The 2016 Northern Territory Legislative Assembly election compared

Presented by ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences

The 2016 Northern Territory Legislative Assembly election compared: Strong winning party advantage and successful independents (including Indigenous)

Graphing simple data for the ten elections for the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly since 1983, we can see that the 2016 election occupies an extreme position.  The winning party enjoyed a greater seat/vote advantage and the losing party a greater seat/vote disadvantage than in any of the previous nine elections. By exploring a proportionality profile graphic for these ten elections, this seminar will expand on these observations and also show that:

1.  The next most extreme case of seat/vote advantage for the winning party was 1987.

2.  2016 and 1987 were also the elections in which independents (and minor parties) were most successful.

3.  This will be related to splits in the Country Liberal Party, leading to former CLP MLAs being re-elected with new affiliations. Independents have a long and substantial record of success in Northern Territory elections, better than the proportionality profile suggests and a lot better than minor parties.

The seminar will conclude by looking at successful independents who have not emerged from party splits. Gerry Wood, who came up through local government and is now serving a fifth term in the seat of Nelson, is the most well-known. The 2016 election produced another, Yingiya Mark Guyula who won the seat of Nhulunbuy as an independent backed by the Yolgnu Nations Assembly. Does Guyula's election just reflect serendipitous seat boundary changes in 2015, or is there potential for other successful Indigenous first nations independents in NT elections? Addressing this question will take the seminar back to a long-standing debate about the votes of Indigenous electors.

Biography

Will Sanders has been a CAEPR staffer since 1993. He is a political scientist fascinated by Australia's Northern Territory and by electoral systems. Will first joined the ANU as a Research Assistant at the North Australia Research Unit in Darwin in August 1981. For orientation, he read Under One Flag, accounts of the 1980 Northern Territory Legislative Assembly election edited by Dean Jaensch and Peter Loveday. Will has been watching and writing about Northern Territory elections ever since.