Member for Stuart Scott McConnell says he is “highly likely” to run for Braitling as an Independent in the 2020 election, merely a year away, to take the seat from the party that banished him. ERWIN CHLANDA asked him why.
McCONNELL: The government has no interest in any major project in Central Australia. They are withdrawing funding from regional and remote services. The Chief Minister is talking about borrowing more money to build a ship lift in Darwin Harbour. What the Territory desperately needs is to diversify its economy into the regions, including Alice Springs. There is very little coming out of the CLP for Alice Springs although I share some of their business values. But I don’t see them coming to the fore either.
NEWS: What arrows does the CLP have in its quiver, so far as you know?
McCONNELL: Both parties will come up with ideas they hope will make people vote for them and immediately after the election it will revert to Berrimah Line Darwin-centric initiatives, all the things we’ve suffered through successive governments.
NEWS: If both major parties – so called – score equally well or equally badly, say eight seats each, that would make 16, leaving nine to Independents. It’s not all that different to what we have now, given those who are officially Independent, those who are de-facto Independent, and those who are plotting against Gunner as we speak. How would you operate in an environment of a minority government?
McCONNELL: It’s going to be interesting. Both parties seem to be in quite a depleted state. They are not likely to do well at the 2020 poll.
Mr McConnell says he will run on his reputation of being a tenacious representative of his constituents – a quality he will dedicate to Stuart for the rest of the term, but he has decided he will not stand for Stuart again. He is now responding to numerous requests to take on Braitling and “I am highly likely to run”.
NEWS: If it is eight – eight – nine, that’s when it gets interesting, doesn’t it?
McCONNELL: I think the next government in the NT is going to be minority government. It will be made up of either party and Independents, that is quite clear. There may be benefits for the regions in that outcome. Central Australia needs representation. At the moment our region is not capitalising on the opportunities that are right before our eyes. Indeed a lot of people would be saying we’re going backwards in Central Australia.
NEWS: It seems Independents will get a shot at real power. How would you fit into that?
McCONNELL: It’s too early to forecast. I would work collaboratively and cooperatively with anyone, other Independents, the CLP or Labor, in the best interest of the Territory.
NEWS: Would you make a difference, whoever gets in?
McCONNELL: Yes. Look at my track record. It shows I am the strongest advocate for my constituents. Very early on I realised the Gunner Labor Government had no interest in the regions and remote areas. They were interested in ship lifts in Darwin Harbour. I said we need a minister for regions. I wasn’t listened to. My advocacy has not stopped and my position on most things of substance is exactly the same. Even when I have been dealt a very bad set of cards since being in Parliament I was able to listen to my constituents and learn from them, and go out and prosecute those ideas without fear or favour.
NEWS: How do you get on with Robyn Lambley?
McCONNELL: I enjoy working with her, I get on with her very well, I also enjoy working with Chansey Paech in Namatjira. Unfortunately I have never been able to build a relationship with the current Member for Braitling, Dale Wakefield. She’s failed to deliver anything. She deserves being taken to account for derailing the National Indigenous Art Gallery.