Gunner's real problems will be those he can do nothing—or little—about. The NT—a mendicant state that cannot pay its own way—is in a long downward spiral of economic and demographic decline. Mining and major industry is waiting for the next boom, the massive construction workforce at the Inpex gas plant in Darwin harbour will gradually wind down ahead of the plant coming on-stream in late 2018 or early 2019, and much more. The prospects for the Territory's economy over the next decade or so—a period during which Labor should continue to hold government—are little better than bleak.
CLP candidate Steve Brown described the indigenous employment and procurement polices as 'ill-considered' and 'blatantly racist.' Brown didn't elaborate on what aspects of his party's policies he considered 'racist' but it may be that he considered the policies unfairly favoured Aboriginal workers. Or discriminated against non-Aboriginal businesses or workers. Or both.
Foundation 51 has been the subject of intense media attention, and of formal enquiries by both the Australian and the NT electoral commissions and, despite years of digging by the media, NT Labor and others, no smoking gun has been, or is likely to be found. Foundation 51 was deregistered in May 2015.
I'll be in Darwin next week for the first phase of my research, focussing on documentary research and getting a few interviews. Drop me a line and we can catch up ...
My punch-bowl moment at yesterday's first day of the NT governance summit—that the NT is the most corrupt jurisdiction in the country—drew a few audible groans and mutters of protest from the good-and-locally-great and protests that, well, Queensland, Joh and Eddie Obeid. Yeah, well, they would say that.
Giles’s mood had changed from denial, to anger, to bargaining. He first denied any knowledge of an unfolding coup. Later he raged about the stupidity of it. And in our last conversation, just after midnight, before the phone was hurled from the balcony, he seemed to think there was a way to fight on.
Political cronyism is hardly unheard of in other states, but its sheer extent and audacity in the Northern Territory over the last four years is deeply troubling. The higher levels of the public sector have been utterly politicised and any semblance of a professional public service able to advise government without fear or favour no longer exists.
On Saturday night, as gracious as Giles' speech was, so Gunner's was shambolic. "Tonight is extraordinary" he said three times while the baying crowd called for blood and more beer.
By early Saturday afternoon Nathan Barrett was gone from the NT Cabinet, a "horrified" Chief Minister Adam Giles telling the media that Barrett "had to go."
In the normal course of events Delia Lawrie could expect to be honoured as a Wise Political Elder and respected adviser under a future Labor government. However that is much less likely if she chooses to subject the Party to a "knock down drag out" fight which can only damage the ALP and help the Country Liberals. Retiring in a belatedly gracious manner at next year's election (or even before) is surely the way to go.