Greatorex by-election, 2007

The Greatorex by-election, 2007 was a by-election held on July 28, 2007 for the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly electorate of Greatorex in Alice Springs. [Calacouras, Nick. "Labor admits it's on ropes in Alice". "Northern Territory News", July 11, 2007.]

The by-election was triggered when Dr Richard Lim, the Country Liberal Party member for Greatorex, resigned from politics on July 9, 2007. Lim had held the seat since 1994, and had served as Deputy Opposition Leader under former CLP leader Denis Burke. [Lollback, Rebecca. "Then there were 3 as CLP loses Lim". "Northern Territory News", June 29, 2007.] Greatorex is generally considered a safe seat for the CLP, and Lim, a popular local member, had managed to retain the seat at the 2005 election despite both a huge territory-wide loss which saw Burke lose his seat and the presence of a Labor star candidate in high-profile Alice Springs mayor Fran Kilgariff. [Calacouras, Nick. "Outspoken talkback host set for CLP nod". "Northern Territory News", July 3, 2007.] Lim stated that he was resigning in order to care for his ailing wife and parents, and was considering returning to his medical practice. He apologised for retiring mid-term, an act he had previously criticised former Attorney-General Peter Toyne for doing in 2006. [Lollback, Rebecca. "Then there were 3 as CLP loses Lim". "Northern Territory News", June 29, 2007.]

The by-election saw CLP candidate Matt Conlan elected on primary votes alone, polling 52% of the vote, a small increase on the 2005 election. Independent candidate Paul Herrick finished second with 20%, just ahead of Labor candidate Jo Nixon on 16%. Greens candidate Jane Clark finished fourth with 9% of the vote.

There were 4564 people enrolled within the electorate at the close of the rolls for the by-election on July 13. [Adlam, Nigel. "4564 on seat roll". "Northern Territory News", July 14, 2007.]

Candidates

The Country Liberal Party preselected local "shock jock" radio presenter Matt Conlan as their candidate unopposed, with the support of party leader Jodeen Carney. A number of potential CLP candidates, including former MLA John Elferink, former candidate Michael Jones, who nearly won the adjacent seat of Braitling in 2005, and Alice Springs deputy mayor David Koch had all previously ruled out nominating. [Calacouras, Nick. "Outspoken talkback host set for CLP nod". "Northern Territory News", July 3, 2007.] [Calacouras, Nick. "Shock jock gets poll nod for CLP". "Northern Territory News", July 4, 2007.]

The Australian Labor Party preselected Jo Nixon, an audiologist and the organiser of the annual Alice Springs Beanie Festival as their candidate. [Calacouras, Nick. "Labor admits it's on ropes in Alice". "Northern Territory News", July 11, 2007.] The 2005 candidate, Fran Kilgariff, was reportedly not interested in standing again. [Calacouras, Nick. "Shock jock gets poll nod for CLP". "Northern Territory News", July 4, 2007.]

Alice Springs' deputy chief fire officer, Paul Herrick, contested the by-election as an independent. He was strongly endorsed by Loraine Braham, the independent MLA for the adjacent seat of Braitling. [Calacouras, Nick. "Independent adds fire to by-election". "Northern Territory News", July 12, 2007.] His candidacy was widely thought to pose the biggest potential threat to the CLP in the traditionally safe seat, and raised some speculation that the CLP could have lost party status had he won. ["CLP funding under threat via Greatorex". "Northern Territory News", July 13, 2007.]

Former Alice Springs alderman Jane Clark contested the by-election for the Australian Greens. She had previously expressed interest in the Labor nomination, but had been unsuccessful, and had been expected as a likely independent candidate after resigning from the council on July 12. However, she made a surprise announcement on the last day of nominations, July 16, that she would instead run as a candidate of the Greens, who had not previously been expected to contest the by-election. [Calacouras, Nick. "Greens aim at by-election". "Northern Territory News", July 16, 2007.] [Calacouras, Nick. "CLP funding under threat via Greatorex". "Northern Territory News", July 13, 2007.] [Calacouras, Nick. "Labor admits it's on ropes in Alice". "Northern Territory News", July 11, 2007.]

Campaign

The by-election campaign centred around a number of issues, including housing, law and order and the environment. Independent candidate Herrick promised to push for more affordable housing in town, arguing for unoccupied public housing to be sold off to provide cheap housing options, and calling for the creation of a satellite city for Alice Springs at Owen Springs, similar to Palmerston, near Darwin. ["Candidates unveil policies.". "Centralian Advocate", July 20, 2007.] ["In brief". "Northern Territory News", July 20, 2007.] [Calacouras, Nick. "Satellite city call for Red Centre". "Northern Territory News", July 26, 2007.] The CLP also touched on housing issues, promising to reform the territory's HomeNorth scheme if elected in an effort to ease housing pressures. [Calacouras, Nick. "CLP to remove limits on home buy scheme". "Northern Territory News", July 17, 2007.]

The CLP repeatedly focused on law and order issues during the campaign, criticising crime rates and expressing support for the federal government's intervention in the region, including the ban on public consumption of alcohol in the town. Conlan promised to support the construction of a detox facility in the town to further combat the effects of alcohol if elected. ["Promise to deliver for the people". "Centralian Advocate", July 24, 2007.] Labor also focused its campaign on law and order issues, with Nixon's primary promise being the construction of a remote "boot camp" for young offenders in Central Australia, which subsequently received support from the territory government. [Calacouras, Nick. "'Boot camp' idea set to get a leg-up". "Northern Territory News", July 24, 2007.] Herrick also touched on the issue, criticising the lack of positive activities available for youth in Alice Springs. ["Pledge to help young". "Northern Territory News", July 17, 2007.]

Environmental issues were also raised a number of times throughout the campaign, with both the Labor and Green candidates raising concern about the prospect of the federal government building a nuclear waste dump in the region. ["Major parties give Alice independent preference." "Northern Territory News", July 24, 2007.]

The CLP campaign received an early blow when high-profile former party treasurer and Alice Springs party president Andrew Maloney publicly endorsed Labor candidate Jo Nixon, risking expulsion from the CLP. He stated that he thought Labor would be in government in the territory for the next "six to ten years", and that he felt the electorate would be better off with a government member in the circumstances. [Calacouras, Nick. "Alice poll pragmatist crosses party line". "Northern Territory News", July 17, 2007.]

The CLP, Labor and the Greens directed their second preferences to Herrick. Herrick chose to direct no preferences. ["Major parties give Alice independent preference." "Northern Territory News", July 24, 2007.]

Results

Election box candidate AU party
party = Labor
candidate = Jo Nixon
votes = 541
percentage = 16.59
change =
Election box candidate AU party
party = Independent
candidate = Paul Herrick
votes = 670
percentage = 19.9
change =
Election box candidate AU party
party = CLP
candidate = Matt Conlan
votes = 1,764
percentage = 54.09
change =
Election box candidate AU party
party = Greens
candidate = Jane Clark
votes = 316
percentage = 9.69
change =
Election box formal
votes = 3,261
percentage = 97.8
change =
Election box informal
votes = 75
percentage = 2.2
change =
Election box turnout
votes = 3,366
percentage =
change =
Election box candidate AU party
party = Independent
candidate = Paul Herrick
votes = 1,392
percentage = 42.3
change =
Election box candidate AU party
party = CLP
candidate = Matt Conlan
votes = 1,899
percentage = 57.8
change =
Election box hold AU party
winner = CLP
loser = Labor
swing =

References


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