2020 Northern Territory general election

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2020 Northern Territory general election

← 2016 22 August 2020 2024 →

All 25 seats in the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly
13 seats needed for a majority
Opinion polls
Turnout74.9% (Increase 0.9 pp)
  First party Second party Third party
Michael Gunner shakes hands with Adm. Harry Harris (cropped).jpg
Lia Finocchiaro Profile (cropped).jpg
Terry Mills in 2005.jpg
Leader Michael Gunner Lia Finocchiaro Terry Mills
Party Labor Country Liberal Territory Alliance
Leader since 20 April 2015 1 February 2020 November 2019
Leader's seat Fannie Bay Spillett Blain
(lost seat)
Last election 18 seats 2 seats Did not exist
Seats before 17 2 3
Seats won 14 8 1
Seat change Decrease 3 Increase 6 Decrease 2
Popular vote 40,291 32,021 13,184
Percentage 39.43% 31.34% 12.90%
Swing Decrease 2.76 Decrease 0.46 Increase 12.90
TPP 53.3% 46.7%
TPP swing Decrease 3.9 Increase 3.9

Chief Minister before election

Michael Gunner

Elected Chief Minister

Michael Gunner

The 2020 Northern Territory general election was held on 22 August 2020 to elect all 25 members of the Legislative Assembly in the unicameral Northern Territory Parliament.

Members were elected through full preferential instant-runoff voting in single-member electorates, after the optional preferential voting system introduced for the 2016 election was abolished by the Electoral Legislation Amendment Act 2019 in April 2019.[1] The election was conducted by the Northern Territory Electoral Commission, an independent body answerable to Parliament.

The incumbent centre-left Labor Party (ALP) majority government, led by Chief Minister Michael Gunner, won a second consecutive four-year term of government. It defeated the centre-right Country Liberal Party (CLP) opposition, led by Opposition Leader Lia Finocchiaro, and the regionalist big-tent Territory Alliance (TA) party, led by former Chief Minister Terry Mills.

ABC election analyst Antony Green called the election for the Labor Party nearly three hours after the polls closed.[2][3] At the time it was not known if the party would claim a majority of seats, though on 24 August the ABC projected Labor had retained majority government.[4] When the counting of votes concluded, Labor finished with 14 seats, enough for a two-seat majority on the floor of the Assembly. The Country Liberals won 8 seats, a gain of six from their landslide loss in the previous election, whilst 2 independents and 1 Territory Alliance candidate were elected.[5] The new Gunner Ministry was sworn in on 8 September 2020.[6]


Previous election[edit]

At the 2016 election, the one-term incumbent Country Liberal Party (CLP) minority government, led by Chief Minister Adam Giles, was defeated by the Labor Party Opposition, led by Opposition Leader Michael Gunner. The CLP suffered the worst defeat of a sitting government in the history of the Territory, and one of the worst defeats of a sitting government in the history of Australia. It was the first time that a sitting Northern Territory government was defeated after only one term. From 11 seats at dissolution (and 16 after the 2012 election), the CLP suffered the worst election performance in its history, winning only two seats. Labor won 18 seats, in the process winning the third-largest majority government in Territory history. Independents won five seats. With only two members in the CLP caucus, Gary Higgins became opposition leader and CLP leader while Lia Finocchiaro became deputy CLP leader on 2 September. Although the independent MPs outnumbered the CLP MPs, on official advice the CLP was recognised as the official opposition.[7]

Additionally, Giles lost his seat of Braitling to Labor, making him only the second Chief Minister/Majority Leader and the third CLP leader to lose their seat at an election. Along with the seat of Katherine, the election represented the first time Labor had won a seat in Alice Springs or Katherine.[8]

With the overall result beyond doubt, Gunner had himself, Natasha Fyles, and Nicole Manison sworn in as an interim three-person government on 31 August until the full Gunner Ministry could be sworn in on 12 September.[9][10][11]

The position of Speaker of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly had been held by former CLP-turned-independent MP Kezia Purick since 23 October 2012. Despite Labor's massive majority following the 2016 election, the incoming Labor government re-appointed Purick as Speaker.[12]

Labor expulsions[edit]

The composition of the Assembly was unchanged for over two years, with Labor Party holding 18 seats, the Country Liberal Party two and the remaining five by independents. In December 2018, the Labor Government dismissed three sitting members of the parliamentary party; the Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ken Vowles, Assistant Minister Jeff Collins and backbencher Scott McConnell.[13] The trio were dismissed after publicly criticising the government's handling of the territory's long-term economic situation, following a report finding the budget to be in "structural deficit" with expenditure struggling to cover previous borrowings and day-to-day costs.[14] They consequently became independents and sat on the crossbench. McConnell later announced he would not re-contest his seat at the election, though did end up running for the adjacent seat of Braitling.[15]

Territory Alliance founding[edit]

In August 2019, Terry Mills, the independent member for the seat of Blain, announced the formation of a new regionalist big tent party known as Territory Alliance.[16] Mills had previously been the leader of the CLP and was Chief Minister of the Northern Territory following the Country Liberal Party's (CLP) victory at the 2012 election. He was usurped for the leadership of the party by Adam Giles only six months into his Chief Ministership, defeated 11–5 in a party-room ballot. With Mills' presence in the Assembly, the new Territory Alliance held one seat. This increased to three seats in March 2020 when Jeff Collins (expelled by Labor in December 2018) and Robyn Lambley (the former deputy CLP leader who was re-elected as an independent in 2016) announced they had joined the party, taking Territory Alliance's representation in the Assembly to three seats.[17] With more members in the Assembly than the CLP, Alliance sought to claim official opposition status, though they were defeated 5–3 in a secret Assembly ballot of non-Government MPs and the CLP retained opposition status, with Lia Finocchiaro remaining as Opposition Leader.[18][19]

Johnston by-election[edit]

With Scott McConnell having announced his retirement at the election and Jeff Collins becoming a member of the Territory Alliance, Ken Vowles, the remaining member of the Labor trio to be expelled by the party, announced his immediate resignation from the Assembly in November 2019.[20] This decision necessitated a by-election in the seat of Johnston to replace Vowles. The by-election was held on 29 February 2020 and was won by Labor candidate Joel Bowden, who claimed 52.6% of the two-candidate preferred vote. Labor's primary vote collapsed more than 21 points, making the seat a marginal contest at the general election. The Territory Alliance candidate usurped the Greens and CLP candidates into second place (47.4% of the two-candidate preferred vote), with the CLP primary vote dropping by more than 15 points and the party finishing in fourth place.

Election date[edit]

The parliament has fixed four-year terms, with elections to be held on the fourth Saturday of August every four years.[21]

Key dates[edit]

Key dates in relation to the election were:[22]

  • 30 July 2020: Issue of the writ
  • 30 July 2020: Nominations for candidates opened
  • 31 July 2020: Electoral roll for voters closed (5:00 pm)
  • 6 August 2020: Nominations for candidates closed
  • 6 August 2020: Declaration of nominations and candidate positions on ballot papers
  • 10 August 2020: Early voting and mobile voting commenced
  • 10 August 2020: Applications for postal voting opened
  • 20 August 2020: Postal voting dispatches ceased
  • 21 August 2020: Last day for early voting
  • 22 August 2020: Polling Day
  • 4 September 2020: Last day for receipt of postal votes
  • 7 September 2020: Declaration of election result
  • TBD: Return of writ


Map of electoral boundaries used at the 2020 election

A boundary redistribution for electoral divisions in the Northern Territory commenced on 27 February 2019, with the boundary commission releasing its report of the final boundaries on 4 September 2019.[23]


  Labor (16)
Official Opposition
  Country Liberal (2)
  Territory Alliance (3)
  Independent (4)
Labor seats
Katherine Sandra Nelson ALP 1.6
Brennan Tony Sievers ALP 2.6
Port Darwin Paul Kirby ALP 2.8
Braitling Dale Wakefield ALP 3.0
Drysdale Eva Lawler ALP 5.2
Fairly safe
Arafura Lawrence Costa ALP 7.3
Arnhem Selena Uibo ALP 10.5
Sanderson Kate Worden ALP 10.5
Casuarina Lauren Moss ALP 11.5
Karama Ngaree Ah Kit ALP 12.3
Fannie Bay Michael Gunner ALP 12.5
Johnston Joel Bowden ALP 15.7
Barkly Gerry McCarthy ALP 15.9
Wanguri Nicole Manison ALP 19.9
Gwoja Scott McConnell IND 22.2
Nightcliff Natasha Fyles ALP 26.7
Country Liberal seats
Daly Gary Higgins CLP 1.7
Namatjira Chansey Paech ALP 2.0
Spillett Lia Finocchiaro CLP 15.3
Territory Alliance seats
Blain Terry Mills TA 1.4 v ALP
Fong Lim Jeff Collins TA 5.6 (ALP v CLP)
Fairly safe
Araluen Robyn Lambley TA 8.6 v CLP
Independent seats
Mulka Yingiya Mark Guyula IND 0.1 v ALP
Nelson Gerry Wood IND 23.0 v CLP
Goyder Kezia Purick IND 25.3 v CLP


  • This pre-election pendulum is based on post-redistribution estimates of margins calculated by ABC election analyst Antony Green.[26]
  • Members listed in italics are retiring at the 2020 election.

Post-election pendulum[edit]

Labor seats
Blain Mark Turner ALP 0.2
Arnhem Selena Uibo ALP 1.6 v IND
Port Darwin Paul Kirby ALP 2.1
Fong Lim Mark Monaghan ALP 2.6
Arafura Lawrence Costa ALP 3.6
Fairly safe
Drysdale Eva Lawler ALP 7.9
Fannie Bay Michael Gunner ALP 9.6
Karama Ngaree Ah Kit ALP 9.8
Casuarina Lauren Moss ALP 15.9
Gwoja Chansey Paech ALP 16.2
Johnston Joel Bowden ALP 16.5
Wanguri Nicole Manison ALP 17.3
Sanderson Kate Worden ALP 19.3
Nightcliff Natasha Fyles ALP 24.3
Country Liberal seats
Barkly Steve Edgington CLP 0.1
Namatjira Bill Yan CLP 0.3
Brennan Marie-Clare Boothby CLP 1.2
Daly Ian Sloan CLP 1.2
Braitling Joshua Burgoyne CLP 1.3
Katherine Jo Hersey CLP 2.3
Fairly safe
Nelson Gerard Maley CLP 8.3 v IND
Spillett Lia Finocchiaro CLP 15.0
Crossbench seats
Araluen Robyn Lambley TA 0.5 v CLP
Mulka Yingiya Mark Guyula IND 5.0 v ALP
Goyder Kezia Purick IND 6.8 v CLP

Registered parties[edit]

At the time of the election, eight parties were registered with the Northern Territory Electoral Commission (NTEC).[27]

Opinion polling[edit]

Voting intention[edit]

Date Firm Primary vote
29 June 2020 uComms[28] 34% 29% 11% 13%*
September 2019 MediaReach[29] 29% 39% 22% 10%
2016 election 42.2% 31.8% 18.8% 7.2%
* Remainder were "uncommitted".

Retiring MLAs[edit]


Country Liberal[edit]



There were 111 candidates who nominated for the election—the second-highest number of candidates in a Territory election, just under the 115 who nominated in 2016.[34]

Sitting members are listed in bold. Successful candidates are highlighted in the relevant colour. Where there is possible confusion, an asterisk is used.

Electorate Held by Labor candidate CLP candidate Territory Alliance candidate Greens candidate Other candidates
Arafura Labor Lawrence Costa Gibson Illortaminni George Laughton Tristan Mungatopi (Ind)
Araluen Independent Jackson Ankers Damien Ryan Robyn Lambley Bernard Hickey Domenico Pecorari (AFP)
Wayne Wright (Ind)
Arnhem Labor Selena Uibo Jerry Amato Ian Mongunu Gumbula (Ind)
Lance Lawrence (Ind)
Barkly Labor Sid Vashist Steve Edgington Gadrian Hoosan (Ind)
Daniel Mulholland (Ind)
Blain Independent Mark Turner Matthew Kerle Terry Mills
Braitling Labor Dale Wakefield Joshua Burgoyne Dale McIver Chris Tomlins Marli Banks (AFP)
Kim Hopper (Ind)
Scott McConnell (-)
Brennan Labor Tony Sievers Marie-Clare Boothby Abraham Mbemap Peter Chandler (Ind)
Casuarina Labor Lauren Moss Tony Schelling Danial Kelly Kendall Trudgen
Daly CLP Anthony Venes Ian Sloan Regina McCarthy Will Kemp Mick Denigan (Ind)
Drysdale Labor Eva Lawler Leanne Butler Fiona Lynch Danielle Eveleigh (Ind)
Brendan Killalea (Ind)
Lash Lisson (BFFCPW)
Raj Samson (Ind. UAP)
Fannie Bay Labor Michael Gunner Tracey Hayes Rebecca Jennings Peter Robertson Mark Mackenzie (Ind)
Fong Lim Labor Mark Monaghan Kylie Bonanni Jeff Collins Amye Un (Ind)
Goyder Independent Mick Taylor Phil Battye Rachael Wright Karen Fletcher Pauline Cass (Ind)
Trevor Jenkins (-)
Kezia Purick* (Ind)
Ted Warren (Ind)
Gwoja Labor Chansey Paech Phillip Alice Kenny Lechleitner (AFP)
Johnston Labor Joel Bowden Gary Haslett Steven Klose Aiya Goodrich Carttling Josh Thomas (Ind)
Karama Labor Ngaree Ah Kit Brian O'Gallagher Caleb Cardno
Katherine Labor Kate Ganley Jo Hersey Melanie Usher Clinton Booth (Ind)
Mulka Independent Lynne Walker Yingiya Mark Guyula (Ind)
Namatjira CLP Sheralee Taylor Bill Yan Matt Paterson Nikki McCoy Catherine Satour (AFP)
Tony Willis (Ind)
Nelson Independent Steve Asher Gerard Maley Andy Harley Beverley Ratahi (Ind)
Nightcliff Labor Natasha Fyles Steve Doherty Melita McKinnon Billee McGinley Shelley Landmark (AJP)
Port Darwin Labor Paul Kirby Toby George Gary Strachan Timothy Parish Leah Potter (Ind)
Sanderson Labor Kate Worden Derek Mayger Amelia Nuku
Spillett CLP Tristan Sloan Lia Finocchiaro Vanessa Mounsey
Wanguri Labor Nicole Manison Jed Hansen Michael Best


Map of results by electorate.
14 2 1 8

Results summary[edit]

Legislative Assembly (IRV) – (CV)[35][36]
Party Votes % +/- Seats +/-
  Labor 40,291 39.43 −2.76 14 Decrease 4
  Country Liberal 32,021 31.34 −0.46 8 Increase 6
  Territory Alliance 13,184 12.90 +12.90 1 Increase 1
  Independents 10,977 10.74 −8.09 2 Decrease 3
  Greens 4,453 4.46 +1.49 0 Steady
  Australian Federation 942 0.92 +0.92 0 Steady
  Ban Fracking Fix Crime Protect Water 226 0.22 −3.36[a] 0 Steady
  Animal Justice 78 0.08 +0.08 0 Steady
 Formal votes 102,172 96.54 −1.46
 Informal votes 3,661 3.46 +1.46
 Total 105,833 100 25
 Registered voters / turnout 141,255 74.94 +0.92
Two-party-preferred vote[b][37]
  Labor 53.3 Decrease 3.9
  Country Liberal 46.7 Increase 3.9
Popular vote
Country Liberal
Territory Alliance
Two-party preferred vote
Country Liberal
Country Liberal
Territory Alliance

The CLP regained a number of seats in traditional heartlands that it had lost to Labor in 2016, with the party winning back Braitling, Brennan and Katherine from the ALP. It also won the outback seats of Barkly and Namatjira by narrow margins. The ALP maintained its dominance of the Darwin/Palmerston area, holding all but two of the region's seats–accounting for almost all of its majority. The ALP managed to consolidate some of its gains from 2016. It retained Port Darwin and Drysdale, two seats it had only won once before 2016, while gaining Blain, a seat it had never won before. The ALP also won a majority of the two-party vote for only the third time ever in a Territory election.

Both incumbent independent MLAs running for reelection, Yingiya Mark Guyula and Kezia Purick, retained their seats, but long-serving independent Gerry Wood was succeeded by a CLP candidate in Nelson. The Territory Alliance won a single seat, with Robyn Lambley narrowly holding her seat of Araluen; party leader Terry Mills and Jeff Collins both lost their seats.

Seats changing hands[edit]

Members in italics did not re-contest their seats at this election. Margins are notional estimates by Antony Green.[38]

Seat Pre-election Swing Post-election
Party Member Margin Margin Member Party
Barkly Labor Gerry McCarthy 15.9 16.0 0.1 Steve Edgington Country Liberal
Blain Territory Alliance Terry Mills 1.4 (IND) N/A 0.2 Mark Turner Labor
Braitling Labor Dale Wakefield 3.0 4.3 1.3 Joshua Burgoyne Country Liberal
Brennan Labor Tony Sievers 2.6 3.8 1.2 Marie-Clare Boothby Country Liberal
Fong Lim Territory Alliance Jeff Collins 5.6 (ALP) −3.0 2.6 Mark Monaghan Labor
Katherine Labor Sandra Nelson 1.6 3.9 2.3 Jo Hersey Country Liberal
Namatjira Labor Chansey Paech −2.0* −1.7 0.3 Bill Yan Country Liberal
Nelson Independent Gerry Wood 23.0 31.2 8.3 Gerard Maley Country Liberal
  • *Due to boundary changes, Namatjira was notionally CLP at the time of this election.


  1. ^ "Electoral Legislation Amendment Act 2019". Northern Territory Legislation. Northern Territory Government. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  2. ^ "Michael Gunner 'very confident' Labor will retain government after NT election but CLP yet to concede". ABC News. 22 August 2020.
  3. ^ "NT election 2020 results as they happen: Look back at our live blog". ABC News. 22 August 2020.
  4. ^ "NT Labor's Michael Gunner to form majority government". ABC News. 24 August 2020.
  5. ^ "NT election goes down to the wire as counting for final four seats finishes 13 days after polls closed". ABC News. 4 September 2020.
  6. ^ "NT Government's new Cabinet sworn in amid concern over Michael Gunner's appointment as Treasurer". ABC News. 8 September 2020.
  7. ^ "Gary Higgins becomes Country Liberals' new leader, Lia Finnochiaro his deputy". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2 September 2016. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  8. ^ "Former NT chief minister Adam Giles loses seat". ABC News. 9 September 2016. Retrieved 9 September 2016.
  9. ^ Breen, Jacqueline (31 August 2016). "Labor leader Michael Gunner sworn in as Northern Territory Chief Minister". ABC News.
  10. ^ "NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner unveils new Cabinet". Northern Territory News. 11 September 2016.
  11. ^ Oaten, James (13 September 2016). "New female-majority NT cabinet sworn in, Chief Minister vows to keep team". ABC News.
  12. ^ "NT Labor Government announces female-dominated Cabinet". Abc.net.au. 11 September 2016. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  13. ^ "Ken Vowles, Jeff Collins and Scott McConnell dumped from NT Government's Labor Caucus". ABC News. 21 December 2018.
  14. ^ "Northern Territory Government in financial crisis, will seek bailout from Canberra". ABC News. 14 December 2018.
  15. ^ "'I'm quitting politics': NT MLA Scott McConnell will not recontest Labor seat". ABC News. 3 February 2018. Retrieved 3 February 2018.
  16. ^ "Former chief minister Terry Mills set to establish new NT political party". The West Australian. 2 September 2019.
  17. ^ "Robyn Lambley to join Territory Alliance". Alice Springs News. 18 March 2020. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  18. ^ "NT opposition status switches back to Country Liberal Party from Territory Alliance in surprise vote - ABC News". ABC News. 24 March 2020. Retrieved 16 May 2020.
  19. ^ "CLP returned as NT Opposition in shock ballot". 24 March 2020.
  20. ^ "Ken Vowles has quit politics on the last day of parliamentary sittings for 2019". ABC News. 28 November 2019. Retrieved 28 November 2019.
  21. ^ "So when is the next election?". Aph.gov.au. 1 September 2016. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  22. ^ "2020 Territory Election Timetable" (PDF). Northern Territory Electoral Commission. Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 August 2020. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  23. ^ "2019 NT Electoral Boundary Redistribution". NTEC. 4 September 2019. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  24. ^ "Final NT electoral boundaries released" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 December 2019. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  25. ^ a b c "Report on the redistribution of the Northern Territory into divisions" (PDF). NT Redistribution Committee. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 December 2019. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  26. ^ Green, Antony. "Pendulum – NT Votes 2020". ABC Elections. ABC News. Retrieved 21 July 2020.
  27. ^ "Register of political parties in the Northern Territory" (PDF). NT Electoral Commission. 8 May 2020. Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 August 2020. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
  28. ^ "Media Release: Polling shows Territorians want action to protect our Top End Coasts". Top End Coasts. 6 July 2020. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
  29. ^ "Grim poll numbers reveal axe may be ready to swing for NT Labor govt". Sky News Australia.
  30. ^ "Barkly MLA Gerry McCarthy to retire at 2020 NT election". NT News. 12 May 2020.
  31. ^ "'Sandra Nelson, betrayed, announces she will not run in 2020 election". Katherine Times. 20 March 2019. Retrieved 3 July 2019.
  32. ^ Vivian, Steve (20 January 2020). "Country Liberal Party 100 per cent" behind new leader Lia Finocchiaro". ABC News. Retrieved 5 February 2020.
  33. ^ Garrick, Matt (15 February 2019). "'It's time I cared for her': NT politician to retire and help wife, who has dementia". ABC News. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  34. ^ Green, Antony (6 August 2020). "Close of Enrolment and Nomination Details for 2020 Northern Territory Election – Antony Green's Election Blog". Antony Green's Election Blog. Retrieved 7 August 2020.
  35. ^ "NT summary of first preference votes by division". NTEC. Retrieved 4 September 2020.
  36. ^ "2020 Northern Territory Election Results". ABC News.
  37. ^ Green, Antony (6 September 2020). "2020 Northern Territory Election – Analysis of Results". Antony Green's Election Blog. Retrieved 30 October 2020.
  38. ^ Green, Antony. "Changing Seats". ABC Elections. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 23 August 2020.


  1. ^ Figure based on 2016 total for the 1 Territory Party, from which Ban Fracking Fix Crime Protect Water was renamed.
  2. ^ Estimate by Antony Green based on the 24 seats with a two-party count between Labor and CLP. Mulka is excluded as the CLP did not run in that seat.

External links[edit]