Christian Kerr writes:

The unthinkable seems set
to happen – the Northern Territory’s first Labor government seems set
to be returned in tomorrow’s election. Just like in WA in February, a
gamble on a massive infrastructure proposal from the opposition has
failed to convince the voters (National MPs please note).

The
Country Liberal Party’s $1.3 billion plan to connect the Northern
Territory to the national electricity grid has short-circuited. The CLP
says the line will drive down the cost of electricity prices by 30% by
bringing in cheaper power from Mt Isa. However, NTQ Electricity, the
company behind the scheme, was only formed last month – and Mt Isa
Mayor Ron McCullough says no-one from the CLP has approached him about
the scheme.

“It
seems a rather strange proposition,” he told the ABC when the policy
was revealed last week. “I certainly haven’t heard of it before, and
I’m not sure if the local energy company has.”

Labor has
described the proposal as “snake-oil economics.” Chief minister Claire
Martin has warned the project could cost 300 jobs, while business
minister Paul Henderson says the price claims are deceptive. Instead,
they insist independent assessment shows the power line will drive
power costs up 14%. Labor also maintains that NTQ has also omitted $300
million in construction costs.

Some things in Territory politics
never change. Labor and the CLP have mercilessly thumped blackfellas
throughout the campaign under the guise of concern over “anti social
behaviour” – a new local euphemism for drunken boongs.

But
rather than crocs, it’s chickens making news in the Top End on election
eve. The independent Member for Nelson, Gerry Wood, has been distracted
from last minute campaigning by the alleged theft of four of his
chickens. Wood is concerned a chicken rustling operation is targeting
Darwin’s rural area.

Full ABC coverage of the Territory poll – including Antony Green’s election guide – is available here, while The Poll Bludger, William Bowe, has a comprehensive wrap of seats, candidates and likely outcomes here. A preoccupied Mumble Politics
comments: “From memory, Labor won with a low 48% of the two party
preferred vote in 2001. In line with other recent results, and going as
usual with the macro, I’m anticipating an easy win for the incumbent.
By definition, as the ALP had never won an election before 2001, an
increased majority means taking seats they never had before.”

Crikey psephologist Charles Richardson writes:

In
the short span allotted to the campaign, the Northern Territory
election has failed to throw up any real surprises. The most
interesting issue has been the Country Liberal Party’s promise to build
a 3,000km power line to bring electricity to Darwin from south-east
Queensland – as the ABC reports here.

It
is weirdly reminiscent of Colin Barnett’s surprise monster canal plan
from February’s WA election, and looks like bringing just as little
electoral benefit. The little polling there has been shows Labor well
in front, and the bookies now have them at a prohibitive 7-1 on.

The
key fact is that to win government, the CLP would have to undo Labor’s
clean sweep of the seven seats in Darwin’s northern suburbs, and there
are no signs of it doing so. On the contrary, it is likely that the new
Labor members will entrench themselves. The seats are so small that one
cannot rule out the possibility of one of them falling due to local
factors, but it doesn’t seem likely, and none of Labor’s other six
seats is even remotely in danger.

Of the CLP’s ten seats, four
have margins of over 15% – the three Palmerston seats, plus Katherine –
and therefore seem impregnable. But the other six are on the doubtful
list: Port Darwin (7.3%), in and around the Darwin CBD; Goyder (14.8%),
on Darwin’s southern fringe; Araluen (2%) and Greatorex (9%) in Alice
Springs; and two big rural seats, Macdonnell (8.5%) and Daly (9.5%).
Daly and Goyder are more marginal than they look because their sitting
members are retiring, and Goyder in particular could fall to an
independent. My thinking is that Labor will fall short in Port Darwin
and one of the rural seats (let’s say Macdonnell), but that this could
finally be its year in Alice Springs.

There are also two sitting
independents, in Nelson and Braitling; Loraine Braham in Braitling
could be in some difficulty, but my guess is that both of them will
hold on. That gives a likely new total of 16 Labor, six CLP and three
independents.