2021 Daly (NT) By-election

This is not so much a post as a pointer to my analysis of the Northern Territory’s Daly by-election held on Saturday 11 September 2021.

It has resulted in the governing Labor Party gaining Daly from the opposition Country Liberals. Daly is the 25th by-election for the NT Legislative Assembly, the fourth to produce a change of holding party, and the first to produce a government gain from the opposition.

Here’s a link to the results page, and the page includes links to my background on Daly and my analysis and running commentary on the results from Saturday night.

In short, the by-election saw a higher turnout in indigenous communities where Labor’s vote is strong, and a lower turnout in semi-rural communities closer to Darwin where CLP support is stronger. The net result was a 7% swing to Labor, the CLP’s 2020 victory margin of 94 votes turned into a Labor margin of around 400 votes.

Drawing federal implications from 3,500 voters in Daly is a bit fanciful, but it provides lessons for at least one seat, the vast NT outback seat of Lingiari. Labor’s Warren Snowdon is retiring at the 2022 election after representing the area for 32 of the last 34 years, prior to 2001 as the MHR for the single Northern Territory seat.

Snowdon departs with a huge personal vote, especially in Katherine, Alice Springs and the Darwin rural areas where he polls more strongly than Labor does at NT elections. Will Labor votes be lost in urban areas with Snowdon’s retirement?

If so it means Labor will want to maximise its vote in remote indigenous communities, and that means getting organised and making sure communities are there to vote when the mobile teams arrive. If Labor can turn out the vote as it did in Daly, that will give Labor protection if its urban vote declines.

Labor has picked a high profile candidate in former Arafura MLA and Deputy Chief Minister Marion Scrymgour who should have strong appeal to indigenous voters, especially in the top end. The CLP candidate is former long-serving Alice Spring Mayor Damien Ryan. And the CLP have their own high profile indigenous candidate for the Senate in Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, a former Deputy Mayor of Alice Springs. Price was the defeated CLP candidate for Lingiari in 2019 and she was selected to contest the Senate in place of sitting CLP Senator Sam McMahon.