Northern Territory government under fire over standards of staff behaviour and transparency


The Gunner Labor government has come under sustained scrutiny as questions over its standards of transparency and staff behaviour have consumed another day of NT Parliament.

Over the past week, the Member for Blain, Mark Turner, was expelled from the Labor caucus after Michael Gunner told Parliament he failed to be upfront over his intimate relationship with a “private citizen”.

A Labor staff member also resigned over the issue and, while that person was named in Parliament today, the ABC is for legal reasons unable to name him at this time.

In a separate matter, the CLP member for the Alice Springs seat of Braitling, Josh Burgoyne, today accused an unnamed ministerial staffer of using “threatening, abusive and harassing words” during a run-in outside Parliament last Thursday night.

Attorney-General Selena Uibo, in whose office the person works, told Parliament the staff member had received a formal warning over the incident.

She then read a written apology from the staff member largely confirming Mr Burgoyne’s account.

“I was unnecessarily provocative in what I said in reference to the Member for Braitling, in a way which he could hear,” the statement read.

“I assert to the house that I did not use swear words, but the Member for Braitling believes I did and has been insulted by the content of my comments.

Leader of Government Business, Natasha Fyles, rejected a bid by the CLP to refer the matter to a parliamentary investigation committee, saying it wasn’t within the committee’s jurisdiction.

That prompted an attack from Opposition Leader Lia Finocchiaro.

“The fact that they are not going to accept this referral to the Privileges Committee has got to be one of the all-time lows when it comes to scrutiny, transparency, upholding the integrity of the Parliament and doing what is right,” Ms Finocchiaro said.

She was joined in her critique by Independent MLA Robyn Lambley, who urged her parliamentary colleagues to “lift the standard of behaviour and integrity, not lower the bar like we’ve seen this afternoon”.

‘Kids play with memes, we make decisions’

Mr Gunner’s handling of the issues plaguing his party has seen him come under pressure from members of Territory Labor’s youth wing.

In a letter posted to Facebook, the president of NT Young Labor condemned the Chief Minister’s push to have Mr Turner’s party membership revoked.

“I write today to express some concerns held by NTYL members from the Palmerston branch,” the group’s president, Lithira Abeysinghe, wrote in the post, which was later deleted.

“We make a plea for the president of the party as well as the general membership to not revoke the party membership of Mark Turner MLA.”

Chief Minister Michael Gunner has faced more than a week of criticism over issues plaguing his party.(ABC News: Michael Franchi)

Mr Abeysinghe praised Mr Turner for being responsible for the involvement of several young activists in the party.

In his letter, Mr Abeysinghe suggested the Chief Minister lacked a spine.

“I also write to you in the hopes you will assist us in our search for our parliamentary leader’s vertebrate (sic).”

The Chief Minister later told Parliament: “With respect to Young Labor, while the kids play with the memes, we have to make decisions and we have made those decisions and we stand by those decisions.”

Thank you for dropping in and checking out this story about National and NT news and updates titled “Northern Territory government under fire over standards of staff behaviour and transparency”. This news article is brought to you by MyLocalPages Australia as part of our Australian news services.

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