The by-election in the electorate of Daly to replace CLP MLA Ian Sloan will be held on September 11, but confusion remains over how the date was selected, which appears to have caught the CLP by surprise.
A statement from Chief Minister Michael Gunner claimed Administrator Vicki O’Halloran issued the writ for the by-election this afternoon after meeting with Mr Gunner.
A statement from the NT Electoral Commission initially said the writ was actually issued “late yesterday and in accordance with the Electoral Act 2004, a 24-day election period has been set”.
But the NTEC later said that was wrong and the writ was in fact issued today, August 19.
According to the Electoral Act, the by-election must be held 23 days after the writ is issued. The 24-day election period includes the day the writ was issued.
The date of the by-election appeared to have caught the CLP by surprise.
Leader Lia Finocchiaro had issued a statement earlier to another media outlet suggesting that the by-election would be held on September 18.
“With any by-election due 24 days after the issuing of the writ, the Chief Minister can call the by-election for Saturday 18 September, which could see the new Member for Daly sworn in at the start of the September sittings, ensuring representation for the people of Daly,” she had said earlier.
Instead, the the by-election has been set for a week earlier on September 11, giving voters in the Daly electorate less than 24 hours to ensure they are on the roll.
Mr Sloan officially provided his resignation letter to the Speaker today.
This week’s parliamentary sitting dates were cancelled due to the lockdown and are not currently scheduled to be made up. The cancellation means Mr Sloan will not be provided the opportunity to give a farewell speech in Parliament.
Mr Sloan, who won the seat by only 94 votes last August, has said he is retiring less than a year after being elected due to health reasons.
The NT Electoral Commission said in its statement that the electoral roll will close on Friday at 5pm, meaning voters in the vast electorate have less than 24 hours to ensure they are enrolled.
“With such a tight time frame for the election to be held, there is less than 24 hours for Daly electors to make sure they are correctly enrolled to vote in the by-election,” said NTEC commissioner Iain Loganathan.
Nominations will close at noon on August 26.
The Daly electorate includes the communities of Adelaide River, Acacia Hills, Batchelor, Dundee Beach, Pine Creek, Timber Creek and Wadeye.
Both parties have held the seat in the past.