Critics line up to comment on Clare Martin and it makes for some
interesting reading, but not everyone is in agreement as you can see by
the reader feedback at the bottom of the page.
The critics rave. Not. Hillary Bray’s negative assessment
of Nicholas Rothwell’s fawning profile of Northern Territory Labor
Chief Minister Clare Martin has been shared by our respondents.

Read Hillary on Nicholas Rothwell here – One-sided coverage goes with the Territory

Some quotes:

“The Weekend Australian story was horrific.”

“Crikey is right on the money with the Clare Martin expose.”

“The Nicholas Rothwell piece on Clare Martin was a great re-invention
of Martin’s past and the true history of Territory politics and

“Clare Martin has brought a raft of labour hacks and has-beens in from
southern states who have decimated the public service from ministerial
bunkers. This has gone well beyond simply up stirring up a few
good ole boys long grown complacent in the atmosphere created by the
previous corrupt administration. Inexperience and naivety now
permeate decision making and Little Miss Muffet presides over the
process – the pool regulations were but one of many such pressure group
driven policies.”

“(Rothwell) needs a lesson in past achievements. NT
administration has always recruited high-powered department chiefs from
the south and its public sector has always had a good reputation.
The NT achieved enormous things in the time since self government in
1978 and many people can take credit.”

“Health under Aagaard was not just a disaster – it was a tragedy, but
no one has had the inclination to do an in depth analysis of the total
failure of both the Commonwealth and Territory to even begin to deal
effectively with Aboriginal health. It remains a disgrace, and
well and truly swept under the carpet.”

“Hillary could have also mentioned Martins dictatorship within the Ministry.”

“Martin has benefited from the lack of performance by the dispirited
and disjointed CLP which is going through a period of generational
change. Her achievements to date have been in projects begun by
the previous government. All she’s done so far is manage a good
media image, re-invent her past and claim credit for other people’s

“Did Rothwell check with Martin’s ABC colleagues about her performance
as a presenter and staff member? I doubt they would have shared
the Bob Collins view that she was ‘one of the best presenters the ABC
had anywhere in Australia.’ Martin left a sour taste in staff
mouths back in 1993 when she was confronted on whether she was a
preselected candidate for the ALP. When the story was eventually
confirmed, she was taken off air and her post-election return for a few
months was a time of great difficulty for the ABC. It doesn’t
have fond memories of her time, contribution, or indeed
abilities. She was OK. Nothing great, just OK, like scores
of presenters around the 60 odd stations in the ABC.”

“Rothwell is a ‘blow-in’ with a deep interest in and understanding of
Aboriginal culture, but with an unfortunate and abiding tendency to
sycophancy with politicians and spin-doctoring bureaucrats. He
appears to specialise in panegyrics while Paul Tuohy does the hard
yards in places like the notorious Port Keats.”

“The Martin Government passed Bills in the Territory to comply with the
Howard Government ASIO bill and Higher Ed bills before they were
debated in Parliament in Canberra (and without any consideration of the
Federal Labor position).”

“Martin a champion of women’s rights? Her plan is to mainstream women’s policy (like the PM)!”

“When Clare Martin officiated at the various Railway media events, did
anyone remember her staunch opposition to the project in her previous
career at the ABC? And what of her disdain for the building of a new
parliament house, where she now so happily resides.”

“Politics Clare Martin style, is all about spin and Nicholas Rothwell has been clean bowled.”

Perhaps we need to pay a bit more attention to the top end with a response like that!


Reader feedback:

Hillary’s rabble and the CLP

Crikey, where did you dig up the selection of one-sided respondents to
Hillary Bray’s equally one-sided piece on Claire Martin? Are they
former CLP hangers-on who’ve been pushed out of the silver circle,
angry that years of overt sycophancy are no longer paying off with
Labor in power?

I lived, studied and worked in the NT during the CLP years. I joined
Labor out of disgust at the way the place was governed, and I can
assure you that for every one of your mewling CLP-loving correspondents
I could find you another Territorian who hates that bastard offspring
of the mainstream Liberal party with a passion.

Do you need to be reminded as to what sort of Government they were?

A “not racist BUT” Government. “BUTs” like the TV advert that showed
all the Aboriginal land in the NT coloured in black, then showed the
whole map turning black “if Labor get in”. Changed to red at the last
minute! Find an election during the CLP years that was not run
significantly on race and I’ll eat a bag of raw chilli prawns.

A Government that mandated sending a 15 year old Aboriginal kid to gaol
for stealing pencils, where he hanged himself. 15, stealing pencils,
dead. International condemnation got the finger from those white-shoe
thugs. Ditto arguments for the separation of legislative and judicial

A Government that frequently made the most incredible development
decisions, with projects going to closely affiliated businesses without
due process, such as the Alice Springs Gaol Case (1997-98), where
Justice Mildren found that the relevant Minister had made his decision
to trash and redevelop the heritage listed gaol unlawfully and “for
improper purposes”.

A Government that blatantly indulged in open gerrymander, for example
the re-allocation of defence force votes among surrounding marginal

A Government that shed saltwater crocodile tears for the East Timorese
when they went through the bloody independence process, but that
previously tried to prosecute protesters for burning Indonesian flags,
and shut down the Darwin Music Development Centre because it was used
for Free East Timor fundraising nights.

You know why One Nation attracted about 10 people to its first meeting,
and never got a foothold in the NT? You know why Ian Tuxworth’s late
80’s attempt to open a branch of Joe Bjelke’s Nationals died in the

Because they were already there, subtly acknowledged by the first syllable in “Country Liberal Party”.

Long live Claire, or frankly anyone but the nasty self-serving vermin that were there before.

With Regards
Martin Garfield

Hating the CLP does not equal a defence

Love the piece from your subscriber in defence of Claire Martin.
Sorry sport, I stand by what I said “the CLP was and probably still is
(unless new leader Terry Mills can actually impose some his personal
ethics on the various ratbags in his party) the most incestuous ‘born
to rule’ bunch of self serving time servers in the country”. I fail to
see how this comment makes me a die-hard CLP supporter but anyway I

Unfortunately your subscriber, whilst passionate in his hatred of the
CLP and using the well worn technique of selective facts for example “A
Government that mandated sending a 15 year old Aboriginal kid to gaol
for stealing pencils, where he hanged himself. 15, stealing pencils”
Well, actually he was sentenced under the mandatory sentencing act as a
habitual petty crime offender which took in consideration all previous
offences not even a nice try. Personally, I disagree with
mandatory sentencing as well for any number of judicial and moral
arguments but to suggest that the only thing this kid had done was
steal pencils is just a bunch of selective wank.

As for bringing East Timor in the equation. Bizarre, any Labour
supporter, who knows his history would understand that is a very
dangerous place to hang your hat, the Invasion of East Timor was not
exactly Labor’s brightest moment in history.

Having re-read his musings few more times, I am sorry but I cannot find
any defence of Claire and the dodgy down south Labour invaders. There
is not one mention of any achievement of the Labour party whilst in
office (not that I blame him for that because I can’t think of one
either). A passionate hatred of the CLP backed by loose and easily
disputed half-truths and fair dinkum fibs does not qualify as a defence
of the NT Labour Party. The sad part is an accurate hatchet job on the
CLP as opposed to what was written would probably be the easiest
journalistic task in Australia today, the CLP are way to arrogant to
worry about cover ups

The challenge still stands, can anyone think of a positive contribution
by the NT Labour party that was not started by some one else?
Perhaps we could start with the election promise to ensure a viable
“freedom of information” act. .. eer second thought maybe not.. that
lasted less than a Sydney minute.

Tom Collins

Garfield’s conflict of interest

Not sure if this should a “letter” or a “whinge”. Or both.

I just saw the Martin Garfield’s reader feedback on “Clare Martin: Miss Popularity”.

This isn’t the same “… my top priority being back home is re-joining the ALP …” Martin Garfield who wrote the No Third Way For Comrades article on your website.

Shame on you Crikey if it is. If it is, the man has a clear conflict of interest, and it should have been mentioned!

<name withheld>

P.S. no I have no conflict, I voted ALP last NT election.

Martin Garfield replies to his critics

[Hi, could I just have a right of reply on the conflict
allegation please, on the Martin-CLP story? It’s wrong, and a bit

Some fair points made by Terry, and I agree, my piece is just a polemic
against the CLP. It pretends to be nothing more. On the little
Aboriginal kid, I’m not sure what his past record was, but the law only
required one previous property offence for minors before mandatory
sentencing kicked in. And regardless of what he’d done in the past,
giving a 15-year-old kid from Groote Island 2 weeks in gaol for
stealing pencils is sick. And a breach of international law on the
rights and treatment of children.

‘Name withheld’ says I have a conflict; I don’t see it. I openly
admitted to being a Labor man in the piece, see the second paragraph:

“I lived, studied and worked in the NT during the CLP years. I joined Labor out of disgust at the way the place was governed”

I’m happy to be accused of being a hating polemicist, in this context
it is a compliment. However suggesting I deliberately withheld a
conflict of interest is another matter! Go back and read it, comrade…

Martin Garfield

More on Clare Martin

Rothwell’s hagiography of Clare was laughably over the top, but so are your correspondents’ attacks on the Martin Government.

Here’s a quick response to Tom Collins’
challenge to find one positive contribution by NT Labor. How about
estimates hearings in the Legislative Assembly? In its 27 years of
government, the CLP decided that this basic tool of accountability
wasn’t even necessary. They managed to make Bjelke-Petersen seem

Introducing estimates was hardly a sexy
reform and the public probably didn’t even notice, but it went a hell
of way toward dragging the NT legislature into the twenty-first (or
even the twentieth) century.

Sweaty Darwinite

Naming positive contributions by the NT Labor party

Tom writes, “personally, I disagree with mandatory sentencing as well
for any number of judicial and moral arguments,” and then, “the
challenge still stands, can anyone think of a positive contribution by
the NT Labour party that was not started by some one else?”

I’ll take up the challenge – they got rid of Mandatory Sentencing

Robert Lamb