Northern Territory election minus nine days
A quick review of the main happenings on the Northern Territory campaign trail. Further background is available from my seat-by-seat election guide.
• The Northern Territory News has gone on the attack over Labor’s handling of the revelation that one of its candidates had a spent conviction for assault. The candidate in question is Ken Vowles, who has been charged with the crucial task of defending the marginal northern Darwin seat of Johnston after the retirement of sitting member Chris Burns. On Monday, the News learned that Vowles had received a fine and a community service order for assault causing bodily harm over an incident involving his “then-girlfriend’s lover” when he was 21 (he is now 40). At issue was a law prohibiting publication of spent minor convictions after 10 years without the offender’s consent. Editor Matt Cunningham says Paul Henderson’s deputy chief-of-staff initially threatened that action would be taken under the law if the paper ran the story, but that Vowles’s consent was later forthcoming after he threatened to run a front page empty but for the word “censored”. Henderson says that he had advised Vowles to offer his consent as soon as he became aware of the matter at around 8pm, which Cunningham says was half-an-hour before the threat of legal action was made.
• It also emerged last week that Peter Rudge, an independent candidate for the equally important Darwin seat of Nightcliff, served 18 months in jail for manslaughter in 1996 over an incident which the court found was “close to self-defence”. Paul Henderson said at the time that he would consider legislative change to require candidates to publicly disclose any criminal history.
• Nigel Adlam of the Northern Territory News and Malcolm Mackerras in The Australian have tipped identical outcomes: Labor to retain government by nabbing a thirteenth seat in Sanderson, amid an otherwise status quo result. Mackerras doesn’t elaborate, but Adlam goes all the way with tips for who will and won’t increase their majority. Of Sanderson, Adlam says Labor’s Jodie Green is “dynamic and energetic”, whereas CLP incumbent Peter Styles “hasn’t done himself any favours by badmouthing Mr Mills in the community”. More broadly, Adlam says the oil and gas boom is being well managed, and voters will hesitate to hand power to an opposition that is “a bit of a rabble”. He also takes it for granted that Nelson independent Gerry Wood would support Labor to remain in government, remarkable as that may sound to outsiders attuned to the federal sphere. Late last month, Adlam offered the following in a report which had previously escaped my notice:
The NT News understands that Labor polling shows Ken Vowles will win Johnston, following the retirement of Chris Burns, and Michael Gunner will retain Fannie Bay. This would leave Sanderson as the make-or-break election seat.
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Categories: NT Politics