LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Sir – Sandra Nelson (pictured) was narrowly elected to what had once been considered the safest conservative seat in the Legislative Assembly, despite being a Labor candidate.
Sandra stood for election on an anti-fracking platform and received a strong flow of preferences from another candidate with an anti-fracking agenda.
The incumbent MLA at the time strongly supported fracking, a factor that contributed to Labor’s unprecedented victory in the Katherine electorate.
It is generally believed that when the findings of the current hydraulic fracturing inquiry have been handed down, the NT Government will legislate to allow fracking in the Territory, contrary to the wishes of most Territorians.
The Member for Katherine is personally opposed to fracking and played a key role in the introduction of the present moratorium on the contentious process.
She has made it clear however that if legislation is introduced into Parliament to allow the process to be used, she will not cross the floor and vote against her party but would abstain from voting.
While Sandra maintains that she would always support her constituents, it has been pointed out to her that fence sitting would effectively be depriving her constituents of a say on this vital issue.
It has subsequently been revealed that a decision to either ban fracking in the NT or allow the process to be used will not be made by the 25 member Legislative Assembly but by an eight person Labor panel headed by Chief Minister Gunner.
The Member for Katherine, together with nine of her parliamentary colleagues, two CLP MLAs and five Independents will not have a vote on the issue.
It is very likely of course that Gunner will be a goner if his government goes down this undemocratic road.
Sandra was elected to Parliament by the people of Katherine, not by the Labor Party.
She is a loyal person but her loyalty to her constituents will be compromised by the necessity for her to toe the party line in order to stay in good stead with the party. This is failing of our of political system.
Katherine would be best served if we had an independent representative in the Legislative Assembly, someone who is not compelled to put party interests ahead of those of their constituents.
Not since the days when the late Les MacFarlane was our elected representative has Katherine had such person in Parliament. Les was a CLP member of course but he consistently put Katherine interests ahead of party interests.
Katherine needs another Mac.