More bullying behind closed doors?


It appears the CLP Parliamentary wing room isn’t the only place where bullying conduct can take place behind closed doors.
Following the furore over Member for Namatjira Alison Anderson being verbally abused in the most offensive terms by Minister for Central Australia Matt Conlan, information has emerged about events in the secret sessions of the Town Council.
Sources are saying that during heated exchanges at two of its “confidential” sessions – from which the public is excluded – Cr Eli Melky (pictured) threatened a fellow Councillor with legal action, without having any reasonable cause to do so.
Sources who spoke to the Alice Springs News Online said Cr Melky’s threats on separate occasions were very unsettling for the Councillor targeted.
There has been much discussion about “in confidential” meetings of the council, seen by some as an unacceptable device to conceal from the public matters that are in the public interest.
Others say it is a way of protecting council members who do not enjoy protection of Parliamentary privilege.
Cr Melky, when offered a right of reply, emailed: “Twice? Where is your evidence? Please feel free to print what ever you like.”
Cr Melky, in August last year, spoke out in favour of greater transparency, advocating for council matters dealt with “in confidential” to be brought before the meetings open to the public.


  1. Following the revelations of an insulting comment made by MLA Conlan and his subsequent apology, Mr Conlan’s pre-selection in Greatorex might not be a done deal. Others might decide to try their luck. Perhaps among them will be Cr Melky.
    Since this story does little to enhance his chances, that is if it ever goes that far, and since he has replied, “Twice? Where is your evidence? Please feel free to print what ever you like,” can we please clear this up?
    A public accusation such as the one I believe was made by MLA Lambly in the Conlan affair would do it. At least it would get this particular matter out in the open.
    I am assuming Erwin did not cut this story out of whole cloth. Time, please, for the original complainant to come out from behind the cloak of confidentiality. A man has been accused of something and seems to want to have his right of reply, not just to this story, but to the accusation behind it.
    Fair enough. In fairness and decency he is entitled to that.

  2. Melky is a man under pressure. He is one of the Giles cronies. Giles encouraged, supported and planted “one” in each council around the Territory for Intel, at the last round of council elections. Melky can smell the blood seeping. He’s not as silly as some people think. He is acutely aware the political environment, both State and Local, is not working out the way they intended. Their networks are fracturing, breaking and turning on each other. It’s all just a matter of time. Reap what you sowed guys 😉

  3. The revelation of Matt Conlan’s alleged offensive remark to Alison Anderson by Robyn Lambley on ABC-TV is a rare event; and it strongly suggests to me the knives are out for Conlan within the CLP. There are several precedents I can draw upon.
    The first is the demise of Chief Minister Ian Tuxworth in May 1986 after he came under sustained pressure from late 1985 onwards following the revelation that he had been paid travel allowance in the early 1980s to which he was not entitled. This situation arose following Tuxworth’s relocation of his family to Darwin from Tennant Creek in 1981 (Tuxworth was the Member for Barkly).
    He had claimed travel allowance following this shift, for a sum less than $10,000, until he had been advised he was ineligible to do so. Tuxworth subsequently arranged a loan to repay the money (according to a document I have, written by then CLP Senator Bernie Kilgariff, Tuxworth’s accountant was Graeme Lewis, formerly the party treasurer in the 1970s, and the party president in 1985-86).
    The matter of the travel allowance was settled long before Tuxworth became Chief Minister in October 1984; yet it suddenly became an issue in late 1985 onwards, ultimately leading to Tuxworth calling an extraordinary Central Council meeting in early May 1986 in which he sought to have Graeme Lewis removed as the CLP president.
    However, the tables were turned and it was Tuxworth who was obliged to resign as Chief Minister (I was in attendance at that Central Council meeting, my first of many for several years to follow).
    Former CLP Senator Grant Tambling was also maneuvered out of office, prior to the Federal elections of 2001. It was clear his number was up in August 1999 when, at the CLP’s Annual Conference in Alice Springs, former Deputy CM (and former Member for Blain) Barry Coulter called upon Tambling to retire from politics and make way for “new blood”.
    Tambling had no intention of doing so but in the months leading up to the elections of 2001 he was required to vote against the Howard Government’s legislation banning internet gambling in Australia. Tambling refused to cross the floor against the Liberal-National federal government, contrary to the CLP’s directions, and so that became the pretext by which he lost endorsement as the CLP’s number one senate candidate that year.
    Former Member for Braitling Loraine Braham suffered a similar fate in the year 2000. In October there was a front page story published in the Centralian Advocate about a young woman who had been sold a “dud” house by the NT Housing Commission – this article put the Minister for Housing, Loraine Braham, in a bad light.
    I knew instantly after reading this story that Mrs Braham’s political life was at stake – sure enough, the next month witnessed her being dumped from preselection as the CLP’s candidate for Braitling for the next NT election campaign.
    Finally there is the Leo Abbott affair in August 2010, just days out from the Federal election, when it was revealed the CLP’s candidate for Lingiari had breached a Domestic Violence Order by contacting his ex-partner by text message. This “revelation” was engineered by his erstwhile CLP colleagues and associates to gain moral superiority over Labor’s Member for Solomon, Damian Hale, who was similarly in breach of a DVO.
    In other words, Leo Abbott had been judged unlikely to win the seat of Lingiari and so he was expendable in order to enhance the prospects of victory over Labor in Solomon, instead – Leo Abbott was sacrificed towards this goal, which was achieved. This almost became a national game changer, as the Federal elections resulted in a hung parliament.
    What’s very interesting about the Leo Abbott affair in 2010 is that some of the shadowy identities involved in it were also behind the demise of Ian Tuxworth in 1986 – a good quarter of a century beforehand. Others involved in the Leo Abbott affair in 2010 were likewise participants in the abrupt removal of Bob Liddle in October 1989 as the CLP candidate for the seat of the Northern Territory, two decades earlier. Liddle had been dumped on the grounds of an unpaid MasterCard debt of $4000.
    So history shows the CLP has plenty of form on this kind of skullduggery though not always achieving the intended results – for example, Tuxworth fought on as the leader of the NT Nationals until 1990; and Loraine Braham stayed on another two terms as an independent in the seat of Braitling.
    However, if Matt Conlan is now facing a similar situation, I think his position is much more uncertain. He’s likely to come under challenge for preselection as the CLP’s candidate for Greatorex in future; and should he become an independent member for this seat (which would not be setting any precedent, as Denis Collins first held this seat as a conservative independent member) I doubt very much he enjoys sufficient support to retain the seat in the next Territory elections.

  4. Thanks, Alex, for your pertinent historical background. You have a wealth of knowledge in this arena few of us are privy to … I always enjoy your perspectives on what is possible. An Independent Member for Greatorex is one of those.

  5. Criticise a fool and he will hate you forever. Criticise a decent man and he will thank you for your point of view.

  6. In both cases here there seems to be a wish to use so called confidential meetings to attack a person’s credibility.
    In the case of Melky, without a first hand account from an independent source (if you can find one) we probably won’t know what actually went on, there may have been good cause to threaten legal action but we will probably never know.
    In the other situation Lambley and Anderson are using supposedly confidential wing meetings to attack Conlan, there’s a good chance this is for their own agenda and probably for reasons we may never know. The credibility of these claims needs to be questioned as the Speaker, Kezia Purick, would also have been present in the wing meeting and although she’s not usually one to pull her punches, even against her own, she hasn’t said a word.
    It’s a dog act to put the accused into a situation where they are forced to choose between breaching confidentiality and defending themselves, even worse when they don’t put their name to it.

  7. So much conjecture and assumptions. Aggression and personal attacks in confidential meetings. My question is who is running these meetings and where is the voice of others to ensure decency and control are also part of confidentiality.

  8. Is it right for Cr Melky to be accused as he is of things he has said behind the doors of a secret council meeting? No, the accusations against him are no more right than the council is in having these childish secret meetings.
    Council is actually elected to work for the people and as Cr Melky says, there should be more transparency. The man is not a fool and would be one of the few councilors to really try to do what he was elected to do.


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