Northern Territory: New Gunner Labor Ministry

Michael Gunner, the new Chief Minister of the Northern Territory announced his first Cabinet of three, on 1 September, following Labor’s victory in the NT election held on 27 August 2016.

On 11 September 2016, today, he announced his second Cabinet; the new Ministers are listed below, with some short biographies*.

Had Lynne Walker been re-elected the Member for Nhulunbuy, she would have been Deputy Chief Minister, and the closeness of the vote in that election delayed finalisation of the full Ministry.

All other Labor MPs have been made Assistant Ministers, listed below, and the Government has decided to support the current Speaker, former CLP MLA Kezia Purick, continuing in that role.

The new Gunner Government has moved rapidly to terminate Chief Executives, amalgamate agencies, and implement other Machinery of Government changes:

The election for a Legislative Assembly of 25 saw the Country-Liberal Party government of Adam Giles reduced to 2 seats, Labor secure 18, and independents have 5.  Of the 25, twelve are women; 6 identify as being of aboriginal descent.  Of the Cabinet of 8, 5 are women – a majority; 1 identifies as being of aboriginal descent.

This is the greatest proportion of women in any legislature** of any Australian jurisdiction, ever, and the (equal) greatest proportion of indigenous members in any legislature** of any Australian jurisdiction, ever – matching part of the 2005 to 2008 term of the NT Legislative Assembly.


Michael Gunner
Chief Minister and Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services, Aboriginal Affairs, Trade, Business and Innovation, and Northern Development
Member for Fannie Bay

Michael Gunner is a fourth generation Territorian whose family have lived and worked here since the 1930’s.  Born on 6 January 1976 in Alice Springs, he is the first Northern Territory-born Chief Minister.  He was educated in Alice Springs and Tennant Creek, and Darwin and Northern Territory University.  He has represented the Territory in Rugby Union and at various times has played cricket for PINTS, and soccer for the Verdi Club in Alice Springs.  Michael has previously worked stocking shelves at Woolworths, as a union organiser, an electorate officer, and a ministerial adviser.  He was first elected in August 2008 and became Labor Leader in April 2015.  Michael’s partner is Kristy O’Brien.
Nicole was born in 1979 in Tennant Creek and grew up in her Wanguri electorate. She attended local schools including Holy Spirit School, Dripstone Middle School and Casuarina Senior College before attending Curtin University in Perth and securing a Bachelor of Mass Communication. Nicole has been the Member for Wanguri since February 2013 when she won the seat in a by-election. Prior to entering Parliament, she worked for PowerWater and government departments in a range of Communications and Human Resource, as an adviser to several Ministers in the previous Labor Government, and in the private sector in Perth. Nicole plays and coaches for Waratah Netball Club, and lives in her electorate with her husband Scott Mc Neill, and son Aiden.
Nicole Manison
Deputy Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Infrastructure, Planning, and Logistics, and Minister for Children
Member for Wanguri

Natasha Fyles
Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Minister for Health and the Leader of Government Business
Member for Nightcliff

Natasha was born at the old Darwin hospital on 26 May 1978, grew up in the Northern suburbs and lives with her husband Paul Archbold and sons Oliver and Henry in Nightcliff. She went to school in Darwin, and after completing her teaching degree at University of Canberra, returned to Darwin as a teacher for five years before travelling and working overseas. Natasha became Executive Director of Royal Life Saving Society NT and was active in the community including local swimming clubs, and Vice President of Nightcliff Family Childcare Centre. She also worked as an aquatic administration assistant for the 2000 Sydney Olympics, and as a public servant. She was first elected in 2012.
First elected in 2008, Gerry McCarthy is the only member of Cabinet with previous Ministerial experience: in the course or several reshuffles he had responsibility for Transport, Correctional Services, Arts and Museums, Senior Territorians, Young Territorians, Lands and Planning, and Construction. Gerry was born on 30 June 1958, and worked for 28 years, mostly as a teacher in remote schools, and in and around Borroloola and Tennant Creek. He played a key role in founding five Barkly schools and is active in many sporting, cultural and arts initiatives throughout the region. mccarthy_gerry

Gerry McCarthy
Minister for Housing and Community Development, Minister for Essential Services and Minister for Public Employment
Member for Barkly


Ken Vowles
Minister for Primary Industry and Resources
Member for Johnston

Ken grew up as part of a huge Territory family, born on 29 September 1971 in Darwin. He attended pre-school and school in Jingili, and later won a scholarship to spend a year at the Australian Cricket Academy. He is a former Australian Under-17s and Under-19s cricketer and he played A grade cricket in Adelaide for many years. As an under 19 Ken scored the then fastest ever century at the MCG; he’s also represented the NT in numerous cricket competitions and has coached and played in Malaysia. Before entering parliament Vowles set up and ran a specialist cricket coaching centre in Darwin. He was one of three indigenous cricketers to take part in a Chief Ministers XI cricket match against a touring Bangladesh team at Marrara in July 2003. Ken has a wide range of experience working with disadvantaged people and communities across the Territory. His successful candidacy in 2012 was marred by controversy over his spent assault conviction from a fight in 1992.
Lauren was born in Crewe, United Kingdom, on 6 May 1987, and emigrated to Australia in 1999. She grew up in Nakara where her parents have taught in local schools, and Her Bachelor of Business was gained through Charles Darwin University and Monash University. Prior to entering politics, she ran a small business providing professional development and worked as a project officer at Headspace, providing mental health services support. Her community and youth development work have been recognised locally and nationally. She was honoured to receive the Excellence in Youth Leadership award at the NT Young Achiever Awards, the NT Pride of Australia Young Leader Medal. She was a finalist in the NT Young Australian of the Year, Darwin City Council Young Citizen of the Year and the Australian Woman’s Weekly Women of the Future. When elected to Parliament in 2014, she became the youngest ever Northern Territory Member of Parliament, and the second of Indian descent. Her partner is Jake Lutz. moss-lauren

Lauren Moss
Minister for Environment and Natural Resources, Minister for Tourism and Culture and Minister for Corporate Information Services
Member for Wanguri

Eva Lawler
Minister for Education
Member for Drysdale

Lawler was born and bred in Darwin: her family was evacuated after Cyclone Tracey but returned shortly afterwards, and she then started her secondary education at Darwin High School. She completed a Bachelor of Education at what was Darwin Community College. She started teaching at Berry Springs Primary School in the 1980’s, then worked at Gray Primary School, Humpty Doo Primary School, Anula Primary School and became Principal at Jingili Primary School. Lawler has also worked as a Health Educator within the Education Department promoting health and wellbeing in schools. While teaching she completed a Masters in Education and a Masters in International Management, a Diploma in Project Management and an Associate Diploma in Public Service Management. Lawler has worked in executive roles in Education in Alice Springs and as Deputy Chief Executive School Education for the whole of the Territory, and was Education Adviser to Paul Henderson and Marion Scrymgour. Until recently Lawler worked in the Department of Sport and Recreation where she was responsible for leading the delivery of high-level sporting events such as the Mitchell Street Mile, Davis Cup Tennis, NRL and Alice Springs Masters Games. She has represented the NT in hockey, including 3 years as Captain. Eva is married to Tom Lawler, a long-term Territory firefighter and has two adult children, daughter Kirby and son Lindsay.
Dale was born and raised in Melbourne, attending local public schools, then securing a social work degree after attending Latrobe and Monash Universities. She moved to Alice Springs in 2004 after working in road trauma rehabilitation for many years, and lives in Braitling with her partner Gary and son Jimmy. Dale has over 25 years’ experience in the health, disability, and domestic violence sectors, in both the private and public sectors. She has been a member of the Alice Springs Health Governing Council and was Chairwoman and Board member of Central Australian Women’s Legal Service. She has represented the NT on several national bodies. Over the last 8 years, she has led the Alice Springs Women’s Shelter to become a nationally recognised and award-winning service, and she was recognised in the 2015 Telstra Business Women Awards, with Dale named an NT finalist. Dale Wakefield

Dale Wakefield
Minister for Territory Families
Member for Braitling

Assistant Ministers
  • Ngaree Ah Kit is Assistant Minister for Suicide Prevention, Mental health and Disabilities, and the Assistant Minister for Seniors and Youth.
  • Jeff Collins is Assistant Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services, Assistant Minister for Primary Industry & Resources and will chair the Government’s small business round tables.
  • Lawrence Costa is Assistant Minister for Remote Health Delivery and Homelands.
  • Paul Kirby is Assistant Minister for our Buy Local strategy, for The Museum Master Plan and for A Vibrant Darwin CBD. Paul has also been elected Government Whip.
  • Scott McConnell is Assistant Minister for Remote Housing Delivery, Arts Trails and for Indigenous Tourism Participation.
  • Sandra Nelson is Assistant Minister for the Prevention of Family violence and Women’s Policy.
  • Tony Sievers is Assistant Minister for Veterans Affairs, Men’s Policy and Sports and Community Events.
  • Chansey Paech is Assistant Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and the Iconic Indigenous Art Gallery.  
  • Selena Uibo is Assistant Minister for Remote Education and Families as First Teachers, Aboriginal Affairs and Minister Assisting the Chief Minister on Statehood.
  • Kate Worden is Assistant Minister for Bringing Back the Arafura Games and Multicultural Affairs.



*    These biographies were sourced from the Northern Territory ALP website here, the ABC’s Antony Green’s NT election website here, Wikipedia, here, and personal knowledge.
** Technically it isn’t a Parliament.


About Mike Smith

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Posted on September 11, 2016, in Change, Chief Minister, Democracy, Election, Michael Gunner, Northern Territory, Parliament, Politics and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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