The three Aboriginal backbenchers who walked out on the Northern Territory government two weeks ago are seeking legal advice after the chief minister said he felt one member didn’t understand how government functions.
Alison Anderson, Larissa Lee and Francis Xavier Kurrupuwu resigned from the Country Liberal Party on April 4, and will sit on the crossbenches as independents during the May Parliamentary sittings.
They say they will create their own regional political party.
Chief Minister Adam Giles has made no secret of his disdain for Ms Anderson, and to a lesser degree Ms Lee, but says the door remains open for Mr Kurrupuwu to return to the CLP.
“I don’t know how well informed Francis is to date about some of the machinations of government, how that works, how policies are determined and put forward and the program implementation, the type of money we spend in each person’s electorate to try and make improvements and the level of commitment government has to improving the livelihoods for all territorians,” Mr Giles told ABC radio earlier this week.
“I think there might be some misrepresentations there, and the olive branch is still out, particularly for Francis.”
After winning a crucial by-election on Saturday, the CLP has ensured it can continue to govern with a one-seat majority, holding 13 seats in the 25-seat Legislative Assembly.
Mr Giles denied that he was encouraging Mr Kurrupuwu or Ms Lee back to the party because they were easily led and would provide a buffer in parliament.
But the trio are seeking legal advice over whether they can make an official complaint about Mr Giles’ criticism, with Ms Anderson telling ABC on Thursday that she found his comments very offensive.
“There is a standard in parliament and we quite clearly understand it, and that is absolutely insulting that he’s called us out on that,” she said.
“He’s said we’ve got no knowledge – we’re a very complex and educated group of people, we’re proud of our Aboriginality, we’ve been educated, and we can walk in both worlds.”
She is planning to create a “bush taskforce” to deliver policies for the whole of the NT, News Corp Australia reported, and is holding meetings in Darwin this week with Aboriginal groups and other agencies.