NACCHO Aboriginal News Alert : Scullion’s Indigenous policy approach trapped in CLP’s Territory wreck


” The overwhelming anti-CLP bush vote wasn’t just Aborigines reacting against four wasted years. The return to Labor was a sophisticated demonstration that a decade after the federal government intervention in the face of a “national emergency” — including a suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act to make it possible — people are sick of having a surveillance-based, punitive regime with uncertain results forced upon them .

The matey, blokey relationship between Scullion and Adam Giles, even as a sizeable sector of the Territory’s indigenous community feared CLP plans to enact changes to the Land Rights Act, will likely not be reproduced with Michael Gunner.

The Australian 29 August picture above NACCHO file : see results of NT election below

Nigel Scullion departs Darwin for Canberra with his Northern Territory Country Liberal Party in smoking ruins and a clear warning that the experiment with a coercive, big-stick approach to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advancement is at an end.

The Indigenous Affairs Minister, who as Territory senator is the CLP’s only representative in the Turnbull government and whose mantra has been mostly “more kids at school, more adults in real jobs”, watched ashen-faced on Saturday evening as the election results came in.

Criticism of Scullion’s handling of his portfolio, already sharp, will increase. A pending Australian National Audit Office review of the Indigenous Advancement Strategy, the government’s centrepiece funding policy, will likely be even more devastating than the recent Senate inquiry into the same vehicle.

That audit is due in December — the Senate inquiry reported in March that the strategy’s 2014 implementation, involving the collapsing of 150 indigenous-specific programs into five streams and the corralling of an $8.6 billion four-year budget into the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, had been a shambles.

“It was a bureaucratic process of officers of the department out there deciding what was needed by communities, when in fact … you should be engaging with the community to work out what the community is saying,” Mick Gooda, whose royal commission into juvenile detention in the NT is about to get under way, told the committee.

Which is a key takeaway of Saturday’s vote. The candidates who did best in the bush were those with strong local support bases and who were seen to be listening to communities’ needs. Nor, it should be noted, do people necessarily distinguish between Territory and federal programs and funding.

The matey, blokey relationship between Scullion and Adam Giles, even as a sizeable sector of the Territory’s indigenous community feared CLP plans to enact changes to the Land Rights Act, will likely not be reproduced with Michael Gunner.

The new chief minister will be acutely aware of the indigenous affairs policy landscape that helped get him elected, and surely will be at pains to press Scullion on it.

From the Conversation

Labor easily win the NT election

At the 2012 Northern Territory election, the Country Liberal Party (CLP) won 16 of 25 seats, to 8 for Labor and 1 Independent. During a chaotic term, 4 CLP and 1 Labor members defected to sit as Independents, so the pre-election parliamentary numbers were 12 CLP, 7 Labor and 6 Independents.

At yesterday’s NT election, the ABC is calling 15 of 25 seats for Labor, 1 for the CLP and 3 for Independents, with 6 in some doubt. The ABC’s prediction is 18 Labor, 3 CLP and 4 Independents. Even if Labor loses all doubtful seats, they would still have a clear majority.

Two of the doubtful seats – Blain and Nhulunbuy – are cases where the incorrect final two candidates were selected on election night. The electoral commission will need to redo the two candidate count in those seats. Former chief minister Terry Mills, who was deposed by Adam Giles in the last term, will need a strong flow of preferences from the CLP in Blain.

Giles himself is in trouble in his own seat of Braitling, trailing Labor by 21 votes on a swing of almost 20 points. Former Labor leader Delia Lawrie is likely to hold her seat of Karama as an Independent; she leads by 51.2-48.8.

Overall primary votes were 43.1% for Labor (up 6.6), 31.7% for the CLP (down 18.9), 3.5% for the new 1 Territory Party, 2.8% for the Greens (down 0.5) and 18.9% for all Others (up 9.3). The Others were mostly Independents. The Poll Bludger has a breakdown of the votes and seats for each region.

There are still some booths that have not yet been added to counts, particularly in remote seats. However, most electorates are reporting postal counts, so it is unlikely that the CLP’s position will improve post-election, in the way the Federal Coalition’s position improved. Counting will resume tomorrow morning.

At this election, the voting system was changed to optional preferential voting; previous NT elections used compulsory preferential voting. However, this change appears to have helped Labor. In Braitling, Labor trails by 10.4% on primary votes, but leads by 0.4% after preferences. It is likely that minor party voters who were hostile to the CLP put the CLP last, while those who were better disposed to the CLP followed the CLP’s advice, and just voted “1”.



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