Solicitor-General’s advice derails The Alliance’s bid to seize official NT opposition status from CLP
Yingiya Guyula, Robyn Lambley and Terry Mills formed an alliance on Tuesday. (ABC News: Ian Redfearn)
A bid by three independents to seize Opposition status in the Northern Territory Parliament has been dealt a damaging blow.
- Independent Robyn Lambley, Terry Mills and Yingiya Guyula formed an alliance on Tuesday
- They attempted to seize official Opposition status
- Legal advice from the Solicitor-General rules that out
Advice from the Solicitor-General Sonia Brownhill, provided after the 2016 election, unequivocally states that “the Opposition cannot be formed by a ‘coalition’ of independent members of the assembly”.
They urged Speaker Kezia Purick to declare them the official Opposition, given they outnumber the two-person Country Liberals Opposition.
Despite having the authority to make a decision on the matter, the Speaker declined to do so and instead told the trio they had an alternative option: ask Parliament to decide whether they should be given opposition status.
But the Labor Party, based on the Solicitor-General’s 2016 advice, has decided in won’t consider any such vote on the floor of Parliament.
“We won’t be supporting any move which wastes a single moment of parliamentary time on a question that has already been answered,” Chief Minister Michael Gunner said in a statement.
The NT Speaker Kezia Purick would not endorse the Alliance as the official Opposition. (ABC News: Michael Donnelly)
Mr Mills insisted the Solicitor-General’s advice was not a fatal blow for The Alliance.
“There’s a variety of views and interpretation, everybody knows that,” Mr Mills said.
“But this is clearly a government running scared.
“We hold their feet to the fire and they realise this is possibly going to cause them a problem, so they reach for the advice that best suits their concerns.”
Opposition Leader Gary Higgins said the only way the independents would take his office was if they formed a party.
“It wouldn’t be a matter of me giving it up. They need to form a party, and that party needs to have more members than what we currently have,” he said.
‘We will have to do what’s necessary’
But despite Mr Mills and Ms Lambley previously agreeing to form a party, there is no guarantee Mr Guyula would agree to give up his independent status.
“The member for Nhulunbuy is not considering joining any parties,” his spokeswoman said in November last year.
“He intends to remain an independent member of parliament, as he was elected by his electorate.”
Mr Mills said: “At the end of the day, we will have to do what’s necessary. There are a number of different ways to achieve our objective”.
Regardless of their future plans, the confusion surrounding Opposition status has raised the idea of creating a parliamentary rule.
“It could be referred to the Standing Orders Committee, which is a mixture of Government members, CLP and independents,” Ms Purick said.
Mr Higgins agreed, saying it could have been dealt with back in 2016 and avoided distraction from important issues such as the economy and crime.
“These sort of shenanigans simply play havoc with the amount of oxygen given to those issues that need to be addressed,” he said.