TIO sale: Hip pocket vote may loom


p2167-EveringhamCOMMENT by ALEX NELSON
A recent editorial comment in relation to the NT Government’s sale of TIO stating “people overwhelmingly vote with their hip pockets” reminded me of two prominent examples that changed the course of Territory politics years ago.
Some may recall the enormous public backlash against the Hatton CLP government in mid 1987 following the decision to change conditions of employment for NT public servants. The CLP argued its hand was forced due to financial constraints imposed by a hostile Federal Labor government but this didn’t wash with furious protestors that jostled CLP politicians on the steps of the old Legislative Assembly.
The CLP’s timing from a political perspective (I was a party member) couldn’t have been worse as the Hawke government went to the polls in July that year. New CLP senator Grant Tambling had to rely on the distribution of preferences from all eight other senate candidates to be elected, and Labor’s Warren Snowdon took the federal seat of the NT, previously held by retired CLP leader Paul Everingham. Everingham famously declared that if he had stood again as the CLP candidate he would have “punched the Chief Minister’s head in” because of the public service controversy.
Warren Snowdon has since gone on to set the record as the NT’s longest-serving Federal member, and now has two years to go to equal Bernie Kilgariff’s record as the Territory’s longest-serving politician.
People voted with their hip pockets again in the NT elections of 1990 but this time it was Federal government policy that aided the CLP.
Earlier that year the CLP faced the prospect of its first defeat at the polls, and Chief Minister Marshall Perron was under enormous pressure.
I unexpectedly found myself as one of two CLP candidates for the seat of Stuart in the election campaign of October 1990, which included part of Alice Springs previously within the Braitling electorate.
During my doorknocking I found that crippling high interest rates for homeowners and businesses was overwhelmingly the major concern of voters. It was the Federal Labor government under PM Bob Hawke that was responsible for this situation but there’s no doubt that frustrated Territorians punished the NT ALP for it.
The CLP pulled a rabbit out of the hat leading to another decade in power. Marshall Perron went on to set the record as the NT’s longest-serving Chief Minister and the only one to retire from politics on his own terms.
These lessons have long been forgotten by the current CLP government.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the foundation of the CLP in Alice Springs. There is a looming irony that the first Chief Minister from Alice Springs may end up being responsible for the demise of “The Territory Party”.
Will the sale of TIO again trigger a hip pocket vote? COMMENT by ALEX NELSON.


  1. Great piece Alex. Some memories there.
    I spoke with Marshall again just last month, as you highlight, he was a leader. Therein lies the problem. The “new generation CLP” have no respect, understanding or character traits of or for CLP DNA or brand.
    This fundamentaly is the party’s error in preselection the members we currently have.
    Like any recruitment process, had they checked Giles background in both party dealings and failed election attempts interstate, he’s character traits would have clearly been highlighted.
    But then, good old Jodeen Carney had her hand in his preselection, say no more.
    Conlan, well, you just had to hear his ideological rubbish on radio, offering no depth or solutions to understand his mindset (nothing has changed there to date).
    And again, suprise suprise, Jodeen Carney had a hand in his preselection too. Jodeen has nicely been rewarded for this with her CEO job in Darwin.
    Yet her performance due to lack of experience shows, just read yesterday’s media. Interestingly, Jodeen Carney wasn’t too keen on Lambley – leading up to her preselection, yet look at who’s actually doing some work.
    Your last paragraph sums it up well Alex. Adam Giles will be responsible for the demise of the “Territory Party”.
    Adam Giles will go down as the first one term government in NT history and Adam Giles is the one who ruined and destroyed the hard work Terry Mills (love him or hate him) did with many loyal and dedicated party members – Territory wide – to bring the CLP back from just three seats.
    The only problem after August 2016 the CLP party will have, is all the loyal long term party members – Territory wide – have either been burnt along the way by Giles and Co, or walked away is disgust.
    So what will the brand have to work with to recover, yet again?
    The new so called Giles-picked CLP President? … Please. Yet another blow-in for themselves with no CLP DNA. Having full knowledge that people like Giles, Conlan, Carney, will simply move back interstate.
    Unfortunately the Territory Party is no longer.

  2. You’ve highlighted the major flaws of the current CLP crowd, Sean. However, the roots of the CLP’s ideological malaise lie with the party’s resurgence in the early 1990s.
    After its emphatic victory in 1990, the CLP came to be viewed as invincible in Territory politics and therefore became highly attractive to certain individuals who perceived opportunities [to pursue their own agendas].
    This came very much to the fore in June 1994 when the CLP (under Marshall Perron) increased its majority to 17 members, including six new members elected for the first time.
    Of these, only one – Dr Richard Lim, the Member for Greatorex – had an extensive track record of involvement in the CLP, dating back to the early 1980s.
    Yet there had been a situation akin to a civil war in the local CLP branches of Alice Springs leading up to his preselection as a candidate, let alone running as one.
    Who were some of the others that had a dream run into entering politics? Well, there was Dennis Burke, who ultimately as Chief Minister led the CLP to its first two election losses, and then there was Peter Adamson …
    It was the CLP’s tendency to look for candidates that had no significant political expertise or longterm party commitment that became the Achilles Heel of the party. I warned of this in my letter of resignation in March 1995.

  3. It takes a lot to get me to comment on an article, but I will on this one. Alice has been snubbed and with Alice we have a preventable disaster pending with no flood protection! Come on CLP how about something for Alice? You face political disaster if Alice floods you realise?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here