time Labor leader Terry Smith held the seat from 1983 until his retirement in 1991, when future Darwin legal academic and Club Troppo blogger Ken Parish carried it for Labor at a by-election. Parish was unseated by Phil Mitchell of the CLP at the 1994 election despite an overall swing to Labor, a result widely credited to late-campaign push-polling that targeted every household in the electorate. Mitchell held the seat until 2001 when preferences delivered an 82-vote win to Labor’s Matthew Bonson, a lawyer and local sporting identity of varied but mostly indigenous heritage, in a result that helped secured Labor its one-seat majority.

Bonson emerged as one of the government’s more colourful figures in his two terms as member, but a notional margin of 11.5% in the new seat of Fong Lim was not enough for him to hold off CLP candidate David Tollner, who prevailed with a 13.6% swing. Tollner had represented Darwin in the federal parliament as member for Solomon from 2001 until his defeat in 2007. An earlier brush with Territory politics came in 1997 when he fell 41 votes short of winning Nelson as an independent running in opposition to gun control. Tollner was being touted as a threat to Terry Mills’ CLP leadership even before he entered parliament, although he emerged only with the fairly minor shadow portfolios after the election. In August 2010 he challenged Mills for the leadership but was defeated by eight votes to two (his other supporter being Braitling MP Adam Giles), and subsequently went to the back bench. The Northern Territory News obtained an email from Tollner in February 2011 in which he castigated Mills, saying the party could not win the election with him as leader. Tollner nonetheless returned to the front bench the following August, reportedly after internal polling showed him to be the most popular member on either side of the parliament. Labor’s candidate will be Ashley Marsh, a commercial lawyer with the Department of Justice.

Country Liberal 8.4%

Region: Darin Outskirts
Candidates: Kezia Purick (CLP); John Kearney (Independent); Damien Smith (Labor)

Goyder covers the semi-rural area around Humpty Doo 40 kilometres to the south-east of Darwin and Palmerston, from which it extends to the latter’s outskirts. Outside of Labor’s win in the 2005 landslide, it has been held by the CLP since its creation in 1990. Its previous members were Terry McCarthy, who moved to the seat from Victoria River (now called Daly), and Peter Maley, who quickly emerged as a rival to then CLP leader Denis Burke. The job instead went to Terry Mills when Burke was deposed in 2003, after which Maley’s relationship with his party quickly deteriorated. He quit the party after being dumped from the front bench in 2004, and bowed out at the 2005 election. It then emerged as a shock win for Labor, whose candidate Ted Warren was the beneficiary of a 16.4% swing and a 21.4% plunge in the CLP primary vote. Redistribution returned the seat to notional CLP status going into the 2008 election, and a 7.9% swing returned the seat comfortably to the party fold.

The new member was Kezia Purick, daughter of long-serving Nelson independent MP Noel Padgham-Purich and previously the chief executive of the Northern Territory Minerals Council (Purick had been defeated for preselection at the 2005 election because, according to a party source quoted by the Northern Territory News, there were “too many women in the Territory parliament already”, with Purick especially unsuitable as she was childless and unmarried). The newly elected Purick was the surprise choice for the deputy leadership after the election, and has equally surprisingly been able to maintain the position despite at one point threatening to quit the party over its stonewalling of government moves to achieve statehood for the Northern Territory. Purick is also known to have joined the anti-Mills camp in the party room, although she voted for him when David Tollner challenged his leadership in 2010. According to the Northern Territory News, Mills has made it clear that he considers Shadow Treasurer John Elferink rather than Purick as his “right hand man”.

Country Liberal 16.5%

Region: Alice Springs
Candidagtes: Rowan Foley (Labor); Evelyne Roullet (Greens); Phil Walcott (Independent); Matt Conlan (CLP)

Greatorex covers the eastern side of Alice Springs, and was named Sadadeen until 1990. It was held from 1980 to 1994 by Dennis Collins, firstly for the CLP and then as an independent after he lost preselection to future Chief Minister Shane Stone in 1986. Collins was defeated in 1994 by Richard Lim, who had risen to the position of Education Minister by the time of the CLP’s 2001 election defeat. Lim survived a 7.5% swing to hold on by 1.5% amid the 2005 landslide, when Alice Springs mayor Fran Kilgariff ran against him for Labor. He retired mid-term in 2007, and the seat was easily retained for the CLP at the ensuing by-election by local radio host Matt Conlan, with Labor’s candidate finishing third behind an independent.

Labor 6.9%

Region: Northern Suburbs
Outgoing member: Chris Burns (Labor)
Candidates: Peter Bussa (Independent); Krystal Metcalf (Australian Sex Party); Alana Parrott-Jolly (Greens); Jo Sangster (CLP); Ken Vowles (Labor)

The northern Darwin seat of Johnston was created at the 2001 election in place of abolished Jingili, which had existed since the Assembly’s creation in 1974. Jingili was held throughout its existence by the CLP, for the first ten years by Paul Everingham, the Northern Territory’s first Chief Minister and a future member of the House of Representatives. Chris Burns unseated Steve Balch from the renamed seat in 2001, and was immediately rewarded with a position in the ministry. He took on the health and Attorney-General portfolios in September 2006 and November 2007 respectively, but was demoted to business and tourism in February 2009, before being reassigned from business to education the following December. Burns enjoyed consecutive swings of 9.2% in 2001 and 12.7% in 2005, before suffering a fairly typical 8.7% correction in 2008. He will retire at the coming election, to be succeeded as Labor candidate by Ken Vowles, a senior planner with Parks and Wildlife and former captain of the Northern Territory of the cricket team. The CLP have again endorsed their candidate from last time, former Darwin deputy mayor Jo Sangster.

Labor 10.8%

Region: Northern Suburbs
Candidates: Delia Lawrie (Labor); Rohan Kelly (CLP); Frances Elcoate (Greens)

The northern Darwin seat of Karama has so far served as an electoral litmus test for the Territory, having been held by the CLP from its creation in 1987 until 2001 and henceforth by Labor. Inaugural member Mick Palmer, who had previously been member abolished Leanyer, held on grimly in 1994 and 1997 before being swept out by the northern suburbs tide that delivered victory to Labor in 2001. The member since has been Delia Lawrie, whose mother Dawn Lawrie was a long-serving independent member in the 1970s. Lawrie secured her hold on the seat with a 13.3% swing in 2005, and easily survived a 5.2% correction in 2008.

Lawrie has emerged as one of the government’s highest profile figures, assuming the Treasury portfolio after Clare Martin and Syd Stirling departed in November 2007. On the latter occasion she also planned to stand for the deputy leadership, but was reportedly persuaded to settle for leader of government business so the job could go to Arafura MP Marion Scrymgour. She eventually attained the position when Scrymgour resigned in February 2009, at which time she further gained the Attorney-General portfolio, which she exchanged for trade in October 2011.

The CLP initially preselected Darwin barrister Wayne Connop, who had been an active Labor member and two-time election candidate prior to 2007, before emerging as CLP candidate for Daly in 2008. However, he was dropped after being stood down on full pay from his position as chief executive of the North Australian Aboriginal Family Violence Legal Service pending a misconduct investigation. The CLP clearly struggled for a replacement, settling for 23-year-old Rohan Kelly.

Country Liberal 8.4%

Region: Katherine
Candidates: Cerise King (Labor); Willem Westra van Holthe (CLP); Teresa Cummings (Independent)

The electorate of Katherine includes most of the town bearing its name along with the Tindall air base, and has been held by the CLP at all times since its creation in 1987. Mike Reed held the seat until his mid-term retirement in 2003, precipitating a by-election at which Fay Miller held on for the CLP in the face of a 10.2% swing to Labor. Miller managed to hold out against the 2005 landslide with only a slight reduction in her primary vote and a 1.3% two-party swing against the by-election, before bowing out at the 2008 election citing her need to recover from injuries sustained in a car accident. Her initial replacement for the CLP nomination was Teresa Cummings, but she withdrew shortly after the 2008 election was called after running into trouble over claims she bullied staff while working for the Territory Business Centre. The CLP swiftly endorsed police sergeant Willem Westra van Holthe, who easily retained the seat with a 5.7% swing. A departmental investigation having cleared her in the interim, Cummings challenged Westra van Holthe for preselection ahead of the coming election, but was not successful.

Labor (uncontested in 2008)

Previously named Macdonnell 
Central Australia
Candidates: Des Rogers (Labor); Alison Anderson (CLP); Warren H. Williams (First Nations)

Covering the southernmost areas of the Northern Territory outside of Alice Springs, Namatjira is the new name for the seat of Macdonnell, which has otherwise been unchanged by the redistribution. It is held by Alison Anderson, who over the course of the last term has quit the Labor Party first to sit as an independent in protest against the government’s handling of the Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Project, and then joining the Country Liberal Party in September 2011. Her initial defection raised doubts about the government’s security in office, but it was able to secure the ongoing support of independent Nelson MP Gerry Wood as well as luring Arafura MP Marion Scrymgour back to the party after a period of estrangement.

Macdonnell was one of the original seats created in 1974, and was held by Labor from 1977 until 1997 when it was lost upon the retirement of Neil Bell, the member since 1981. Labor’s defeat was influenced by preferences from independent Ken Lechleitner, who had directed preferences to the CLP after failing to win Labor preselection. New member John Elferink did very well to retain the seat for the CLP in the face of the 2001 election defeat, with Antony Green calculating the redistribution had turned it into a notional Labor seat. However, he was not spared the lash in 2005, when Macdonnell was one of four seats to deliver Labor swings in excess of 20% (Elferink would return at the 2008 election as the CLP’s member for Port Darwin). Alison Anderson then began her tenure as member, having formerly been a Northern Territory Central ATSIC commissioner. She was one of two members who were returned unopposed in 2008, the other being Malarndirri McCarthy in Arnhem. Her Labor opponent at the coming election will be Des Rogers, an adviser in the Office of the Chief Minister.

Independent 28.7% vs CLP

Region: Outer Darwin
Candidates: Sharon McAlear (Labor); Gerry Wood (Independent); Judy Cole (CLP)

Replacing abolished Koolpinyah in 1990, Nelson covers semi-rural areas from the eastern edge of Darwin to the Adelaide River. The inaugural member was Noel Padgham-Purich (a woman), who had held other seats as a CLP member from 1977 and as an independent after losing preselection in 1987. When Padgham-Purich retired in 1997, Nelson was recovered for the CLP by Chris Lugg, who narrowly defeated a Padgham-Purich endorsed independent, David Toller – later to emerge as the CLP’s federal member for Solomon and state member for Fong Lim. Lugg served as Education Minister in the final term of the Burke government before his defeat in 2001 by the present independent member, former Litchfield shire president Gerry Wood. The 2005 election again saw Wood face off against Lugg, but the result proved consistent with the overall CLP disaster by giving Wood a 15.9% two-candidate swing, with the CLP down 17.3% on the primary vote. Wood added another 15.0% to his primary vote and 12.1% to his two-party preferred in 2008.

Labor 24.2%

Region: Top End
Candidates: Allen Fanning (CLP); Kendall Trudgen (Independent); Lynne Walker (Labor)

The Gove Peninsula electorate of Nhulunbuy has become one of Labor’s safest, but Labor won neither it nor any other seat when the first Legislative Assembly election was held in 1974, and it would not fall to them until 1980 (the last time Labor would acquire a new seat until 2001). Syd Stirling held the seat from 1990 and emerged as Clare Martin’s deputy leader and Treasurer, abandoning his positions when she did in November 2007 and likewise bowing out at the 2008 election. The new Labor member was Lynne Walker, a former English teacher and Rio Tinto employee said to have been “groomed for the position” by Stirling.

Labor 10.7%

Region: Northern Suburbs
Outgoing member: Jane Aagaard (Labor)
Candidates: Natasha Fyles (Labor); Owen Gale (Greens); Stuart Blanch (Independent); Andrew Arthur (Independent); Felicity Wardle (Australian Sex Party); Peter Rudge (Independent); Kim Loveday (CLP)

The northern Darwin seat of Nightcliff was won for the first time by Labor when Clare Martin’s government came to power in 2001, and has remained with them since following swings to Labor of 8.5% in 2005 and against Labor of 5.0% in 2008. It was held from its creation in 1974 until 1983 by independent Dawn Lawrie (mother of current Treasurer and Karama MP Delia Lawrie), who was succeeded in 1983 by CLP member Steve Hatton, the Chief Minister from 1986 to 1988. Hatton’s son Jason attempted to hold the seat for the CLP when his father retired in 2001, but an 11.7% swing delivered it to Labor’s Jane Aagaard. After an unproductive spell as Health Minister in the early years of Clare Martin’s government, Aagaard assumed the position of Speaker after the 2005 election, and retained it over successive terms. She is not contesting the coming election, and has been succeeded as Labor candidate by Natasha Fyles, former executive director of Northern Territory Surf Life Saving. The CLP candidate is Kim Loveday, whose CV includes stints as a probation and parole officer, intelligence adviser and adviser to the Solomon Islands Prison Service.

Country Liberal 2.9%

Region: Inner Darwin
Candidates: Rowena Leunig (Australian Sex Party); John Elferink (CLP); David Andrews (Greens); Alan James (Labor)

One of six Labor seats to fall to the CLP in 2008, Port Darwin covers the Darwin business district along with the inner suburbs of Larrakeyah and Stuart Park. The previous members were Shane Stone, who held the seat from 1990 and served as Chief Minister from 1995 until he was dumped in favour of Denis Burke in 1999, and Sue Carter, who succeeded Stone at a by-election in March 2000. Carter survived an independent challenge in 2001 from former Casuarina MP and one-term federal member Nick Dondas, before succumbing to a narrow defeat by Labor’s Kerry Sacilotto in 2005. Sacilott’s 2.0% margin was insufficient to withstand a relatively mild 4.8% swing in 2008, and the seat passed to John Elferink, a previous member for the remote electorate of Macdonnell who had lost his seat in 2005. Elferink was promptly given the Shadow Treasurer portfolio, and the Northern Territory News reports that Terry Mills has “made it clear to all” that Elferink is his “right hand man”, in an apparent snub to his notional deputy Kezia Purick.

Country Liberal 5.2%

Region: Northern Suburbs
Candidates: Jodie Green (Labor); Peter Styles (CLP); Dimitrious Magriplis (First Nations); Jillian Briggs (Australian Sex Party)

Sanderson covers the northern Darwin suburbs of Anula, Wulagi, Marrara and part of Malak, and has expanded over two redistributions into Wagaman in the west. The seat delivered Labor one of its worst results in 2008, when a 10.0% margin was demolished by a swing of 16.4%. Together with its northern suburbs neighbours, the seat shifted decisively to Labor when Clare Martin came to power in 2001, public servant Len Kiely defeating CLP member Daryl Manzie with a 12.3% swing to record Labor’s first win since 1977. Kiely was re-elected in 2005 with a 7.0% swing that was fairly mild by the standards of Darwin at that election, and then dumped in 2008 by a 16.4% swing to the CLP candidate, former policeman Peter Styles. Styles has been named as one of four members of the CLP party room opposed to the leadership of Terry Mills, although he supported him in David Tollner’s leadership challenge in August 2010.

Labor 15.0%

Region: Central Australia
Candidates: Bess Price (CLP); Karl Hampton (Labor); Maurie Japarta Ryan (First Nations)

Overwhelmingly dominated by Aboriginal voters, Stuart surrounds but does not include Katherine, extending south to Yuendumu and covering about half the length of the border with Western Australia. An electorate bearing the name has existed since self-government began in 1974, but its character was altered in 1983 when a redistribution moved it out of Alice Springs. It then fell to Labor for the first time and has been safe for them ever since, the members since being former Brian Ede until 1996, Peter Toyne until 2006, and Karl Hampton since a by-election held upon Toyne’s mid-term retirement. Hampton was one of three indigenous members who crossed the floor to vote against a bill to reopen the McArthur River mine, and like the other two he was promoted to cabinet after the 2008 election: firstly for regional development, then acquiring the central Australia portfolio in February 2009, and exchanging regional development for natural resources, environment and heritage in December 2009. The CLP candidate is Indigenous Affairs Advisory Council chair Bess Price, whom Misha Schubert of the Sydney Morning Herald describes as the “public face” of the case in favour of the emergency intervention into remote indigenous communities.

Labor 20.8%

Region: Northern Suburbs
Candidates: Paul Henderson (Labor); Rhianna Harker (CLP)

Paul Henderson’s seat of Wanguri covers the northern Darwin suburbs of Wanguri and Leanyer. It was held by the CLP’s Don Dale from its creation in 1983 until his retirement in 1989, subsequently falling to Labor’s John Bailey at a by-election. Bailey nearly lost the seat against the trend of a general pro-Labor swing at the 1994 election, which many blamed on CLP push-polling that also targeted Ken Parish in Millner. Bailey’s retirement in 1999 precipitated a by-election in which Paul Henderson picked up an 11.5% two-party swing. Antony Green estimated that the redistribution before the 2001 election had turned it into a notional CLP seat, but Henderson was comfortably returned with 55.3% of the primary vote, to which he added a further 15.5% in 2005 before suffering a relatively mild 5.9% correction in 2008.

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