strangedave (strangedave) wrote,
strangedave
strangedave

Northern Territory politics in a nutshell

Northern Territory politics can be basically divided into two halves, Darwin and the rest. And it basically has two many politicians, with territory electorates having roughly the same number of people as largish council wards -- a single West Austalian upper house member is representing considerably more people than the entire Northern Territory. It also differs notably from the rest of the country because the conservative side of politics is the territory only Country Liberal Party, a somewhat different beast from either the Liberals or the Nationals.
ETA: and surely another factor in NT politics is the very high population turnover, as much as 30%.

Darwin politics is basically a lot like overgrown council politics, or big country town politics. The seats are small enough that backing from community group of few hundred people can be enough to get a serious hold on a seat, leading to some serious parochialism. And Darwin politics seems to be dominated by the standard fallbacks of unimaginative politicians everywhere, plenty of pork barrelling targeting individual seats, lots of talk about Laura Norder, and plenty of personal sledging of the opposition. The thing that makes it most interesting is that, with 1 in 3000 people being a professional politician, the bar is set fairly low, and this, combined with the rough and tumble nature of the Northern territory, makes for some amusing, if lowbrow, scandals (details in a follow up post).

Outside Darwin, politics is pretty simple. White folk tend to vote for the CLP. Aboriginal people tend very strongly for the ALP. The CLP has an absolute lock on the two urban seats in Alice Springs, and the ALP ranges from having an absolute lock on to cautiously retaining the bush seats.

Aboriginal politics dominates the bush seats. In the two Alice Springs seats the CLP doesn't seem to shy away from the racist edge to its vote too much, but in the bush seats it is often a case of the two parties both running indigenous candidates. The ALP seems to almost always win in these cases, but it does illustrate that indigenous politics can get complicated, and isn't as straightforward as might be expected. It is also noteworthy that there is currently no love lost at all between aboriginal MPs Deputy Chief Minister Marion Scymgour, who came out heavily against the NT Intervention, calling it the 'the black kids Tampa', and member for Macdonnell Alison Anderson (who was re-elected unopposed this time -- possibly the electoral spanking she gave CLP member John Elferink at the last election was a factor in that), who is generally positive about the resources flowing into Aboriginal communities.
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