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The Country Liberal Party was routed in today’s Northern Territory election, losing at least 8 of its 12 seats to the ALP, which will govern with at least 16 seats in the 25-seat Parliament.

The CLP has lost 18.6% of its primary vote and currently sits on 32.0%. The ALP’s primary vote has risen 6.4% to 42.8%.

Swings of around 12-16% were common across the Territory and reaching 20% in some areas. The CLP lost heavily in the Darwin suburbs and failed to hold the bush seats with large numbers of indigenous voters that it won in 2012.

As counting drew to a close for the night, commentators agreed that the CLP had retained just 2 seats (Daly and Spillett). Chief Minister Adam Giles was trailing by 21 votes in his seat of Braitling. Giles’s previous margin was 19.6%. In Katherine, Willem Westra van Holthe trailed the ALP by 31 votes. Held by 22.3%, Katherine was the CLP’s safest seat going into the election. Van Holthe attempted to overthrow Giles in February 2015, in a farcical tussle that ended with van Holthe becoming Deputy Chief Minister before being forced to resign in 2016 over conflict of interest allegations.

Terry Mills, the man who led the CLP to victory in August 2012, and who was then overthrown by Giles whilst Mills was overseas, trails the ALP in his old seat of Blain. The ALP candidate is Damian Hale, the former federal member for Solomon between 2007-10.

The CLP has also lost Brennan, Drysdale, Port Darwin, Stuart, Sanderson, Arafura and Fong Lim.

The ALP has also picked up two seats (Namatjira and Arnhem) from former CLP members who contested the election as independents. The result in Karama is too close to call with the former ALP leader, Delia Lawrie, ahead by 4 votes against the official ALP candidate. Lawrie lost the ALP leadership to Michael Gunner in April last year.

Independent candidates polled strongly in the election, increasing their share of the primary vote by 8.9% to 18.5%.

Two former CLP members have retained their seats as independents: Robyn Lambley in Araluen and Kezia Purick in Goyder. The member for Nelson, Gerry Wood, easily retained the seat he has held as an independent since 2001.

The rout of the CLP is unprecedented, although comparable to the ALP’s victory under Clare Martin in 2005. At that election, the CLP was reduced to 4 seats and the ALP won 19 with 59.1% of the two-party-preferred vote.


Giles spoke to CLP supporters in Alice Springs, after the result became clear tonight. He conceded the party had taken a “thumping” and had lost in a landslide. “Disunity is death,” Giles told the crowd. However, he failed to acknowledge any blame on his part for the disunity that plagued the government almost from the start. Labor will not be able to manage the economy, Giles said.

Michael Gunner delivered a lengthy victory speech to ALP supporters in Darwin. He emphasised his roots as territory-born and acknowledged each of his candidates. Gunner is 40 and has held the seat of Fannie Bay since 2008, when Clare Martin retired. Gunner will be the third member for Fannie Bay to be Chief Minister. Martin held the seat whilst Chief Minister between 2001-07, whilst the CLP’s Marhsall Perron held the seat whilst Chief Minister from 1988 until 1995.

The defeat of the CLP government means that three first term governments have been defeated in the past two years. The others were the Napthine LNP government in Victoria (2014) and the Newman LNP government in Queensland. The Turnbull LNP federal government survived this year’s election by one seat.

  • Listen to Adam Giles concede defeat (7m)
  • Listen to Michael Gunner claim victory (25m)
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