‘Michael Gunner has lost the trust of the people’: Opposition says Chief Minister’s job ‘untenable’ following Dixon statement

by | Jul 27, 2021 | News, NT Politics | 0 comments

Chief Minister Michael Gunner has “lost the trust of the people” and must immediately release the document Cabinet relied on to approve a $12 million grant for the Turf Club grandstand to restore integrity in government, Opposition Leader Lia Finocchiaro says.

She also called for Mr Gunner and all senior Cabinet ministers to resign over their handling of the grant process that the ICAC found was “deeply flawed and affected by donations”.

The comments follow the release of an 11-page statement by Darwin Turf Club chairman Brett Dixon, which Ms Finocchiaro said reiterated that Mr Gunner played a key role in breaching standard processes to procure $12 million of taxpayer money for the grandstand through Cabinet.

“It was Michael Gunner who waived proper process and scrutiny of the submission by bringing it ‘under the arm’ to Cabinet,” she said.

“It was Michael Gunner who forced his Labor colleagues to approve the dodgy deal, and it was Michael Gunner and his Cabinet that decided $12 million would be given away as a lump sum and not proceed as a market-led proposal.

“Brett Dixon’s lengthy tell-all backs up what Territorians and the Opposition have been saying since the release of the damning ICAC report: the Chief Minister orchestrated and is responsible for this deal.”

Mr Gunner has dodged radio interviews this week.

He has previously denied any knowledge of the details around the grandstand grant process, suggesting that Cabinet was “lied to” but did not say by whom.

Ms Finocchiaro said if that were true, he can waive Cabinet confidentiality and release the document he and Cabinet relied on to make the funding decision.

“Everything contained in the document taken to cabinet is in the public interest and far outweighs any claim of confidentially by the deceitful Gunner Government,” she said.

“If Labor don’t address this head on, it casts a permanent shadow over every grant approved by Cabinet.”

“Michael Gunner, Nicole Manison, and Natasha Fyles, have consistently lied to Territorians that ‘normal cabinet’ processes were followed.

“The urgency to sign off on this dodgy decision is obvious: it was just 12 months out from an election, the pet project was smack bang in the middle of the Chief Minister’s electorate, the Territory was in the depths of an escalating economic crisis, and Labor was affected by political donations.

“Michael Gunner has lost the trust of the people he was elected to represent,” she added.

“No one believes him, or his version of events. The Chief Minister’s position is untenable, so is that of Cabinet members who approved the deal and they must all resign to restore integrity in government.”

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