Convention ignored in vote on Opposition


A couple of hours is a long time in the current ‘anything goes’ Territory politics.
At 4.17pm yesterday we published a story quoting Deputy Opposition Leader Robyn Lambley saying Chief Minister Michael Gunner was delaying disclosure of vital fiscal facts to after the August election, keeping voters in the dark.
Terry Mills and Robyn Lambley no longer heading up the Opposition.
At 8.14pm Mrs Lambley was no longer the Deputy Opposition Leader, and Terry Mills no longer the Opposition Leader: The Labor and CLP Members of the Legislative Assembly, ignoring tradition and Solicitor General advice, had just re-instated the CLP’s Lia Finocchiaro as the Opposition Leader, a position she herself had held only since February 1.
Mrs Finocchiaro’s CLP has two Members in Parliament. The Territory Alliance has three since Mrs Lambley joined a week ago.
Later last night Mrs Lambley commented to the Alice Springs News: “Only in the NT can two beat three.
“The collusion in the Chamber between the CLP, the ALP and the Speaker was nothing short of disgusting.
“For three years we have been working off the 2017 advice given to the government by the NT Solicitor General.
“Tonight the Speaker changed the rules.”
Mrs Lambley said the email from Michael Tatham, Clerk of the Legislative Assembly, advising of the changes “almost sounds apologetic and embarrassed”.
This is the text: “Dear Territory Alliance Members, as you are aware, tonight the Northern Territory Assembly departed from previous practice and convention and determined that the political party represented in the Assembly which has the most Members after the Government party is not to be the Opposition for the remainder for the 13th Assembly.
“Noting the content of the motion passed and the subsequent ballot, it is my duty to implement the outcome of the resolution of the Assembly.
“As a consequence, additional  salaries of office assigned to Territory Alliance Members in their capacity as Opposition until tonight, will cease from tonight.
“Logistics around office arrangements will also have to revert in coming days,” wrote Mr Tatham.
“I note that the various authorities within the House of Representatives Practice (7th Edition)  and Erskine May (25th Edition) concerning who is normally considered to be the Opposition have not been followed in the Legislative Assembly.
“This is a matter for the Assembly itself, and while the terms of the motion passed specified this outcome applies only to the 13th Assembly, it no doubt creates a precedent for this jurisdiction which might be of interest in future Assemblies.”
Mrs Finocchiaro said in a media release “the vote puts the issue to rest”.
“It’s also a fact,” she said, “that the CLP received nearly 32% of the primary vote at the last election, well above any other political party, other than the Government.”


  1. I’m instantly reminded of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four in which the state determines what we can believe, giving the example that 2+2=5. When the Party controls all perceptions, whatever it chooses to be the rule becomes a fact.
    In 2011 I wrote this limerick:
    In 1948 Eric Blair wrote his finest final story
    About a regime of deception, so premonitory
    Better known as George Orwell
    His “1984” did foretell
    The contemporary history of the Northern Territory.

  2. I thought Territory Alliance seemed a reasonable alternative until they employed Delia Lawrie as a chief policy adviser.
    Having blown their chances with this bombshell, it probably doesn’t matter whether they’re the official opposition or not.


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