Territory Labor’s refusal to kick backbencher Mark Turner out of the party sends a “disturbing” message that the party condones dishonest conduct in government, Opposition Leader Lia Finocchiaro says.
The ALP administrative committee yesterday rejected Chief Minister Michael Gunner’s request to have Mr Turner expelled from the party for allegedly misleading Parliament and for his “profound lack of trust” in the Member for Blain.
Instead, the party committee determined to keep Mr Turner in the party “unless further information comes to light”.
The party’s rejection of the Chief Minister’s request is seen as a big blow to his leadership.
Ms Finocchiaro said it was clear Mr Gunner had lost control of the situation and called for a by-election in Blain.
“Labor’s failure to dump the Member for Blain for his scandalous and unparliamentary behaviour is not only weak, but again proves Michael Gunner has lost all control,” she said.
“The rejection of calls for the Member for Blain to stand down gives the green light to unacceptable, deliberately deceitful behaviour by Labor members.
“The Chief Minister has labelled the Member for Blain’s behaviour as dishonest and said he was ousted from Labor’s parliamentary team because of a ‘profound lack of trust’. Why should this behaviour be accepted by the people of Blain?”
‘How can the Member for Blain represent his constituents with this hanging over his head?”: Opposition
In a statement on Monday night, ALP NT president Erina Early said the party was concerned about Mr Turner’s conduct and warned that committing further adulterous affairs and allegedly lying to Parliament may cause problems for his party membership in the future.
“The Member for Blain’s conduct has been disappointing and based on his actions he will be warned that behaviour like this in the future will not be tolerated, noting serious sanctions already imposed by the parliamentary wing,” the statement said.
The decision notionally means Mr Turner will continue to support Mr Gunner’s government in Parliament despite Mr Gunner kicking him out of caucus last month and being referred to the Privileges Committee for investigation.
Ms Finocchiaro said relying on his “tainted vote” to keep the government functioning was “shameful”.
“It’s shameful caucus members won’t publicly call for the resignation of the Member for Blain, or condemn the Chief Minister for his role in the cover-up,” she said.
“The irony is, if they did they’d be booted from caucus quicker than the Member for Blain was.
“How can the Member for Blain continue to represent his constituents at school assemblies, public functions or on the floor of Parliament with this hanging over his head? The reality is, he can’t. The people of Blain deserve better.”
Mr Turner won the seat of Blain by 13 votes at last August’s general election.