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TOUGH TERRITORY: In politics, winning can be just the start of trouble

TerrymillsIn Uni days, when first elected to what I then saw as high office by narrow margin, vanquishing vile ultra-leftists who later colonised the Greensparty, at our raucous late-night celebration in a sleazy Carlton pub, a wise friend and previous office-holder said to me “Enjoy tonight, it’s all downhill from here.”

A cynical outlook, to be sure, that only made sense to us later, but it does often seem that way for all but the most brilliant elected folk, like Wran, Beattie, Bracks, Menzies who could pick their own time of departure after repeated triumphs and escapes from random catastrophes.

In Victoria, the government’s doing it very tough and is way behind in published polls with the Premier’s former close mate and mentor Jeff Kennett reading them all the Riot Act, in Queensland, there’s a real sense of instability and chaos in the government despite a landslide win so substantial it was head-spinning and left Labor supposedly finished forever, in SA a long-term Labor government is in trouble and will fall if the Opposition can get its act together, in Tasmania, it’s much the same, although a weird electoral system makes it more difficult than it should be, the NSW and WA conservative governments are – for now – travelling better, partly because their opponents have been drowned in scandal over the years and the voters are still freezing them out (and in NSW will do so for a while yet).

The federal government, of course, also looks like it’s going to get walloped but their opponents face some tough challenges after election night in September, starting with scrapping a tricky-to-repeal carbon tax/price and dealing with a potentially very large Liberal party room that wants aggressive deregulation of the labour market and a party leader – who has publicly praised moderate unions like the SDA – who wants no such thing.

The difficulties of governing are playing out in the Top End too in a mess so spectacular it attracted considerable attention outside the Territory The NT’s Chief Minister, after six months in office, Terry Mills faced a farcical leadership challenge this week, which seemed to evaporate very quickly but which spokes volumes about the bloke-in-charge’s terrible pe

Mills had a huge, apparently game-changing, win last August, pulling significant indigenous votes for the first time. There was a real sense of air-punching triumph for conservatives at the time, given the exciting demographic shift.

There’s not a lot of triumph going on there now as this damning NT News article today makes it clear.


And another yarn – also not available online – shows that some of the conservative MPs elected unexpectedly were perhaps understandably not ready for the scrutiny involved in public life.



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  1. This is a great article as it explains the inscrutable and impenetrable CLP (NT).

    Posted by Giuseppe De Simone | February 23, 2013, 21:31
  2. “I’m not the leader of a party called the progressive party, I’m not the leader of a party called the moderate party.” Julia Gillard

    Posted by C U on the tram | February 24, 2013, 0:50
  3. I still have the letter of demand your lawyers wrote to me back in the Students Against Corruption asking me to apologise for some 30 counts of defamation of you or be sued. I offered to apologise and asked what form my apology should take. I never heard anything from your lawyers ever again.

    Posted by Rudi | February 24, 2013, 17:57
  4. Why is everyone questioning my integrity?

    Posted by KOD | February 24, 2013, 21:04
  5. Mills will be gone in weeks if not days. I’ve never seen an electorate so angry. There’s a PhD in it for someone. These amateur shit kicker politicians have to roll him or they’ll go from earning $250k back to $60-80k if they’re lucky. They have a lot to lose by sticking with Mills.

    just gotta be able to laugh at these fools so obviously out of their depth. The responsible thing would be for the Commonwealth to revoke self government or at the minimum another intervention this time on alcohol instead of child sex abuse.

    Let the NT’s failures be a warning to people advocating for abolishing the states and replacing them with smaller regional governments. Here’s what you’d get.

    Posted by Solomon Lingiari | February 25, 2013, 13:33
  6. Mills will be gone by Easter – I heard the serial candidates Patricia Petersen and Julian Assange are thinking of running

    Posted by the Insider | February 25, 2013, 15:35
  7. Before Commonwealth talks about being responsible, it needs remove exemptions from responsibility and accountability it provides certain landowning corporations who own large land areas where many NT communities situated.

    For decades public monies – mostly Commonwealth, wasted building housing in these private fiefdoms incorrectly labelled “communities” where corporate landowners refuse to issue leases to their tenants because leases will give them rights…

    Commonwealth’s apartheid policy approach obstructs, thus prevents, these cowboy corporate landlords being held unaccountable where they responsible, end result the problems in their private fiefdom communities.

    Commonwealth will not revoke self government, such would clearly end widespread confusion about denials of basic rights in these Commonwealth established, funded and maintained, privately owned kingdoms. Add to this whenever it suited Commonwealth cancels NT legislation.

    Posted by Paul Parker | March 9, 2013, 23:49


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