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CLP: Reform, new party or branch of Liberal Party?

p2350 election night 1By ERWIN CHLANDA
Try and resurrect the CLP, start a new conservative party, or form a branch of the Liberal Party – those seem to be the options for the Country Liberals after last night’s election massacre that is set to leave the party with three seats out of 25.
AT RIGHT: Dale Wakefield who may unseat Chief Minister Adam Giles, Scotty McConnell who trounced Bess Price in Stuart and Adam Findlay, whose preferences got Independent Robyn Lambley over the line in Araluen.
So says Steve Brown who contested and lost Araluen, in the party’s heartland, where it was created 1974.
Araluen has never been anything but CLP, and if former Chief Minister Adam Giles loses the only other urban seat in The Centre, Braitling, which is on the cards, then the annihilation of the party in its birthplace will be complete as the two bush seats around the town have gone to Labor.
The significance of this was echoed by Labor Federal Member for Lingiari Warren Snowdon, taking charge of stage managing last night’s ALP election night party.
He said the events in the Top End were predictable but the “the most influential change in Northern Territory politics is going to be defeating the CLP in Alice Springs, and defeating the CLP in Katherine. These are the stories that need to be highlighted. First time ever. First time ever.”
Mr Brown says: “It’s early days. I have to think about it carefully.
“We have to get better at promoting our own people. We have not been good at getting local people with local knowledge, history and background into Parliament.
“There are conservative people in Alice Springs. They need to be represented.
“Perhaps it should be more difficult to become a candidate. We have to find a way.”
p2350 election 4Mr Brown, a member of a large pioneering family whose patriarch, Jim, was a founding member of the CLP, says “blow-ins” who want to use the political system in the NT to create their own careers are to blame for the disaster last night.
AT LEFT: CLP supporters at the election night party.
One might think that is a reference to Mr Giles whom he formerly threw his weight behind, and whose accomplishments for Alice Springs he still supports.
Mr Brown takes aim instead at CLP figures in the Top End have been “fighting with each-other to position themselves for after the election. The party has been hijacked by the north. It’s time for a better way.”
“Terry Mills, at the core of all the dissension in the fist place, wangled his way back in, not listening. And we are preselecting the wrong people, acting like movie stars.
“In a vacuum like this every lunatic comes out to have a go. They don’t care for the community, only themselves. We need a stable group of people.”
Significantly, the sitting Member for Araluen, Robyn Lambley, who was first elected as a CLP member, chose to become an Independent during the internal strife that, at least in part, has triggered this thrashing.  She won last night with preferences from Labor’s Adam Findlay.
Labor’s Chansey Paech is set to win Namatjira, having enjoyed campaign support from retiring Member, Independent Alison Anderson who had also won the seat in 2012 as a CLP candidate (having first stood for Labor). Scott McConnnell trounced the CLP’s Bess Price to regain Stuart for the ALP.
Dale Wakefield is narrowly ahead of Mr Giles in Braitling – too close to call last night. The count resumes in Monday.
Despair set in around 8pm at the CLP election night party, held in the Alice in the Territory hotel on Stephens Road: people talked in small groups, watching disconsolately the ABC’s comprehensive coverage which by then was giving Labor the win. Some were already starting to leave.
p2350 election x 450 12Mr Paech (centre, photo at left) organised his electorate’s own party at AJ’s Tavern in The Gap, outdoors, with mostly family members and Aboriginal people present, in high spirits. They posed for photos while behind them Mr Giles conceded defeat.
They paid little attention to Mr Giles’ claims: “We’ve done a lot in the last four years, a lot of restructuring from an economic point of view. I think the Territory will grow and prosper much more for all that we have done.”
To the CLP he said: “We will rebuild, we will come back cohesively, we will remove the disagreements, we will remove the personalities of politics, we will come back bigger and better because one thing is for sure, Labor can’t manage the economy, Labor can’t manage law and order, and Territorians one day in the future will call upon us to take leadership.
“The Territory is in a better place” now than in 2012, claimed Mr Giles before – bizarrely – toasting his resounding defeat.
The ALP’s main festivities were at the RSL, with Mr Snowdon arranging corflutes and supporters in red T-shirts as backdrops for the cameras, and then speaking at length. Ms Wakefield, Mr McConnell and Mr Findlay spoke only briefly.
Even if Mr Giles regains his seat, observers say he is unlikely to be content with being in a Parliamentary wing of three.
A comment from CLP Senator Nigel Scullion, who was on the ABC’s election broadcast panel, may have been a hint. He said Mr Giles is “not only a mate I think he’s but a remarkable individual. Whatever happens tonight I think we’ll see a lot more of him in the public space in Australia”.
There has recently been speculation that Senator Scullion may resign from Parliament and Mr Giles may be appointed in his place.
But Senator Scullion also said last night: “If you can’t preselect people who are prepared to stay the course on behalf of their constituency rather than making decisions about popularity half way through … we’re going to have to look very closely at that process because that process has certainly let us down.”
And the chances of the CLP – should it survive – of giving Mr Giles another go seem slim.


  1. It would be a risky strategy by the Federal Liberals to endorse Giles being parachuted into Scullion’s senate spot.
    The next Federal election will be a rout anyway, and the knives wielded by voters may be unsheathed again for Giles a second time.
    Clearly the NT has spoken, they do not want Giles representing them.
    Do they want to give Labor two Federal senators?

  2. If Adam Giles is re-elected he will no longer need to point in Parliament when using his favorite taunt “Unlike those Opposite,” as all of them will be opposite him.

  3. Good on you CLP, keep Giles on and get another flogging next election if CLP still exists. It seems CLP has still not got the message.

  4. I think it says a lot about the current and future state of the CLP that if the returned Independents Lambley, Purick and maybe Mills choose to rejoin the party that Giles’ leadership caused them to leave, the CLP’s numbers in the new Assembly will double.

  5. Steve Brown, the “blow in” is right in your face. It is Adam Giles. Not just the Top End mob only for this flogging. You have the courage, so point the finger in the right direction and get rid of him.

  6. Correct, Today, re “blow in Giles right in front of your face”.
    None of them, including Steve Brown, would believe Giles was bad for Alice, and the Territory before the election.
    Maybe now that Giles’s so called leadership has resulted in massive wipe out, some eyes and ears maybe clean.
    Giles: First Alice Springs Chief Minister to lead the Clp to it’s wipeout in it’s first term. The NT’s first, historic one term wonder. What a disaster this individual is.

  7. Wasted votes on the CLP. Let’s face it, the “old locals” who know it all are merely legends in their own lunch boxes, big fish in a small vulnerable town.
    Four years ago the last thing the town needed was more hot air and social tension.
    But the CLP, with their local wisdom rallied as many “old local” and “blow-in” votes with the old tough on crime and blame Labor, blame Green, blame “Southerners” rubbish.
    You had your chance to do something, you had access and control of billions of dollars of resources, you had the lives of Territorians in your hand and you squandered it, mocked it and blew it from day one.
    You and still haven’t reflected or shown any humility to your failings to the people who trusted you.
    The CLP is dead in the eyes and hearts of people who really love the Territory, not just their little group of back slapping mates.
    Wake up, the world is watching, the past is the past.
    The original people of this land and the blow-ins just sent you conservative Territorians a very strong message: If you want to be part of the future of this Territory you’d better become a bit more adaptable to change and open to sharing and caring. But it’s your choice, CLP mob.

  8. @ Alice Tradie: True comments. The CLP, the Territory’s “own party” so they said, believed they actually owned the Territory.
    They governed how they pleased for too long. The worst of it in the last four years.
    The CLP don’t own the NT, Territory people do and finally, finally, that was made clear at this election.
    I hope the seats of Braitling and Katherine go to Labor.
    This notion of CLP ownership of the NT and like it or lump it style of politics needs to be knocked on the head for good.
    I am a Territorian of many generations from an old family and don’t believe any political party can think the NT just belongs to them or their followers.


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