1987 Northern Territory general election

A general election was held in the Northern Territory, Australia on Saturday 7 March 1987. Although the incumbent Country Liberal Party (CLP) won a majority under new leader Stephen Hatton, the party's vote was down almost 20 percentage points.

1987 Northern Territory general election

 1983 7 March 1987 (1987-03-07) 1990 

All 25 seats of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly
13 seats needed for a majority
Turnout71.2 ( 10.4 pp)
  First party Second party Third party
Leader Stephen Hatton Terry Smith Ian Tuxworth
Party Country Liberal Labor Nationals
Leader since 14 May 1986 19 August 1986 21 December 1986
Leader's seat Nightcliff Millner Barkly
Last election 19 seats 6 seats Did not exist
Seats won 16 seats 6 seats 1 seat
Seat change 3 0 1
Percentage 39.4% 36.0% 17.1%
Swing 18.8 0.4 17.1%

Chief Minister before election

Stephen Hatton
Country Liberal

Elected Chief Minister

Stephen Hatton
Country Liberal

At the 1987 election, the CLP faced a challenge from the Northern Territory Nationals, a rebel conservative party led by former CLP Chief Minister Ian Tuxworth that was aligned with then-Queensland Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen, but not affiliated with the federal National Party of Australia. The NT Nationals took 17.79% of the primary vote, mostly from the CLP, but finished with only one member in the assembly. Hatton, despite a loss of three seats, retained a working majority.

Labor's vote remained virtually unchanged. As in 1983, its assembly tally was six.

Two former-CLP independents were re-elected in their seats. Noel Padgham-Purich was re-elected to Koolpinyah, while Denis Collins was re-elected to Sadadeen as an independent. Former Chief Minister Ian Tuxworth was also re-elected as a member of the NT Nationals.

Ian Tuxworth's election to the seat of Barkly was declared void after independent candidate Maggie Hickey challenged the result on the basis that the Labor candidate, Keith Hallet, held British nationality and was not an Australian citizen. Due to the close result (Tuxworth had won by only 19 votes), Justice John Nader voided the election on 30 July 1987, and a by-election was held on 5 September 1987, at which Tuxworth regained the seat.[1]


16 1 2 6
CLP Nat Ind Labor

Northern Territory general election, 7 March 1987[2]
Legislative Assembly
<< 19831990 >>

Enrolled voters 74,633
Votes cast 53,127 Turnout 71.2% –10.4%
Informal votes 2,199 Informal 4.1% +1.1%
Summary of votes by party
Party Primary votes  % Swing Seats Change
  Country Liberal 20,074 39.4% –18.8% 16 – 3
  Labor 18,307 36.0% +0.4% 6 ± 0
  NT Nationals 9,058 17.8% +17.8% 1 + 1
  Independent 3,489 6.9% +2.5% 2 + 2
Total 50,928     25  
  Country Liberal 57.3% –3.8%
  Labor 42.7% +3.8
Popular vote
Country Liberal
NT Nationals
Two-party-preferred vote
Country Liberal
Country Liberal
NT Nationals

Retiring MPs


Country Liberal


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

Electorate Held by Labor candidate CLP candidate Nationals candidates Independent candidates
ArafuraLaborStan TipilouraDorothy FoxPeter Watton
AraluenCLPDi ShanahanEric PooleEnzo Floreani
ArnhemLaborWes LanhupuyJohn HancockBrian DallistonBruce Foley
BarklyCLPKeith HallettGary SmithIan TuxworthMaggie Hickey
BraitlingCLPMike AlsopRoger ValeMax Stewart
CasuarinaCLPJohn ReevesNick DondasGiuseppe Nicolosi
Fannie BayCLPJohn WatersMarshall PerronStephen MarshallEdward Osgood
FlynnCLPJohn OmondRay HanrahanJacqueline Anderson
JingiliCLPBob WhartonRick SetterHarry Maschke
KaramaCLPRobyn CromptonMick PalmerLionel Preston
KatherineCLPPhil MaynardMike ReedJim Forscutt
KoolpinyahCLPPeter IvinsonPat LoftusDavid LoveridgeNoel Padgham-Purich
LeanyerCLPDavid Lamb-JenkinsFred FinchDavid Wane
LudmillaCLPChris McMahCol FirminBrian ThomasSydney Cross
MacDonnellLaborNeil BellJ. DavisRon Liddle
MillnerLaborTerry SmithJohn BabanMichael Foley
NhulunbuyLaborDan LeoPam Steele-WarehamDeane CrowhurstPat Ellis
NightcliffCLPJohn RowellStephen HattonBrian Brent
PalmerstonCLPTony HenryBarry CoulterMichael Ting
Port DarwinCLPRussell KearneyTom HarrisJames Maclean
SadadeenIndependentMeredith CampbellShane StoneLynne PeterkinDenis Collins
SandersonCLPPeter McQueenDaryl ManzieLawrence Armstrong
StuartLaborBrian EdeJim SinclairIan DrennanVince Forrester
Victoria RiverCLPLeon WhiteTerry McCarthyRonald WrightLance Lawrence
WanguriCLPPeter McNabDon DaleGraeme Bevis

Seats changing hands

Seat Pre-1987 Swing Post-1987
Party Member Margin Margin Member Party
Barkly   Country Liberals Ian Tuxworth 10.3 (CLP) N/A 0.5 Ian Tuxworth NT Nationals  
Koolpinyah   Independent Noel Padgham-Purich 12.5 (CLP) 31.3 18.8 Noel Padgham-Purich Independent  
Sadadeen   Independent Denis Collins 20.5 (CLP) 40.2 19.7 Denis Collins Independent  

Post-election 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.

Casuarina Nick Dondas CLP 4.0
Katherine Mike Reed CLP 5.9 v NAT
Fairly safe
Leanyer Fred Finch CLP 6.3
Karama Mick Palmer CLP 6.5
Jingili Rick Setter CLP 7.4
Sanderson Daryl Manzie CLP 7.6
Wanguri Don Dale CLP 9.4
Fannie Bay Marshall Perron CLP 13.3
Araluen Eric Poole CLP 14.2
Palmerston Barry Coulter CLP 15.1
Ludmilla Col Firmin CLP 16.1 v NAT
Victoria River Terry McCarthy CLP 16.9
Port Darwin Tom Harris CLP 17.1
Nightcliff Stephen Hatton CLP 18.4
Flynn Ray Hanrahan CLP 19.0
Very safe
Braitling Roger Vale CLP 25.5
Arnhem Wes Lanhupuy ALP 5.1
Fairly safe
Nhulunbuy Dan Leo ALP 9.9
Millner Terry Smith ALP 15.2
Arafura Stan Tipiloura ALP 17.9
Stuart Brian Ede ALP 19.2
Very safe
Macdonnell Neil Bell ALP 24.9
Barkly Ian Tuxworth NAT 0.5 v IND
Koolpinyah Noel Padgham-Purich IND 18.8 v NAT
Sadadeen Denis Collins IND 19.7 v LAB


  1. Nelson, Alex (15 November 2017). "Dual citizen rows: Tennant Creek had them first – Alice Springs News". Alice Springs News. Retrieved 13 March 2020.
  2. Wade-Marshall, Dean Jaensch, Deborah (1994). Point of order! : the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory 1974–1994. Darwin: Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory. ISBN 0731520769.