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HomeIssue 19Three NT Aboriginal women to seek Federal Parliament seats

Three NT Aboriginal women to seek Federal Parliament seats


It is likely that Aboriginal women will occupy the Territory’s two Senate seats with current member Malarndirri McCarthy as the ALP’s number one candidate and Jacinta Price preselected by the Country Liberal Party (CLP) yesterday.

And a third one, Marion Scrymgour (at right), will contest Lingiari held by the ALP’s retiring Warren Snowdon in the House of Representatives.

She will be facing Damien Ryan, who last year failed in his bid for the Territory seat of Araluen, and was also preselected by the CLP in Darwin yesterday.

That means in a historical first the Mayor of Alice Springs (Mr Ryan), and the Deputy Mayor (Cr Price), are leaving local government contest Federal seats.

Ms Scrymgour is the first Aboriginal woman to be elected to the NT Legislative Assembly, representing Arafura from 2001 to 2012. She later became the CEO of the Northern Land Council.

Meanwhile the sitting CLP Senator, Sam McMahon, said in a media release about allegations, levelled in Nine media by un-named politicians, suggesting she was drunk in the chamber: “I remain disappointed at the political attacks which occurred during the week. On Thursday I was diagnosed with quite severe hypertension.

“The symptoms of this treatable condition include fatigue, vertigo, and dizziness.

“I was unwell several times during the week including on Tuesday night and others have chosen to use that for political gain and to link events which should not have been linked. The media has allowed themselves to be manipulated.

“I will continue to represent the people of the Northern Territory in my capacity as Senator, until the next election.

 “In August I expect to introduce legislation which will right a wrong and return the Territory’s right to make democratic decisions.”

In all past Senate elections the CLP and the ALP won one seat each.

IMAGES AT TOP (from left): Cr Price on Sky News yesterday. Malarndirri McCarthy.


  1. In another historical first courtesy of the CLP, outgoing Sam McMahon will be the only NT Senator to serve just one term in office.
    The news from Darwin about the CLP’s preselection of candidates for the Territory’s seats in the forthcoming Federal elections eerily echoes a front page story about the ALP’s preselection of candidates preceding the national election campaign of late 1977.
    The Darwin-based ALP secretary, solicitor John Waters, was chosen to run against the incumbent CLP Member for the Northern Territory, long-serving Alice Springs-based Sam Calder.
    We’ve now got Darwin-based Labor candidate Marion Scrymgour competing against Alice Springs-based CLP candidate Damien Ryan for the seat of Lingiari, currently held by retiring Alice Springs-based Warren Snowdon.
    Here comes the historical twist – the Federal election campaign of 1977 marked the end of the first term of senators for the NT; they were Bernie Kilgariff (CLP) and Ted Robertson (Labor).
    This was the news for Labor’s initial preselection of Senate candidates 44 years ago: “The Labor Party so far is only fielding one candidate for the Senate, sitting Senator Ted Robertson.
    “ALP president in the NT, Mr John Thomas, said a second candidate may be picked later.
    “Mr Waters had been opposed by two candidates in the preselection race.
    “They had been Aboriginal Land Council solicitor Geoff Eames, of Alice Springs, and Katherine agronomist Madjab Aboutaleb.
    “Darwin teacher Warren Snowden [sic] had opposed Senator Robertson for preselection” (“Sitting members to stand again”, Centralian Advocate, 3/11/77).
    So there you have it – after just one term, Warren Snowdon had sought to unseat incumbent NT Labor senator Ted Robertson! How the wheels turn!
    This is the earliest reference I’ve found of Mr Snowdon’s name in a media report.
    He again unsuccessfully sought to unseat Ted Robertson as Labor’s first Senate candidate in 1984 but had to settle for the unwinnable second position.
    In 1987 – a decade after his initial foray – Warren Snowdon won the seat of the Northern Territory, commencing his remarkably long career in Federal politics.
    Ironically, it was that same election campaign that saw Ted Robertson successfully challenged by Bob Collins as Labor’s first senate candidate.
    In regard to the current situation, the Northern Territory faces the reasonable prospect of all four NT seats being won by female candidates at the next federal elections.
    The contest for Lingiari will certainly be one to watch between Marion Scrymgour and Damien Ryan.
    However, I think Solomon will come into play too; especially with the latest ICAC report reverberating in Darwin and Palmerston.
    Commissioner Ken Fleming’s departing gift to the Gunner Government leaves the stench of official corruption hanging over the NT Government, and that’s got implications stretching long into the future.
    It’s hardly going to be helpful for Solomon MP Luke Gosling’s chances on retaining the seat for Labor against CLP candidate Tina MacFarlane, in my opinion.
    Just think – the foul reputation of the Gunner Government might just end up being the make or break of Federal Labor’s chances of winning the next national election campaign.


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