Saturday, July 13, 2024

The freedom of the press still furnishes that check upon government which no constitution has ever been able to provide – Chicago Tribune.

HomeIssue 27UPDATE: Paterson becomes Mayor by two votes.

UPDATE: Paterson becomes Mayor by two votes.


Matt Paterson held on to his winning margin by two votes and will be formally declared as the town’s new mayor tomorrow.

This followed a re-count requested by Jimmy Cocking who was 17 votes behind Paterson this morning.

An electoral Commission official says in the re-count there were no “major areas” found, just minor mistakes which are “normal and understandable”.

It is not unusual that fresh staff will detect minor reasons that can make a vote informal.

There are no further recounts scheduled although candidates and voters have 21 days to request another recount.

“They would have to have very good reasons,” says the official.


EARLIER RPORT Sept 11: Primary vote winner Cocking demands re-count as margin is just 17 votes.


Jimmy Cocking, the candidate for Mayor with by far the highest first preference vote, says he will be demanding a re-count after Matt Paterson was declared winner tonight.

Paterson is just 17 votes in front after the distribution of preferences from the third-place getter in the primary vote count, Eli Melky.

About two-thirds of the preferences from people voting for Mr Melky went to Mr Paterson.

Overall turn out for the 2021 elections was 61.4%. From a total of 130,461 electors who were eligible, 80,112 turned out.

Electoral Commissioner Iain Loganathan said the final figure shows that too many electors remain disengaged with democracy: “People only get one chance every four years to have their say in local government elections and it’s a pity that more electors don’t take the opportunity.

“The more people vote, the more our councils and governing bodies become representative of our society.”

UPDATE Sept 11, 9.45am

The recount has been confirmed.


  1. According to yesterday’s NT News, Mr Paterson beat Mr Cocking by just nine votes. Yet how come the Alice Springs News states 17 votes? Yes a recount is needed. Although I don’t know it will make any difference. Only time will tell.

  2. Isn’t a recount automatic because of how close the call is? Not sure if it was demanded.
    [ED – Yes, it was. By Mr Cocking.]

  3. @ Zac: Haven’t read the NT News report but the NT Electoral Commission table of distribution of preferences for Alice Springs mayor shows Jimmy Cocking fell nine votes short of the quota required to win. So maybe that’s where the confusion lies.
    The same table clearly shows Matt Paterson’s final figure was 17 votes ahead of Jimmy Cocking.
    Incidentally, it’s not the first time that 17 votes made the reported difference between two prominent candidates in Alice Springs: “In the biggest upset in Northern Territory’s political history Mr Charlie Orr has defeated the founder and leader of the North Australia Party in the Legislative Council elections.
    “After electoral officers had recounted votes for the Alice Springs seat for five hours and forty minutes Mr Orr was leading by 17 votes. And with only seven votes [postal] left to count these could not possibly affect the result” (Centralian Advocate, 18/11/1965).
    This was a turning point in the NT’s political history – the incumbent Member for Alice Springs, Colonel Lionel Rose, was narrowly defeated by Labor candidate Charlie “Chas” Orr.
    It was to prove Labor’s last hurrah in Alice Springs for half a century – out of the ashes of Rose’s North Australia Party rose the Country Party, later to become the CLP that would dominate Territory politics for almost three decades.
    Maybe something similar is happening again in Alice Springs, another political turning point.

  4. When the government teaches citizens to be disengaged from democracy by making decisions un-democratically (e.g. the Singleton Gift, destruction of Anzac High, compulsory acquisition of the Oval, closed meetings), citizens learn to stop voting for the government.
    I am sure the Electoral Commissioner knows this basic fact of democracy, thus he blames the citizens while pretending his government is infallible as the Pope.

  5. For the runaway winner on first preferences to lose to another candidate after preferences were counted shows the sharply divided opinion of Jimmy Cocking.
    He has strong support from some ratepayers but is clearly not supported by many others.
    That could be problematic for a mayor who needs to break though the factions and muster strong support in council to get things done.
    Matt Paterson ran on a much less ambitious agenda but a down to earth one that would get community and council support.
    I see Matt Paterson’s tentative victory as a big step forward for our town.

  6. Matt should be a great Mayor, very humble bloke who seems to understand that the role is more about judging cakes at Senior Citz, than locking up kids.

  7. @ Watchn: Yes that’s right, Matt didn’t try to pretend that the position of Mayor had the power of a Chief Minister.
    Others did.
    They said that under their leadership, the Council could drive the local economy, it could alleviate Aboriginal poverty, operate a curfew for unaccompanied kids and have complete control over council operations.
    Matt’s honesty with ratepayers has been rewarded.

  8. I think Matt will be a great Mayor.
    I just hope now the new council will ask the CEO why there is 40 key positions vacant in council. May be worth the local media asking this question also.

  9. Congratulations Matt Patterson on your democratic election to Mayor of Alice Springs. The people have spoken.
    If my memory serves me right, both Mayoral candidates gave their word on ABC Radio two days ago, that they would accept the outcome of the recount. However, now one of you is reconsidering? Not a good example Jimmy. Just cutting your hair doesn’t actually make any difference to the vote, or the final recount result.
    As a ratepayer, I now look forward to a new look Alice Springs Town Council; hopefully with all elected members working together, towards the same goals, for the betterment of our town.
    Let’s work on getting our good townsfolk safely back into the community, to take back our beautiful town. There are many ways we can do this starting with better lighting in CBD. There are so many great businesses in the CBD that we would love to support in the evenings.
    Local Government is the 3rd tier of Government; not the first and not the 2nd!
    Amongst other things, local government legislation provides for beautification of our town; it provides for tightening of dog legislation; it provides for the 3 Rs, including roads, rates and rubbish; and should provide for more transparent information to ratepayers.
    We don’t forget the wrongs of the 13th Council: we have a wonderful recycling station by any standards in Australia, let’s use the reserves for what they were intended!
    Time to stop wasting ratepayers money on knee jerk solutions which are not our core business, or more recounts, or other things which need not be funded by us. It’s time to get to work people, time is a wasting!

  10. Felicitations to our new Mayor and then to all you candidates spending energy, time and money to serve our community.

  11. @ Sandy Taylor: Whilst I agree wholeheartedly with your hopes for the town’s future, I think it unfair to take personal swipes at Jimmy, particularly as he scored the highest number of primary votes and lost by only two votes in a legal and legitimate re-count.
    Matt Paterson has the potential to be a great mayor for Alice Springs, especially if he can resist the “winner takes all” sentiments others will be expressing and instead responds to the needs and wishes of everyone in the community including, yes, Jimmy’s supporters.
    Local councils in the NT may not have the powers or budgets of our state / territorian or Federal governments, but it is the tier closest to the people on the ground and, as such, is best placed to recognise and advocate for their interests, well beyond the oft-touted “rates, roads and rubbish”.
    Council already provides many amenities that respond to the needs of all in the community, in addition to the 3-Rs: parks for recreation; libraries for readers; ovals for sporting activities; car-parking for drivers; toilets for those caught short; benches for the tired; water fountains for the thirsty; exercise equipment for fitness; tree planting for a cooler town; etc, etc.
    If anything, that list of amenities needs to be extended, to include our town’s youth, our homeless and the most vulnerable in our community.
    If Council does not take the lead on local issues, who will? Or should we continue to expect Darwin to do it for us?

  12. I’m hearing that Mayor Paterson thinks that Jimmy Cocking’s legal fees in his appeal to NTCAT should be paid by ratepayers.
    I do not agree.
    There has already been two counts and Jimmy lost both.
    Legal representation is not essential for an appeal to NTCAT and I am sure that Jimmy is well capable of stating his case.

  13. Totally agree with Jon and Sandy.
    Good to see we have a local lad in as Mayor and not a “blow in” who came to Alice 10 years ago protesting to close Pine Gap!


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