Territory Alliance ‘came in like a wrecking ball’ in the NT election, Opposition Leader says

Country Liberal Party leader Lia Finocchiaro says the NT’s new political party Territory Alliance “came in like a wrecking ball” ahead of Saturday’s election, confusing voters and costing her party votes.

As counting continued on Tuesday, the CLP was sitting on at least four seats, with potential wins in Braitling in Alice Springs and Brennan in Palmerston, compared to Labor’s 13.

The Territory Alliance has not won any seats although Robyn Lambley is still in the race to retain Araluen in Alice Springs.

Six seats remain too close to call.

On election night, CLP senator Sam McMahon said Territory Alliance had “directly handed the Northern Territory another four years of Labor” by choosing to preference the Government above the Opposition in Port Darwin, Drysdale and Braitling.

Ms Finocchiaro said the criticism was “a very fair assessment”.

ABC chief election analyst Antony Green said final preference flow results were yet to be revealed but he considered it a step too far to blame Territory Alliance preferences for the CLP loss.

“You could point to Drysdale and Port Darwin and say, ‘Territory Alliance preferences helped Labor over the line’ [but] I’m not convinced of that,” he said.

“Apart from those seats where they directed preferences to Labor, it’s a bit hard to say the Territory Alliance cost the CLP the election.”

TA ‘complicated’ the election: Green

But Green said having a third party in the race had made things more difficult for the Opposition.

“There were two parties, that did complicate the campaign — it made it harder for the Country Liberals to get its message across with another party in the field,” he said.

a ballot box
The Northern Territory election is the first general election to be held in Australia amid the coronavirus pandemic.(ABC News)

Ms Finocchiaro said voters had been “confused” by the Territory Alliance proposition.

But she said the overall result meant there would now be a “strong opposition” in NT Parliament.

“Territorians deserve a strong opposition, they need that alternative voice,” she said.

“We provide that conservative baseline for people to look towards, we provide that alternative policy position and voice.”

In his first appearance since the Government’s 13-seat majority was declared on Monday, Chief Minister Michael Gunner said he was “stoked” to be returned to the NT’s top role.

He flagged an inclination to “back in” the current Cabinet but said he would wait until the final votes were tallied before confirming the new ministry.

At least one ministerial role is open because of the retirement of Barky MLA and Housing Minister Gerry McCarthy.

Mr Gunner said things were looking “very tough” for Dale Wakefield as counting continued in the Alice Springs seat of Braitling.

“Once I know who everybody in the team is, I will then talk to the team and we will look at announcing the new cabinet,” he said.

Yesterday Territory Alliance’s Jeff Collins, who lost his seat of Fong Lim in the election, said he still believed in his party’s vision.

Territory Alliance was formed last year to offer what it called an alternative to the NT’s two major parties however the fledging party crashed at the polls, with leader Terry Mills also losing his seat of Blain.

“It was always going to be difficult being that new third party, what we needed to do was garner votes from those formally welded-on CLP or ALP voters.

“I don’t see how we can continue on with the way the two parties have treated the electorate over the last 20 years and I don’t see how it’s going to change.”