Originally published March 17, 2020
EXCLUSIVE: Independent Member for Araluen Robyn Lambley is in discussions to join the Territory Alliance, the 𝑁𝑇 𝐼𝑛𝑑𝑒𝑝𝑒𝑛𝑑𝑒𝑛𝑡 can reveal.
It’s expected an official announcement is imminent and will put to bed the recent debate over official opposition status in NT Parliament.
Ms Lambley’s decision to join the fledgling party will bring its total to three Members of Parliament – outnumbering the current Opposition CLP’s two seats.
It will be a major blow for the Country Liberal Party ahead of the upcoming Territory general election. The party has been resourced to the tune of roughly $1.7 million a year as official Opposition since 2016.
Despite the Territory Alliance losing the recent Johnston by-election to Labor, the party picked up former Labor MLA-turned-independent Jeff Collins, who joined leader Terry Mills last week.
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That brought the party’s total to two members, equivalent to the CLP’s Lia Finocchiaro and Gary Higgins. Public debate ensued over what would happen with two parties equally vying for official opposition status, which was expected to be raised when NT Parliament resumes next week.
But Ms Lambley’s decision to join the TA will mean under Parliamentary convention, it would be entitled to official opposition status and the resources and staff that come with it because it is a recognised party with the most non-government members in Parliament.
As recently as last week, Ms Lambley had rejected the idea of joining the TA for the sole ambition of forming opposition.
“I’m not going to do that for the sake of knocking the CLP out of Opposition status,” she told ABC Radio.
“I’m not going to join this fiasco so a party can become opposition.”
Ms Lambley was deputy leader of the CLP under Mr Mills before he was rolled as leader by Adam Giles in 2013.
Sources close to the discussions between Ms Lambley and Mr Mills say the talks are continuing, with Mr Mills flying to Alice Springs for an expected official announcement.
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