By ERWIN CHLANDA
Palmer United Party leader Alison Anderson says she would not comment about any coalition with Labor before speaking with her two colleagues, Larisa Lee and Francis Xavier Kurrupuwu.
Ms Anderson (pictured with two of her grandchildren, Jonah and Taj) says Chief Minister Adam Giles rang Mr Xavier yesterday but he did not take the call.
“Did Giles ring because he wants to join PUP? Francis doesn’t take calls from little kids,” Ms Anderson said this morning. “The shambles of a government is still operating in Darwin.”
She was speaking after Dave Tollner failed last night to regain his position of Deputy Leader. Mr Tollner has gone on a two-week break, leaving the future of the Giles Government in limbo.
If the three Palmer United Party (PUP) members enter into a coalition with Labor – overcoming on both sides considerable past animosity – and Mr Tollner returns from leave as an independent, then he and Independent Gerry Wood would hold the balance of power.
If Mr Tollner resigns his seat it is uncertain whether the CLP could retain it in a by-election.
In a media release last night Mr Giles said the Country Liberals’ Parliamentary Wing had chosen Peter Chandler as the new Deputy Chief Minister.
“I am proud to welcome Peter Chandler as my new Deputy. I can also confirm that I threw my own position open and was re-elected as Leader unopposed.
“As Palmerston local member and Lands Minister, Mr Chandler has been working with the Health Minister to identify and deliver the land that the Palmerston Regional Hospital is being built on.
“Cabinet will meet tomorrow where our strategy for Developing Northern Australia will be at the top of the agenda.”
Minister Chandler said it was a great honour to be chosen by his colleagues for the Deputy’s position.
“I look forward to working with the Chief Minister as we focus on the issues that matter to Territorians – driving down the cost of living, developing Northern Australia, improving our education system and keeping our streets safe.”
Meanwhile Opposition Leader Delia Lawrie says the revolving door of CLP Deputy Chief Ministers had resulted in failed Education Minister Peter Chandler replacing Dave Tollner who didn’t show up to the party room meeting.
“Mr Chandler is our fourth Deputy Chief Minister in two years and the CLP is starting to scrape the bottom of the barrel.
“Mr Chandler has botched the Lands and Planning portfolio with his Darwin Area Regional Plan and he’s been a complete failure in Education, pretending 35 teachers were sacked when the real figure is more than 125.
“The CLP remain deeply divided but kept Adam Giles on as Chief Minister until after the Casuarina by-election.”
Ms Lawrie said Adam Giles has the Treasury portfolio because it would have been ludicrous to give it to Mr Chandler who racked up a well publicised personal $100,000 credit card debt.
“You have to wonder why the CLP wing meeting didn’t replace the vacancy in Cabinet. Is it to keep the job open for a Dave Tollner sweetener?
“Why didn’t Dave Tollner attend tonight’s meeting? What’s the next installment of the CLP pantomime!”
By ERWIN CHLANDA