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I don't intend to dwell on politics or politicians (even though they are good for a laugh at times), however I do think that you need to have some idea as to what goes on here.

The Northern Territory has been self-governing since 1978, prior to that we were administered from Canberra, the national capital. Basically, politics and politicians fall into one of two groups - those whose parents were married and those whose parents were not married. As to political persuasions, well there are two schools of thought up here, one votes labor and the other votes conservative.

The Country Liberal Party (CLP)

Since the territory became independent from Canberra the CLP won every election held and boy did we know about it. However, there has recently been something of a coup' in territory politics with Denis Burke (CLP) losing the Territory election in 2001 to the "Ice Coffee Kid", Clare Martin (Labour). It is now Clare who is Chief Minister of the NT and Territory Labour who hold court from the multi-million dollar Wedding Cake, sorry that should be Parliament house (very nice venue, but slightly large for what's needed).

Popular opinion had it that the gathering of conservative (CLP) gentlemen rode roughshod over the general population so often, they were all issued with horseshoes. With the CLP it was not what you knew but who you knew. Arrogance was the word of the day here. This is probably as good a reason as any as to why the CLP lost the 2001 election (it certainly wasn't anything to do with the Policies of the then opposition). So saying, the CLP did have some remarkable achievements while they were in power, Darwin is now a modern, thriving, small city with an infrastructure to be proud of. The CLP did entice much investment to the territory with a resultant increase in jobs and general prosperity all around.

The CLP has produced some classical characters in the past. Who can forget Max Ortman, who as a minister, tried to strangle a journalist (well he wrapped a microphone cord around the journalists neck and pulled. He didn't actually strangle anyone, even though the journalist did deserve it). Or how about Barry Coulter, Minister for Mines and Energy, who drank a glass of water from the tailings dam at Ranger Uranium Mine to prove that the water wasn't contaminated. Not to be outdone, Minister for Lots of Things - Mick Palmer punched out a spectator at a local Rugby League match (again, he probably did exactly the same as most of the rest of us would have done).

The CLP are closely aligned with the National Party.

The Australian Labour Party (ALP)

What can I say. Never been in power before but have now been thrust into the limelight in a big way. I'm not sure who was more surprised at the Labour win, Labour themselves or the CLP. I think that the majority of the electorate was pretty stunned also.

The ALP are the CLP's greatest asset and vice-versa. One time TV Weather Girl (she was an awful radio journalist actually), Clare ("I'd like an Iced Coffee) Martin is the new Leader of Government.

The ALP are aligned with the National ALP.

Other Parties

There are no others, the CLP and Labour Party wouldn't allow it (just joking). One or two fringe parties, such as the Greens, do exist but they are of no threat to the Government or opposition.


Bleak. The CLP may regain Government in the next election (due in 2005) but I wouldn't count on it. Could be more of the same from the Martin Government - and really, that may not be such a bad thing.