Chief Minister Michael Gunner could lose job over NT Labor’s ‘full-blown crisis’, analyst says



December 24, 2018 20:39:04

The “full-blown crisis” erupting within the Northern Territory Labor party has a renowned political analyst predicting the current Chief Minister could soon be sent packing.

Key points:

  • Political analyst Ken Parish says the NT Labor party’s internal divisions were terrible for business confidence
  • Exiled Labor politician Scott McConnell says a handful of Government advisors have too much power
  • He also says the party’s intolerance for “constructive commentary” was to its detriment

Former NT Government minister Ken Vowles, assistant minister Jeff Collins and backbencher Scott McConnell were stripped on their portfolios and banned from the party caucus on Friday, after a series of leaked emails showed they were critical of Government’s handling of its ballooning debt.

A candid press conference with Mr Vowles followed, where he accused his former colleagues of a raft of failings, before announcing on Sunday he would seek to find who had leaked the explosive emails through a Freedom of Information request.

Chief Minister Michael Gunner defended his actions, saying the trio had been banned for “breaking caucus values” and denying the leaked emails had come from the party.

But political analyst and former Labor politician Ken Parish believed Mr Gunner’s public reputation was in tatters.

“I think he’s in big trouble frankly,” he said.

“We now have a full-blown crisis that could result in the demise of the Chief Minister — that’s well and truly on the cards right now at this stage in my view.”

Mr Parish said the internal divisions had also been shocking for business confidence, particularly as the Territory was “in the midst of a recession”.

“Business confidence is very, very low as it is — we are undeniably in the midst of a recession,” Mr Parish said.

“We have a very large-scale internal war within the ALP Government that is frankly disastrous.

“And there is no doubt that it is impacting massively on public confidence in the Labor Government.”

Mr Parish went on to say there was no provision with the NT Labor party constitution for caucus members to be dismissed, and that the banned politicians would likely have a right to challenge the decision through the courts, ombudsman or the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

‘That’s poor leadership’

Member for Stuart Mr McConnell said the Territory Labor party’s powerbrokers — Government advisors — had even tried to have him reprimanded by the media for his dress sense.

Speaking to ABC Alice Springs for the first time since he was ousted on Friday, he echoed the sentiments of fellow exiled party member Mr Vowles, when he said a handful of advisors would leak information for even the most trivial of gains.

“I am not renowned for being a snappy dresser, lets put it that way, and I know that actuaries from the fifth floor were talking to media on that fact that I don’t dress properly and that I dress like I’m some sort of homeless person,” Mr McConnell said.

“Well I’m proud of how I dress and I dress how I do in part to demonstrate my heritage and so on.

“I think Scotty McConnell would look a bit ridiculous if he was running around in some sort of hipster outfit with a man bun.”

He went on to say the NT Labor party had rejected one of its key principles of having a “diversity of discussion”, revealing a lack of inclusivity did not bode well for the party’s future.

“If the initial reaction is going to be we exclude people for the remainder of the term from the Labor Government that they were elected to, that’s not looking good for the future of the Territory,” he said.

“That’s poor leadership.

“And I absolutely know Michael Gunner can do better than that. It’s in his hands to do better than that.

“So Michael I call on you — do better than that.”

He said there were a lot of people asking questions about Mr Gunner’s leadership.

“I think there is very real questions about Michael’s leadership in the community at the moment, and I think that Michael should reflect on those questions,” he said.






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