Territory Stories

The Northern Territory news Sat 30 May 2020



The Northern Territory news Sat 30 May 2020

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NT news


The Northern Territory news; NewspaperNT






Community newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin.; Australian newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin.

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News Corp Australia

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Copyright. Made available by the publisher under licence.

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News Corp Australia



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10 OPINION SATURDAY MAY 30 2020 NTNE01Z01MA - V1 swallowed up by the hefty losses on their property. Theyre unable to move in search of a better paid job as they cant afford to take a loss on the sale of their home. The big danger for Labor is that the frustration these people are feeling will be taken out at the ballot box. And Labor has little margin here for error. Sievers margin in Brennan is just 2.8 per cent, while Eva Lawler has a 5.2 per cent buffer in Drysdale. If the swing is on in Palmerston then both these seats could fall. That will depend, of course, on whether the CLP and Territory Alliance can play nice. And that remains a big if. Voters below the Berrimah line will play a huge part in this years poll, quite possibly deciding whether Labor wins a majority IF you ever want to take the weathervane of Territory politics, you need only venture out to Palmerston. For the past two decades this growing satellite city has swung often wildly with the NTs political mood. The seats of Brennan and Drysdale swung to Labor in the 2005 landslide, back to the CLP when Labor just hung on in 2008, then back to Labor in the massacre of 2016. These voters have also decided the federal seat of Solomon. Theres a reason Palmerston has a brand new, state-of-the-art hospital and its not because of need. Less than three months out from the Territory election, Palmerston will be crucial in deciding the result. With 16 seats, Labor needs only lose four and its majority is gone. Katherine and Braitling will almost certainly fall and one of Barkly and Port Darwin will also likely go. Lose one or both of Brennan and Drysdale and the ALP could be cooked. Labor will have the advantage of incumbency in these seats. In Territory politics, candidates have often benefitted from a sophomore surge if theyve spent the past four years working hard on the ground. Our small electorates mean politicians can meet all of their constituents at least once during a term of government, and personal appeal can often trump party politics. Michael Gunner, for example, won Fannie Bay by just 76 votes in 2008, keeping Labor in power in the process. In 2012, despite a Territory-wide swing to the CLP, he increased this margin to 539 votes with a 5.7 per cent swing in his favour. Labor is banking on a similar performance from Tony thumbs-up Sievers in Brennan. Sievers is a hard bloke not to like and without the burden of a cabinet position hes been able to attend the opening of every envelope in his electorate since the election. But his personal popularity might struggle to overcome the other issues on the minds of Palmerston voters. They might have a shiny new hospital and police station, but its the bricks and mortar of their own homes that will be of most concern. As the NTs economy boomed at the beginning of the 2010s, hard working Territorians scrimped and saved in a desperate bid to get a foot in the rapidly rising Top End property market. Many of these new homeowners flocked to Palmerston where a family home was still relatively affordable. This looked a good investment as house prices rose 36 per cent in the five years to March 2014. But then the rot started to set in. It was already being felt when vot ers went to the polls in 2016. Since then its become far worse. In the five years to March 2019 house prices had fallen 19 per cent and unit prices 40 per cent. For those who bought anywhere near the peak of the market this has had a devastating consequence. They now find themselves in negative equity. A situation where their home is worth less often by hundreds of thousands of dollars than the amount of their mortgage. Its difficult to get a clear picture of how many people are in this situation. In response to a written question last year from the CLPs Gary Higgins, Treasurer Nicole Manison revealed 60 per cent of Australias negative equity cases are in Western Australia and the Northern Territory. There was no breakdown, however, between jurisdictions or regions. Anecdotally there have been reports that about 50 per cent of Palmerston properties are underwater. Its been a frustrating battle for the people in this situation. Their savings have effective been Palmo holds the election MATT CUNNINGHAM Palmerston has a brand new hospital but its not because it needs one, its because its in a swing-voting seat Picture: SUPPLIED