Voters on the NT Legislative Assembly seat of Fannie Bay will go to the polls on Saturday 20 August following the resignation of MP and former Chief Minister Michael Gunner.
I’m unfortunately on the wrong side of the world to cover the by-election. I don’t have access to the ABC’s election site to publish a preview and will be busy cycling round Italy’s Lake Como on the day results are being reported. Understandably I’m sticking to my bike.
To fill the gap, I’ve pulled together a brief profile of Fannie Bay here on my personal site. No guarantee that I’ll have time to offer further commentary before the election.
All the official information on the by-election can be found on the NT Electoral Commission’s Fannie Bay by-election website. This includes details on when, where and how to vote.
A date for WA’s North West Central by-election has now been named – Saturday 17 September. I’ll publish information on this by-election next week when I return to Australia. Details on the by-election can be found on the WA Electoral Commission’s website.
46 year-old Michael Gunner is a fourth-generation Territorian and the first Chief Minister to have been born in the Territory. He was born in Alice Springs but has been a long-term resident in the Fannie Bay electorate. Before his election to parliament he worked as a senior ministerial adviser to the previous Labor government between 2001 and 2008. After his 78 vote victory in 2008, Gunner substantially increased his majority in both 2012 and 2016 before a small swing against him in 2020. Gunner took over from Delia Lawrie as Labor Leader in April 2015 and led Labor to an easy victory at the 2016 election. During his first term as Chief Minister, economic difficulties saw his government face a serious political challenge as re-election year dawned, but strong handling of the early stages of Covid19 saw his government re-elected with a a narrower but clear victory in 2020. Previous heart problems and a desire to spend more time with his young family Gunner resign as Chief Minister in May 2022 followed by his resignation as MLA for Fannie Bay at the end of July 2022.
The division of Fannie Bay is adjacent to central Darwin and includes the suburbs of East Point, Fannie Bay, The Gardens, Parap, and Ludmilla. The electorate includes the Fannie Bay Racecourse, East Point Recreation Reserve, Darwin Botanic Gardens, Darwin Casino and Mindil Beach, the home of the famous Mindil Beach Market.
The electorate derives its name from the adjacent bay, whose name is believed to derive from opera singer Fannie Carondini, who performed in Adelaide in 1869 a month before the surveyors under George Goyder came to Port Darwin to establish a settlement.
Fannie Bay has existed since the Legislative Assembly was created in 1974. It was won at its first election by Grant Tambling, but the seat was lost to Labor’s Pam O’Neill in 1977 at the election where Labor elected its first members to the Assembly. Tambling subsequently represented the Northern Territory in the House of Representatives 1980-83, and in the Senate 1987-2001.
Fannie Bay was regained for the CLP in 1983 by Marshall Perron, defeating O’Neill after the seat absorbed much of his former seat of Stuart Park in a redistribution. Perron was born in Perth 14 days before the first Japanese bombing of Darwin, his family having been part of the civilian evacuation of Darwin in early 1942. Perron was known to jokingly blame the Japanese for denying him his birthright as a Territorian. Perron served in the Legislative Assembly from 1974 to 1995, holding office as Chief Minister from 1988 to 1995. He was always one of the party’s leading figures, passing up earlier opportunities to become Chief Minister. He is remembered in the rest of Australia as the Attorney-General who released Lindy Chamberlain from gaol, and as the man who legalised euthanasia. He resigned as Chief Minister and from Parliament after the passage of his private member’s bill that legalised euthanasia. (The legislation was subsequently repealed by the Commonwealth.)
Labor’s Clare Martin won Fannie Bay at the by-election following Perron’s retirement, and increased her majority substantially in 1997, 2001 and 2005. After leading the Labor Party to an upset victory in 2001, Martin led Labor to a landslide victory at the 2005 election, a result previously thought unimaginable in the Territory. After her handling of the government came under challenge in 2007, particularly over the Howard government’s intervention into indigenous affairs, Martin was replaced as Chief Minister two days after Labor won the 2007 Federal election.
Without Martin’s personal vote at the snap 2008 election, Labor suffered a 14.6% swing in Fannie Bay. Labor’s Michael Gunner was narrowly elected, his 78 vote victory giving Labor a one seat majority. Gunner increased his majority at the 2012 election with a 5.9% swing, the largest towards Labor in any seat as Labor lost office. Gunner doubled his margin with a 7.8% swing in his favour as he led Labor back into office at the 2016 election before a 2.9% swing against him in 2020.
Last year the Labor government managed to take a seat from CLP at the Daly by-election. The government won Daly after a very short campaign as in Fannie Bay, but otherwise there is little similarity between the two by-elections. Labor won Daly largely by increasing turnout with a strong campaign to encourage remote indigenous electors to vote.
In contrast, Fannie Bay is an entirely urban electorate and turnout will be less of an issue. The by-election is a test of new Labor Chief Minister Natasha Fyles. Labor’s concern will be the past record of big swings against governments at by-elections in Darwin-based seat.
There are a total of 5,443 voters enrolled to vote.
Polling Place Results
At the 2020 NT election, more than half of the votes were taken as pre-poll votes with less than a third of votes cast on election day.
There were two polling places used in 2020 and being used again at the by-election. There were 282 votes taken in Ludmilla where Labor’s two-party percentage was 61.4%, and 918 at at Parap with Labor on 64.4%. Labor’s Early vote result was 55.9% (2,327 votes), 65.0 Absent (486), 59.2% Postal (382) and 71.4% Declaration (35). Similar two-party results were recorded in the polling places used for May’s federal election.
All details on when, where and how to vote can be found on the NT Electoral Commission’s Fannie Bay by-election website
|Brent POTTER – Australian Labor Party NT
Potter is a former political staffer and defence force veteran who has lived in Darwin since 2009
How-to-vote recommends a second preference for the Greens with CLP fifth.
|George MAMOUZELLOS – Independent
A businessman with a degree in pharmacy. Previously polled 2.6% at the Casuarina by-election in 2014 and 1.7% at the Johnston by-election in 2020.
|Raj Samson RAJWIN – Independent
Rajwin has worked in the health industry and in small business. He polled 2.9% as the UAP candidate for Solomon in 2019, was the Party’s NT Senate candidate in 2022 and polled 4.6% contesting Drysdale as an Independent at the 2020 NT election.
|Jonathan PARRY – The Greens
Parry has worked around Australia as a legal aid lawyer.
How-to-vote recommends a 2nd preference for Independent Leigh Potter, a third for Labor and the CLP fourth.
|Leah POTTER – Independent
Previously contested Port Darwin as an Independent at the 2020 NT election polling 4.9%.
|Ben HOSKING – Country Liberal Party NT
Small business owner and former NT police officer. Was the unsuccessful CLP candidate for Drysdale at the 2016 NT election. Hosking is the CLP’s treasurer and has also worked as a political adviser.
How-to-vote recommends a reverse donkey vote up the ballot paper from Hosking which puts Labor last.