Independent Member for Araluen Robyn Lambley has hit out at the Chief Minister, saying he has “diminished democracy” after restricting the number of questions independent MLAs get in Parliament and by refusing to meet with anyone in Alice Springs not on the NT Government payroll.
Ms Lambley said she will file a motion on out-of-control crime in Alice Springs next week when Parliament resumes, but said she will only be given one opportunity to question the government about the hot button issue that has plagued Michael Gunner in recent weeks.
“Democracy for me is diminishing,” Ms Lambley said in an interview with Mix104.9 on Tuesday.
“One thing that’s come about in this term of Parliament is that I’ve been advised that I only get to ask one question, per parliamentary sitting week.
“They really have made a concerted effort to try to clip my wings, but I do have a motion on Wednesday afternoon, a general business motion which is about the crime.
“That will be my opportunity to talk a lot about this issue that we’re experiencing in Alice Springs, and it will be an opportunity for other non-government members to participate in that debate and discussion.”
It’s understood the government made the decision to reduce questions for independents because only three had been elected in August, down from seven in the previous Assembly.
But Ms Lambley said the restriction of questions was only the latest move in a concerted effort by the Gunner Government to stifle debate that included scrapping the scrutiny committee last year.
“They really don’t want us to participate in Parliament in a meaningful way at all anymore,” she said.
“They’ve really tightened things up with the abolishment of the scrutiny committee and other mechanisms, and [now we’re] given one lousy question a week you know… Hello? That’s not right and it’s not democratic.”
Ms Lambley said that Mr Gunner’s failures to front concerned Alice Springs residents over the crime wave shows he has no interest in hearing from real Territorians and added it was clear he only speaks to those on his payroll when he visits Alice.
“That’s where he needs to come to the party and have some frank conversations with people who aren’t on his payroll, who don’t have to curtail and blow wind up his … whatever,” Ms Lambley said.
“This is the problem with this government, they don’t really want to listen to any other narrative or solution, apart from what they’ve landed on. People down here are still feeling embattled.”
Mr Gunner said earlier this week that he visits Alice Springs to listen “all the time” and has done patrols with police and other public servants in the past.
“So, that’s a regular thing I do in Alice,” he said. “Usually, I go out on patrol with police and Territory Families workers at different times of night and see what’s going on, as well. So, I do a lot of that work when I go down to Alice so I absolutely accept that responsibility as Chief. So, I get to Alice a lot and obviously do that in Alice regularly.”