By MARK J SMITH
Opposition Leader Gary Higgins (at right), 65, will step down on February 1, endorsing Lia Finocchiaro as his successor.
He said on Twitter he will serve the rest of the term supporting her and working for the electorate of Daly.
However, he will not be standing again for Daly in the election later this year: “My reasons for resigning the role are personal, suffice to say I have had a number of health issues recently which need attending and I cannot effectively serve as Opposition Leader while addressing those issues.
“Thank you to all those who have supported me and my family during my time as a Parliamentarian – it has been a privilege to serve.”
Mr Higgins served in the Giles Cabinet from 2015 as Minister for Sport and Recreation, Senior Territorians, the Environment, and junior roles assisting the Minister for Arts and Museums.
After working in the public service, he bought the Daly River Mango Farm, a mango orchard and tourist park.
Thirty-five-year-old Lia Finocchiaro (at left) is the only other CLP member of Parliament.
She has been the member for Spillett since winning with 56% of the primary vote in 2016. Spillett covers the northern areas of Darwin and Palmerston. She had served as the Member for Drysdale from 2012.
She joined the Mills Ministry in March 2013 aged 28, the youngest minister in Territory history.
Born in the Northern Territory and growing up in Palmerston she studied law and international studies at the University of Adelaide. Returning to Darwin in 2008 she was admitted as a legal practitioner in the Northern Territory, commencing work at the Clayton Utz law firm.
If re-elected Ms Finocchiaro will be the only CLP member with any Parliamentary experience.
The change of leader may create a fresh start for the CLP, but also gives a head start to parties like Territory Alliance and Ban Fracking, Fix Crime and Protect Water.
This changing of the guard may also create opportunities for any new CLP member who can win a seat in August, to step up, including Alice Springs Mayor Damien Ryan who is standing in Araluen.
CLP candidates may also have to step up during the campaign in shadow ministerial type roles, but from outside of the Parliament, in the style of former Queensland Premier Campbell Newman, who served as Opposition Leader without being a Parliamentarian before 2015, before becoming Premier.
With the retirement of Tasmanian Liberal Premier Will Hodgman last week, that is two Liberals leaders to stand down in less than a week.
To lose one conservative leader may be regarded as bad luck. To lose two looks like bad management.
UPDATE 3.45 pm
Ms Ms Finocchiaro said in a media statement that she was dispelling “some Labor myths” by committing that “an elected CLP Government will keep Power Water, Territory Generation and Jacana Energy in public hands and will fix residential power and water prices at 2020 levels for four years.
“No Government assets will be sold or leased.
“I also have a clear message for Public Servants – your jobs are safe with a CLP Government. My promise to you is that you are valued, respected and essential.
“Only a CLP Government understands that the local private sector is the lifeblood of our economy.
“Everything government does should support and grow our collective opportunity and prosperity.
“My government will deliver a shared vision and partnership between government and the private sector.”
Higgins to step down as Opposition Leader
By MARK J SMITH