Independents now ineffective?


p2064-Steve-Brown-130LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Sir – I am writing with some confusion and concern in regards to the presently advocated position of  local MLA Robyn Lambley and Member for Blain Terry Mills, around the formation of a new NT political party.
My confusion and concern revolve round their election campaigns when the public were assured that they could be effective as independents.
Apparently both Robyn and Terry have now reached the conclusion that this is not the case. Are they now freely, publicly declaring themselves to be ineffective?
2594 Robyn Lambley 1 OKWhile I was running against Robyn as the CLP candidate for Araluen, I argued specifically against Robyn’s election on the very basis that she “could not be” an effective MLA for Araluen as an independent.
Now we have both Robyn (at left) and Terry apparently expecting Territorians and political parties to make them more effective reps, by either welcoming them back to the CLP or joining them in the formation of another political party.
I believe this is a continuation of the same self-centred personal outcome orientated politics, all about themselves as opposed to the interests of the electorate. This is what destroyed the previous CLP Government, of which these two were amongst the worst offenders!
I believe recent statements regarding the formation of another party by MLAs who ran as independents constitute  a  clear breach of the Electoral Act which requires candidates to either represent a registered party, declaring that fact, or being an independent with no party affiliations.
I believe it would be a breach to run as a party affiliated independent.
Surely that rule must apply both before and after the process of election.
There should be an investigation launched by the Electoral Office and if a breach is found, these seats should be declared vacant.
But why wait for all of that? In view of their stated ineffectiveness, I call on both, in the better interest of their respective electorates, to resign from the Parliament forthwith, triggering by-elections so the electorates can make their own judgements about the political affiliations of their elected MLAs.
Perhaps this would clear the way to electing either a stronger government or a more effective Opposition, by their own choice.
Steve Brown (pictured at top)
Alice Springs


  1. Alice Springs has a long tradition of CLP members becoming independent representatives, starting with Rod Oliver (Member for Alice Springs) who lost preselection to Denis Collins in 1980; Denis Collins (Member for Sadadeen) who in turn lost preselection to Shane Stone in 1987 and was twice re-elected as an independent; and likewise Loraine Braham (Member for Braitling) who lost CLP preselection in 2000 but went on to win two subsequent campaigns.
    One might include Ray Hanrahan (Member for Flynn) who resigned from the CLP in mid 1988 and continued as an independent for about three months before his resignation from politics. By the standards outlined by Steve Brown, Hanrahan took the honourable course but the subsequent by-election on September 10, 1988, didn’t work out too well for the CLP – the party came last out of three candidates with a swing of over 21% against it, and it was CLP preferences that enabled NT Nationals candidate Enzo Floreani to take the seat.
    And then there was Alison Anderson (Member for MacDonnell) who resigned from the ALP and ricocheted from the CLP to Palmer United Party to independent (I forget the exact order).
    One can go back over half a century, when independent Member for Alice Springs, Colonel Lionel Rose, announced in the NT Legislative Council in August 1965 that he was the leader of a new political party, the North Australia Party – and he was strongly supported by Non-Official Member, Bernie Kilgariff, who worked in close association with Rose.
    The NAP didn’t last very long – it was wiped out in the elections of October 1965, with only one candidate, Tony Greatorex, winning the seat of Stuart. Greatorex, in turn, joined the Country Party when it was established in July 1966.
    Whatever one may personally think about elected members changing their allegiances while in office, there’s never been a legal case against anybody (and that goes for other parliaments, too) obliging a sitting member to resign because they’ve changed their minds about party memberships. It’s up to voters to decide their fates whenever elections are called.

  2. It seems the independents are being a lot more effective in standing up for their community than either the government or the so called opposition.

  3. The majority of people who live in the Araluen electorate were clearly not impressed at the last NT election with any of the political party candidates, and so voted overwhelmingly for Robyn Lambley.
    Not very confusing at all.
    One can hardly call the two members representing the CLP in the current NT Legislative Assembly as effective. By sheer weight of numbers, they have been proven time and time again as completely ineffective.
    Robyn has taken the fight right up to the current Chief Minister and his government, which is far more than what the current two person Opposition has done.
    On the same basis of your argument in this article, should the two members of the CLP resign as opposition due to being so ineffective and allow the resources to be shared with the five Independents who can collectively offer a stronger opposition?
    I think yes.

  4. Alex, as always the history is interesting and I’m quite sure no one will be volunteering to depart on this occasions either, however the point that I am making is that it is no longer allowable to run as a party associated independent and given that fact how can anyone lawfully “become” a party associated “independent” while in Office?
    Then of course there is the fact that these people have portrayed themselves as independents and were elected on that basis.
    Basic honesty and decency would say that they remain independent or go back to the people.
    Eli … well if anyone was going to approve of directionless political flip flopping with your track record, it would be yourself. You might want to note however, that a bit of noise in the media is not effective opposition, its called grandstanding!
    Further to that, it was not me that made the call on the ineffectiveness or otherwise of both Terry and Robyn as MLAs.
    They have done that themselves, loudly and clearly in the media! I am simply picking up on their stated ineffectiveness, asking if they consider themselves ineffective, surely we, the electorate, should do the same.
    Further to all of that, in the Territory Parliament the official Opposition has to come from a registered party. And candidates for registered parties have to declare themselves as such in the election process.
    I am questioning the legality of making the switch after being elected, because it could be construed that it was always their intention, therefore throwing into doubt they were ever independent.
    I think the electorates are also entitled to ask, are independents turning on the official Opposition instead of concentrating whatever energy and resources they have, on holding the Government to account. Is that effective opposition?

  5. I’m about 50% with Steve on this one. If a candidate wins office running under a political party’s banner and accepts support from them in volunteers and funds, then I think a case can be made for them to resign and a by-election to be held.
    Many voters vote for a party, and to pocket their votes and then change smacks of fraud, of “bait and switch”.
    But an Independent? They made no promise to any established political entity. Why would they not be free to form this or that group? The next election will show what the electorate thinks of it.

  6. The times are a changing. History will show that the current political landscape of Alice Springs and the Territory is changing for ever before our eyes. The days of being restricted to a choice between a @ Steve Brown: CLP or ALP representation are fast coming to an end.
    The people are far more politically astute and have had enough of this old and broken system that you offer.
    It may suit those who have been long entrenched in that type of system and know nothing else.
    From time to time some including you, bravely venture outside it, only to find themselves quickly back in the fold.
    I have lost touch of how many times you have re-joined the CLP. However I am pleased to say I am not one of those who bow to a broken system.
    I will be working to build a great future for Alice Springs and the Territory, joining forces with likeminded members of our community, and there are many of us.
    Hanging on to an old and broken political party that has been reduced to two MLAs is your choice, at least have the decency to accept that the community has made its choice, clearly it was Robyn Lambley. Time to move on.

  7. To suggest a potential candidate is “no longer allowable to run as a party associated independent” appears breach principles of democracy in elections.
    Such restricting claims upon candidates and elected representatives need be resolved by the High Court.
    Candidates stand as natural persons, chosen by voters where they stand for election.
    Why each candidate obtains voter preferences is a matter for each voter to decide.
    Individual candidates when elected retain right to change their mind, their political affiliations, whenever they wish.
    Elected members are judged by their voters at each election, not by others they may or may not be associate with.

  8. Robyn Lambley is awesome for Alice Springs.
    A kind, fair, yet strong female voice, standing up for the people of Alice Springs.
    The current political party in power appears to pointedly ignore voices if they come from anywhere south of the Berrimah Line. Stand up and be heard Robyn!
    At least someone is getting us back on the map.


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