Councillors aspiring to become MLAs should quit now


Sir – The forthcoming by-election for a councillor for the Alice Springs Town Council raises some interesting scenarios.
With the possibility of three positions that we know of at the moment which may need to be filled at a cost of around $80 -$90,000, can the ratepayers be assured that there will not be the need for a further by–election for councillors before the next Northern Territory general election to be held in August 2016?
A look at the existing councillors reveals the possibility that some of them may stand for election in the forthcoming NT Election – which, let’s face it, may be much sooner than the August 2016 deadline.
I congratulate all of the councillors for the way they have kept politics out of the existing council but in a Town Like Alice the political persuasions of our councillors are generally known, and it is a strong possibility if they chose to stand for the Legislative Assembly some would be elected. This would then mean a further council by-election.
I would like all existing councillors to advise the public whether they will or will not be standing in the Northern Territory election. To those councillors who are intending to stand, may I courteously suggest you resign as councillors before the close of nominations for the council by-election. In doing so you may save the ratepayers another $80-$90,000.
David Mortimer
Alice Springs


  1. Why are council aspirants not required to sign that they will serve their full term if elected?
    Family health (for non pre-existing issues) should be the only escape clause.
    People who use our council to expand their political life should not do so at our cost. Certainly I would never vote for any person who left me a bill and headed to “represent me” from Darwin.
    I would hope that many voters agree with my sentiment over their political affiliations.

  2. @ Lachlan J: Who knows if this Giles led Government will last the distance. So I think the question is more than fair. I support every member of our community who believes they wish to make a difference, to stand at the next election, be it local, NT or Federal.
    On Territory politics, I have become increasingly disillusioned with the two party choice. I believe we need independents to lead from the front.
    That said, the current councillors had an original four year term with an election date of March 2016.
    The NT Government, in its wisdom, extended the term by another 18 months without much public consultation. Apparently August 2016 was going to be a busy month clashing with Federal, NT and local govrnment elections.
    For the record, I was the only councillor who voted against that who was present in council. In my opinion to extend a term without an opportunity for the people to have a say, was tantamount to tampering with democracy. The next local government election date will be August 2017.
    I think this is an ideal opportunity to bring the local government elections forward and take advantage of the by-election brought on by the resignation of the former Deputy Mayor Kylie Bonanni.
    This will free up councillors to follow their political ideals, be brave and take opportunity to present themselves to the people at NT or even Federal politics, without the threat of another by election.
    As for me, I will always do what I believe is good for my town, my community and my family.
    If you haven’t noticed, I don’t kiss ass and I don’t fall in line with the status quo. I will always support the right decision, not the popular decision.
    But in answer to your question: I always finish what I start.
    Regards, Eli Melky, Councillor.

  3. With respect to Mr Mortimer, given the current state of Territory politics I believe the heading should have read “MLAs who aspire to become councillors should quit now”. With regard to his observation that some of the current Alice Town councillors may well be elected next Territory election, I suspected a three-legged camp dog would look pretty palatable to voters in many electorates at present.

  4. @ Eli Melky
    Posted July 31, 2015 at 11:32 am
    That might be a good idea, the suggestion we have a general election instead of a by-election.
    If there is room in the Local Government Act to move the next elections out, then surely the same room could be used to move them back in.

  5. There is no need for a by-election if current councillors choose to stand and are then elected in the NT elections in August 2016.
    According to the legislation, if a vacancy occurs within the 12 months before general elections are scheduled, councils may appoint a person to a casual vacancy or leave the position vacant in accordance with its policy.
    The next local government elections are due in August 2017.
    NT elections are fixed term and a whole set of scenarios and procedures would have to take place if we are to go to an early NT election. I suggest reading Antony Green’s excellent blog for more on this.
    And it would be highly unlikely for the Giles Government to not go the distance, given the public statements of support from Kezia Purick and Gerry Woods.
    So what would happen is, an interested councillor would nominate as a candidate when the writs are called – this is 20 days before the election date so would be August 7. The councillor would stand aside for the formal election period and would recommence their council role if unsuccessful. If successful, the council could appoint someone to fill the space or leave it vacant.
    And to contend that the “purity” of local government should somehow not be sullied by political aspirants is ludicrous. Whether they are Conservative, Green, Labor or Independent they are playing a role in our third tier of government, part of our political process. The Conservative members of our council regularly vote in a bloc.


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