back to top

17 Scandals That Prove The NT Government Is Completely Ridiculous

Homophobic slurs, microwaved garlic bread and a masturbating MP.

Posted on

1. Everyone was shocked and horrified when images of children being abused in detention centres were uncovered last week, which led to a royal commission into the NT juvenile justice system.

Neda Vanovac / AAPIMAGE

Chief minister Adam Giles effectively sacked the corrections minister John Elferink, claiming he hadn't seen the images because there was a "culture of cover up" in the Corrections Department.

Giles went on to question whether the ABC Four Corners investigation was part of a Labor plot against his government, four weeks from an election he is bound to lose.

So while people raise questions about whether the NT is a "failed state", it's useful to run through the current government's long list of ridiculous political scandals. It leaves one wondering how the Country Liberal Party (CLP) could have packed so much dysfunction into one four-year term.

2. It all started going wrong when the government booted its party leader, Terry Mills, when he wasn't even in the country.

Neda Vanovac / AAPIMAGE

That's right. Terry Mills (second from right), who had led the Country Liberals back into government for the first time since 2001, was knifed by Adam Giles after a poor byelection result in 2013.

Adding insult to injury, Mills was in Japan at the time and was told that he'd been replaced over the phone.


4. But that's not all. Earlier that year, Tollner was also engaged in a war of words with Indigenous members of the CLP after it was revealed he called two women "lubras" (a derogatory word meaning "black dirty women") at a Christmas function.

Mick Tsikas / AAPIMAGE

Tollner's political career is effectively now over after losing CLP pre-selection for the August election.

7. The CLP nearly completely split apart during a crisis surrounding tourism minister Matt Conlan in 2014. Conlan allegedly called colleague Alison Anderson a "fucking cunt" during a party meeting. He later resigned and will not re-contest the election.


8. Also that year, Country Liberal member for Arnhem, Larisa Lee, was involved in a family sex scandal that spilled out into public. Lee avoided jail after pleading guilty in court to physically assaulting her niece who had slept with her partner.

9. Earlier that year, Lee caused the evacuation of a Darwin hotel after trying to re-heat a loaf of garlic bread in a microwave. The hotel was filled with smoke and Lee paid $2,000 in damages.

Large sink hole near Balma, East Arnhem Region ...

More recently, Lee, who became an independent MLA, was charged for allowing her unlicensed nephew to drive her taxpayer-funded car.


12. In 2015, dumped health minister Robyn Lambley quit the Country Liberal Party entirely, warning women against joining what she called a "boy's club".

ABC News

"We have almost three years of the politics of hate, discord and lies. The air is heavy with the weight of misinformation and the fantasies spewed out by [Adam Giles] and his propaganda machine," said Lambley.

13. Two months earlier, Lambley was part of a disastrous midnight coup against chief minister Adam Giles.

AAP Images

It was high farce: Willem Westra van Holthe (right) claimed he'd won a partyroom ballot to be the new chief minister in a 1am press conference.

The next day Adam Giles refused to resign.

Two days later Giles was voted back in at an emergency partyroom meeting.

15. Giles raised eyebrows in Canberra when he announced that a Chinese company was being granted a 99-year lease to the Darwin port, adding that xenophobia (or fear of foreigners) was "part of the Australian spirit".

16. Oh, and then there was controversial court magistrate Peter Maley. In 2014, Maley resigned just 11 months after being appointed to the bench after allegations that he'd offered a formal client access to secret government documents in return for a $10,000 donation to the CLP.

Mark Di Stefano is a media and politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Mark Di Stefano at

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.