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NT Labor set to stay ... with a little help -

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NT Labor set to stay ... with a little help

Sara Everingham reported this story on Friday, August 14, 2009 12:26:00

ASHLEY HALL: To the Northern Territory where the Labor Government is set to retain power by
narrowly scraping through a no-confidence vote today.

The independent politician who holds the deciding vote, Gerry Wood, has just told the Legislative
Assembly he'll vote with Labor and will also support the Government's budget bills.

The political crisis was brought about by the failure of a major Indigenous housing program to
deliver any houses in two years of operation.

And today the Opposition has attacked the Government on its Indigenous policy record.

Sara Everingham reports.

SARA EVERINGHAM: It's been an uncertain couple of weeks for the Northern Territory's Chief Minister
Paul Henderson.

Now the suspense is over. The independent Gerry Wood has let him off the hook and will support
Labor through a no-confidence vote today.

GERRY WOOD: Madame Speaker today is a day that I have not asked for. It is a day I would prefer was
not mine. It is a day that I cannot avoid. It is a day that will not go away. It is a day where I
will make a decision because that is my responsibility.

SARA EVERINGHAM: The crisis began when the former minister for Indigenous Affairs Alison Anderson
quit the Labor party last week.

The Government needs Gerry Wood's support to stay in power. He told the Legislative Assembly today
he will vote with Labor today and support the Government's budget bills.

GERRY WOOD: Let me make it very clear. I have not joined the Labor Party in any shape or form. Nor
do I intend to. I will remain as an independent outside of Government and will continue to sit on
the cross benches.

SARA EVERINGHAM: Alison Anderson says she quit the Labor Party because she'd lost faith in the
ability of her Government to deliver services for Indigenous people.

She expressed concerns that the Territory Government was creaming too much money off a $700 million
federal housing scheme known as SIHIP (Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Program)
which hasn't delivered a single house in two years.

Her departure has focused national attention on SIHIP but now she's in a much less powerful
position to effect change.

This morning she said she was comfortable with her actions.

ALISON ANDERSON: I didn't go out of the Labor Party for anything except to escape from a machine
that was absorbing freedom of speech with the propaganda and spin and I'm happy where I am. It's
like I've been freed out of prison.

SARA EVERINGHAM: The Opposition leader Terry Mills opened the debate in the Legislative Assembly
today saying the Government had failed Indigenous people.

TERRY MILLS: And it is only a matter of time before another Labor member will no longer be willing
to be complicit in the waste, the delay and the deceit of this dysfunctional Government.

I just wonder how long members opposite will be willing to tolerate their Government's failure to
deliver child protection workers for kids at risk, teachers to push schools or desperately needed
houses for Indigenous communities.

SARA EVERINGHAM: But the Chief Minister Paul Henderson dismissed the concerns.

PAUL HENDERSON: Because blame doesn't fix the problems; solutions fix problems and we've been
working hard on finding and implementing the answers to the huge challenges we do have in
Indigenous Affairs.

SARA EVERINGHAM: Paul Henderson might have Gerry Wood's support today but he still leads a minority

The Opposition's Terry Mills thinks that's unworkable.

TERRY MILLS: I say please Gerry be a man of your word and support this motion of no-confidence in
the Henderson Government. And I say to this House, end the instability, end the divisive reign of
the Henderson Government. Support the motion.

HOUSE MEMBERS: Hear, hear.

HOUSE SPEAKER: I call the Chief Minister.

SARA EVERINGHAM: The Chief Minister Paul Henderson has spent the past two weeks reassuring
Territorians his Government is stable and continued pushing that line this morning.

PAUL HENDERSON: Of course Madame Speaker, Territorians want stability. Territorians want certainty.

SARA EVERINGHAM: The vote will take place later today once all 25 members of the Territory's
Legislative Assembly have had their say.

ASHLEY HALL: Sara Everingham reports.