Aaron Bunch Journalist with Australian Associated Press | Collection of published work | + 61 484 008 119 | abunch@aap.com.au

Aaron Bunch
New NT chief minister to be revealed

The Northern Territory is expected to learn who its new chief minister will be following Michael Gunner’s surprise resignation on Tuesday.

May 13, 2022

The Northern Territory is expected to learn who its next chief minister will be following Michael Gunner’s surprise resignation from the top job.

The 46-year-old stood down moments after handing down the NT budget on Tuesday, saying his head and heart were no longer in the job.

Acting Chief Minister Nicole Manison declared soon after that Territory Labor’s 14 member caucus would announce a new leader on Friday.

So far, no one has publicly nominated for the top job but three possible contenders have emerged: police minister Ms Manison, health minister Natasha Fyles and backbencher Joel Bowden.

Right faction-member Ms Manison is favoured to replace Mr Gunner, who is also aligned with the right of the party.

But the left faction has also been trying to mount support for its senior member, Ms Fyles.

Former union boss and AFL player, 43-year-old Mr Bowden is also understood to also be considering running for the chief minister’s job.

The left and right factions each have six members with Attorney-General Selena Uibo and recently elected Dheran Young understood be unaligned. Mr Bowden is a member of the left.

Political economist Rolf Gerritsen believes the factions will do a deal before Friday’s vote.

“The votes are about even in caucus. They will agree that Manison remains chief minister, which makes the deputy position vacant and they will appoint someone from the left,” he told AAP.

“My guess is Bowden or Fyles will be deputy.”

If there is no deal and two or more Labor MPs nominate to contest the leadership, the ballot must be broadened to include rank and file members.

That would likely take weeks, potentially leaving the NT with an acting chief minister until well after the federal election.

It is understood the caucus will meet at parliament house in Darwin sometime on Friday morning. No other details have been provided.

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