2008 Northern Territory general election

General elections were held in the Northern Territory of Australia on 9 August 2008.[1] Of the 25 seats in the Legislative Assembly, 23 were contested; two safe Labor seats were uncontested. The incumbent centre-left Labor Party (ALP), led by Chief Minister Paul Henderson won a narrow third term victory against the opposition centre-right Country Liberal Party (CLP), led by Terry Mills. Labor suffered a massive and unexpected swing against it, to hold a one-seat majority in the new parliament.[2][3][4]

2008 Northern Territory general election

9 August 2008 (2008-08-09)

All 25 seats of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly
13 seats needed for a majority
Turnout75.7 ( 4.4 pp)
  First party Second party
Leader Paul Henderson Terry Mills
Party Labor Country Liberal
Last election 19 seats 4 seats
Seats won 13 seats 11 seats
Seat change 6 7
Popular vote 39,415 40,614
Percentage 49.3% 50.7%
Swing 9.2 9.2
TPP 49.3% 50.7%
TPP 9.2pp 9.2pp

Results by electoral division.

Chief Minister before election

Paul Henderson

Elected Chief Minister

Paul Henderson


13 1 11

Northern Territory general election, 9 August 2008[5]
Legislative Assembly
<< 20052012 >>

Enrolled voters 110,289
Votes cast 83,436 Turnout 75.65% –5.70%
Informal votes 3,407 Informal 4.08% +0.34%
Summary of votes by party
Party Primary votes  % Swing Seats Change
  Labor 34,557 43.18% –8.76% 13 – 6
  Country Liberal 36,334 45.40% +9.67% 11 + 7
  Independent 5,696 7.12% –0.32% 1 – 1
  Greens 3,442 4.30% +0.13% 0 ± 0
Total 80,029     25  
  Labor 39,415 49.3% –9.2%
  Country Liberal 40,614 50.7% +9.2%

Independents: Gerry Wood

Arnhem and MacDonnell were won by the ALP by default as no other candidates nominated, and therefore do not contribute to votes in the above result table. The Greens ran in six of the 25 seats, averaging around 16 percent.[6] Minister for Natural Resources, Environment and Heritage, Minister for Parks and Wildlife Len Kiely was defeated as was Minister for Sport and Recreation, Corporate and Information Services Matthew Bonson.

Popular vote
Country Liberal
Two-party-preferred vote
Country Liberal
Country Liberal


The CLP had dominated the Legislative Assembly from its creation in 1974 until 2001, when Clare Martin led Labor to government by one seat. Four years later, Labor was reelected in a landslide that surprised even the most optimistic Labor observers, reducing the CLP to only four seats. Labor even managed to oust Opposition Leader Denis Burke in his own seat. Martin resigned in 2007, shortly after a federal intervention, and was succeeded by Education Minister Paul Henderson.

In January 2008, Opposition Leader Jodeen Carney faced a challenge from her deputy, Terry Mills. Carney rebuffed a proposal to swap posts with Mills (in which she would have become deputy leader under Mills), instead calling a spill. When the vote was tied, Carney declared that a tie vote was not a vote of confidence and resigned, leaving Mills to take the leadership unopposed. Hoping to take advantage of a booming economy and the recent change in opposition leadership, Henderson opted to call an election a year before it was due.

The writs were dropped only days after the gazetting of new electoral boundaries. The Electoral Commission didn't have nearly enough time to notify voters of their new electorates, and a number of Labor MPs swept into office on the back of the 2005 landslide were unable to connect with new constituents on the hustings.

The CLP regained much of what it had lost in its severe beating of three years prior. Notably, it retook two seats in Palmerston that it had lost to Labor in the 2005 landslide. While the CLP won a slim majority of the two-party vote (aided by two Labor incumbents being reelected unopposed), Labor retained all but one seat in northern Darwin, allowing it to win a third term. Labor was only assured of reelection when it won Martin's old seat of Fannie Bay by a narrow 78 votes.

Key dates

  • Issue of writ: 22 July
  • Close of roll: 8pm 24 July
  • Close of nominations: 12 noon 28 July
  • Postal voting commences: 31 July
  • Pre-poll voting commences: 4 August
  • Polling Day: 9 August

Retiring members

The following members did not seek another term at the election.


  • Clare Martin (Fannie Bay)
  • Elliot McAdam (Barkly)
  • Syd Stirling (Nhulunbuy)

Country Liberal

  • Fay Miller (Katherine)


  • Loraine Braham (Braitling)


Sitting members are listed in bold. Successful candidates are highlighted in the relevant colour.

Electorate Held by Labor candidate CLP candidate Greens candidate Independent candidates
ArafuraLaborMarion ScrymgourTristan Mungatopi
Angie Siebert
Jone Lotu
AraluenCLPJohn GaynorJodeen CarneyLinda Chellew
ArnhemLaborMalarndirri McCarthy
BarklyLaborGerry McCarthyMick AdamsRandall Gould
Barry Nattrass
BlainCLPKen VowlesTerry Mills
BraitlingIndependentAaron DickAdam GilesJane ClarkEli Melky
BrennanLaborJames BurkePeter Chandler
CasuarinaLaborKon VatskalisGary Haslett
DalyLaborRob KnightWayne ConnopDavid PollockAugust Stevens
DrysdaleCLPChris NattRoss BohlinJustin Tutty
Fannie BayLaborMichael GunnerGarry Lambert
Fong LimLaborMatthew BonsonDave Tollner
GoyderCLPTed WarrenKezia Purick
GreatorexCLPJo NixonMatt ConlanLenny Aronsten
JohnstonLaborChris BurnsJo Sangster
KaramaLaborDelia LawrieTony BacusDorothy Fox
Natalie Hunter
KatherineCLPSharon HillenWillem Westra van HoltheToni Tapp Coutts
MacdonnellLaborAlison Anderson
NelsonIndependentJustine Luders-SearleMaureen KohlmanGerry Wood
NhulunbuyLaborLynne WalkerDjwalpi Marika
NightcliffLaborJane AagaardPeter ManningEmma Young
Port DarwinLaborKerry SacilottoJohn ElferinkGary Abbott
SandersonLaborLen KielyPeter Styles
StuartLaborKarl HamptonRex Granites Japanangka
WanguriLaborPaul HendersonKerry KyriacouDuncan Dean

Seats changing hands

Seat Pre-2008 Swing Post-2008
Party Member Margin Margin Member Party
Braitling   Independent Loraine Braham 0.9 N/A 23.6* Adam Giles Country Liberal  
Brennan   Labor James Burke 0.6 3.4 2.7 Peter Chandler Country Liberal  
Drysdale**   Labor Chris Natt −0.5 9.6 10.1 Ross Bohlin Country Liberal  
Fong Lim   Labor notional - new seat 11.5 13.7 2.2 Dave Tollner Country Liberal  
Goyder**   Labor Ted Warren -0.5 7.4 7.9 Kezia Purick Country Liberal  
Port Darwin   Labor Kerry Sacilotto 1.9 5.0 3.0 John Elferink Country Liberal  
Sanderson   Labor Len Kiely 10.0 17.4 7.4 Peter Styles Country Liberal  
  • Members listed in italics did not contest their seat at this election.
  • *Braitling's second figure is CLP vs. Labor
  • **Due to boundary changes, Drysdale and Goyder were notionally CLP at the time of this election. However, as they were held by members of the ALP at this time, they are still included in this table.

Electoral pendulum

The following pendulum is known as the Mackerras pendulum, invented by psephologist Malcolm Mackerras. The pendulum works by lining up all of the seats held in the Legislative Assembly according to the percentage point margin they are held by on a two-party-preferred basis. This is also known as the swing required for the seat to change hands. Given a uniform swing to the opposition or government parties, the number of seats that change hands can be predicted.[7][8]

Pre-election pendulum

Incumbent members who have become and remained an independent since the 2012 election are indicated in grey.

Members listed in italics did not re-contest their seat at the election.

Labor seats
Brennan James Burke ALP 0.6
Port Darwin Kerry Sacilotto ALP 1.9
Fairly safe
Sanderson Len Kiely ALP 10.0
Fong Lim Matthew Bonson ALP 11.5
Fannie Bay Clare Martin ALP 15.7
Nightcliff Jane Aagaard ALP 15.7
Daly Robert Knight ALP 15.8
Karama Delia Lawrie ALP 16.0
Macdonnell Alison Anderson ALP 16.5
Johnston Chris Burns ALP 16.8
Casuarina Kon Vatskalis ALP 18.3
Stuart Karl Hampton ALP 18.9
Very safe
Wanguri Paul Henderson ALP 20.8
Arnhem Malarndirri McCarthy ALP 21.3
Arafura Marion Scrymgour ALP 23.6
Barkly Elliot McAdam ALP 24.2
Nhulunbuy Syd Stirling ALP 25.5
Country Liberal seats
Greatorex Matt Conlan CLP 0.4
Drysdale Chris Natt CLP 0.5
Goyder Ted Warren CLP 0.5
Katherine Fay Miller CLP 2.7
Blain Terry Mills CLP 5.7
Fairly safe
Araluen Jodeen Carney CLP 7.5
Independent seats
Braitling Loraine Braham IND 0.9 v CLP
Nelson Gerry Wood IND 16.6 v CLP

Post-election pendulum

Labor seats
Fannie Bay Michael Gunner ALP 1.1
Daly Robert Knight ALP 5.6
Fairly safe
Johnston Chris Burns ALP 8.1
Nightcliff Jane Aagaard ALP 10.7
Karama Delia Lawrie ALP 10.8
Arafura Marion Scrymgour ALP 14.0
Casuarina Kon Vatskalis ALP 14.2
Wanguri Paul Henderson ALP 14.9
Stuart Karl Hampton ALP 15.1
Barkly Gerry McCarthy ALP 15.6
Very safe
Nhulunbuy Lynne Walker ALP 24.2
Arnhem Malarndirri McCarthy ALP Unopp
Macdonnell Alison Anderson ALP Unopp
Country Liberal seats
Fong Lim Dave Tollner CLP 2.1
Brennan Peter Chandler CLP 2.6
Port Darwin John Elferink CLP 2.8
Fairly safe
Sanderson Peter Styles CLP 6.4
Goyder Kezia Purick CLP 8.4
Katherine Willem W-v-Holthe CLP 8.4
Drysdale Ross Bohlin CLP 10.1
Blain Terry Mills CLP 11.6
Greatorex Matt Conlan CLP 16.5
Very safe
Braitling Adam Giles CLP 20.3 v GRN
Araluen Jodeen Carney CLP 24.7
Independent seats
Nelson Gerry Wood IND 28.7 v CLP


  1. "NT election on 9 August". Ntnews.com.au. 21 July 2008. Retrieved 27 January 2012.
  2. "Mills concedes defeat in NT election". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 11 August 2008. Retrieved 27 January 2012.
  3. 5 Minutes 10 Minutes. "Opposition concedes NT election". Theaustralian.news.com.au. Retrieved 27 January 2012.
  4. "Labor narrowly wins NT election". News.smh.com.au. 11 August 2008. Retrieved 27 January 2012.
  5. "Details of NT 2008 Election" (PDF). ABC.
  6. "Henderson denies NT leadership an issue". News.theage.com.au. 12 August 2008. Retrieved 27 January 2012.
  7. "2008 Redistribution". ABC.
  8. "Details of NT 2008 Election" (PDF). ABC.

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