Yesterday local Darwin broadcaster and former Country Liberal Party Minister Darryl Manzie read out this letter he had received from a (very) disaffected CLP Member addressed to the current Chief Minister Terry Mills.

You can hear the orignal broadcast and the response from current Chief Minister Terry Mills here.

Dear Chief Minister and Members of the Country Liberal Party,

I write this not only as a member of the Country Liberal Party but as a genuinely concerned citizen of the Northern Territory.

Since the election of the Country Liberals Government I am completely and utterly shocked at the level of contempt shown for the general public and the misguided approach taken at addressing some of the most serious issues facing the Northern Territory.

Firstly let me get a few things straight, a protest in Wanguri was the only way people felt that this Government would have a hope in hell of listening, sadly a view shared by many supporters of the CLP at the last election and even members.

Furthermore by having a strong candidate in Rhianna [Harker] who I believe should bear no responsibility for the result the party’s leadership must do more than simply say that they have heard the message.

They must act on it, continuing with the status quo is not an option.

Statements by the Chief Minister such as “I understand and accept the result and will continue to work with Territorians to take us to a better place” are not only unacceptable but downright offensive considering the immediate financial hardship and pain inflicted on a large portion of the community.

Where is this better place one must ask and who is it we need to trust, if members of the County Liberal Party don’t even know, how on earth with the general public?

Try telling the Leanyer family of five on one income facing the massive hit in utilities that.

What about the single Mums and Dads or the most vulnerable in our society?

There has been no consideration given to these people.

Where are the concessions and/or the rebates or the boost in funding to charities that are forced to pick up the pieces?

The lack of communication and compassion by this Government is bordering on outright contempt for the people of the Northern Territory and I hate to say it but I am embarrassed even ashamed to say I am a Member of this Party.

Unfortunately after campaigning on lowering the cost of living the Party has forfeited its right to balance the budget as a matter of priority and should realise it is not in a position to balance the budget over people’s livelihoods.

Additionally by campaigning strongly against the Federal Government’s Carbon Tax and reiterating how unTerritorian it is, the Party really has no right to claim any moral high ground.

Also repeated references prior to the August election regarding the high cost of living and the terrible fact that as many as 4000 people were forced out of the Territory reeks of hypocrisy reinforcing the perceived breach of trust and lack of leadership on the issue.

To this end the Government has no legs to stand on when it decided to hike utilities in the manner in which it did.

It therefore has no other option but to implement them strategically over time or at the very least consider rebates as a token of good will and understanding in order to save face and gain trust with the electorate – and in brackets he says – a massive task.

I am of the view that our once great grass roots Party has gone into voluntary administration where bookkeepers and bureaucrats are setting the policy agenda of the Government leaving members of the Party and the public in the dark.

Where is the Leadership of this Party?

It should surely not rest with bookkeepers on lucrative contracts behind closed doors nor should the final say rest with any bureaucrats.

Without mentioning words, the decision to appoint a Renewal Management Board and reward them with high remuneration and power is totally unacceptable.

This decision is by far the most damaging decision to ever affect this Party and is repulsed by not only members of this Party but by a huge majority of the public.

It has totally removed the moral authority of the Chief Minister on key issues such as cost of living and accountability.< Also it has reinforced some old view, rightly or wrongly, that the Country Liberals are a self-serving boys club out of touch with the electorate. So where to from here? It’s time to man up and get real, acknowledging the pain and hurt inflicted on people, acknowledging that mistakes have been made and wrong advice taken. As a matter of priority the trust of members of this Party and the public must be regained through:

1. Terminating the Renewal Management Board and restoring the full role of the unpartisan NT Treasury.

2. Incrementally rebating utility bills, giving people adequate time to adjust.

3. Providing additional utility concessions for charitable organisations.

4. Engage in the community, involve them in positive long term vision for the Northern Territory.

5. Reviewing all cutbacks to essential services while improving consultation with stakeholders prior to any others.

6. Allocating Ministers with Ministries according to merit and not numbers by working together that more closely as a team.

7. Apologising to members of this party for not communicating with them or involving them in the implementation of Government policy despite their tireless and dedicated efforts in getting the Government elected, and

8. Apologising to the public for not adequately listening and acknowledging their concerns.

Make no mistakes, its do or die time for this Party, take your pick.

It’s either a Renewal Management Board and savage ill measured cuts or a sustainable future for this Party.

The manner in which utility price hikes were implemented must be reviewed and urgent action taken. No words can express how serious this situation is.

While it’s encouraging a few policy reverses have already occurred, the core issues outlined above remain and must not be ignored.

Let’s sort this out and together moving forward the countless positive and productive initiative this Party has worked so hard for.

The contribution of members should never be ignored, nor should the many years in Opposition. It’s time for true and united leadership.

Let’s stand up and fight the good fight.



Get more Crikey, for less

It’s more than a newsletter. It’s where readers expect more – fearless journalism from a truly independent perspective. We don’t pander to anyone’s party biases. We question everything, explore the uncomfortable and dig deeper.

Join us this week for 50% off a year of Crikey.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
50% off