1990 Northern Territory general election

A general election was held in the Northern Territory on Saturday 27 October 1990, and was won by the incumbent Country Liberal Party (CLP) under Chief Minister Marshall Perron.

1990 Northern Territory general election

 1987 27 October 1990 (1990-10-27) 1994 

All 25 seats of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly
13 seats needed for a majority
Turnout81.6 ( 10.4 pp)
  First party Second party
Leader Marshall Perron Terry Smith
Party Country Liberal Labor
Leader since 14 July 1988 19 August 1986
Leader's seat Fannie Bay Millner
Last election 16 seats 6 seats
Seats won 14 seats 9 seats
Seat change 2 3
Percentage 48.8% 36.6%
Swing 9.4 0.6

Chief Minister before election

Marshall Perron
Country Liberal

Elected Chief Minister

Marshall Perron
Country Liberal

The CLP's political strategy for the campaign, devised by the Chief Minister's media secretary, Tony-Barker May, involved attacking the opposition ALP's policy platform, and using the costings as the basis of a 'where's the money coming from?' media assault. Although the Chief Minister was ill for much of the campaign, government ministers made challenging statements every day.

The CLP also used the services of conservative social researcher Mark Textor, subsequently co-head of Crosby Textor Group, who made accurate polling predictions during this election, outperforming internal ALP polling and independent public polling. The result came as a surprise to most except for CLP insiders.

Six months prior to the election, polling showed the CLP was headed for a big loss. However, the CLP government remained in power with an increase of over 9% to its primary vote, holding 14 of the 25 seats, with the ALP opposition gaining 3 seats for a total of 9 seats in the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly. Meanwhile, the Northern Territory Nationals contested the election again, but lost both of their seats. The 1990 election also saw the Greens emerge in territory politics, with 3.05% of the vote—fourth behind the CLP, Labor and the Nationals.

Independents Noel Padgham-Purich and Denis Collins were both re-elected.

The NT Nationals lost both seats of Barkly and Flynn.

Retiring MPs


Country Liberal


14 2 9
CLP Ind Labor

Northern Territory general election, 27 October 1990[1]
Legislative Assembly
<< 19871994 >>

Enrolled voters 82,261
Votes cast 67,117 Turnout 81.6% +10.4%
Informal votes 2,081 Informal 3.1% –1.0%
Summary of votes by party
Party Primary votes  % Swing Seats Change
  Country Liberal 31,758 48.8% +9.4% 14 – 2
  Labor 23,827 36.6% +0.6% 9 + 3
  Independent 4,410 6.8% –0.1% 2 ± 0
  NT Nationals 3,060 4.7% –13.1% 0 – 1
  Greens 1,981 3.0% +3.0% 0 ± 0
Total 65,036     25  
  Country Liberal 37,075 57.0% –0.3
  Labor 27,961 43.0% +0.3
Popular vote
Country Liberal
NT Nationals
Two-party-preferred vote
Country Liberal
Country Liberal


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

Electorate Held by Labor candidate CLP candidate Nationals candidates Other candidates
ArafuraLaborStan TipilouraBarry Puruntatameri
AraluenCLPBrian DoolanEric PooleEnzo Floreani
ArnhemLaborWes LanhupuyTony Hayward-RyanRod Ansell (Ind)
BarklyNationalMaggie HickeyPaul RugerKenneth PurvisTony Boulter (Ind)
Charles Hallett (Ind)
BraitlingCLPMatthew StoreyRoger ValeDamien WardLeslie Oldfield (Ind)
BrennanCLPIan FraserMax OrtmannCol Firmin (Ind)
CasuarinaCLPRod EllisNick DondasLea Rosenwax
Fannie BayCLPPaul CostiganMarshall PerronBob Ellis (Grn)
Strider (Ind)
GoyderCLPJack Ah KitTerry McCarthyIan TuxworthKezia Purick (Ind)
Louise Size (Grn)
Thomas Starr (Ind)
GreatorexIndependentHarold FurberRobert KennedyDavid JohannsenDenis Collins (Ind)
JingiliCLPFiona StuchberyRick SetterPenelope Thomson (Ind)
KaramaCLPMargaret GillespieMick PalmerJanet Durling
KatherineCLPPhil MaynardMike ReedJim ForscuttLaurie Hughes (Ind)
LeanyerCLPJim DavidsonFred FinchAlan MacKenzie
MacDonnellLaborNeil BellBrendan Heenan
Alison Hunt
MillnerLaborTerry SmithJanice Collins
NelsonIndependentDavid SandersonPeter IvinsonGraeme GowNoel Padgham-Purich (Ind)
NhulunbuyLaborSyd StirlingSusan McClure
NightcliffCLPDavid PettigrewStephen HattonJohn Dunham (Grn)
PalmerstonCLPChris DraffinBarry CoulterRonald WrightTimothy Fowler (Grn)
Port DarwinCLPPeter CavanaghShane StoneDavid FullerJessie Kearney (Grn)
SandersonCLPAlan PerrinDaryl ManzieGraeme Parsons (Grn)
Andrew Wrenn (Ind)
StuartLaborBrian EdeEric Pananka
Alexander Nelson
Victoria RiverCLPGary CartwrightStephen Dunham
WanguriLaborJohn BaileyJohn Hare

Seats changing hands

Seat Pre-1990 Swing Post-1990
Party Member Margin Margin Member Party
Barkly   NT Nationals Ian Tuxworth 5.9 6.6 0.7 Maggie Hickey Labor  
Victoria River   Country Liberal Terry McCarthy 9.5 11.0 1.5 Gary Cartwright Labor  

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.

Goyder Terry McCarthy CLP 4.1 v IND
Fairly safe
Sanderson Daryl Manzie CLP 9.0
Jingili Rick Setter CLP 9.2
Fannie Bay Marshall Perron CLP 10.0
Brennan Max Ortmann CLP 10.1
Karama Mick Palmer CLP 10.8
Casuarina Nick Dondas CLP 11.5
Port Darwin Shane Stone CLP 11.6
Palmerston Barry Coulter CLP 11.7
Leanyer Fred Finch CLP 11.9
Nightcliff Stephen Hatton CLP 12.1
Very safe
Araluen Eric Poole CLP 20.9
Katherine Mike Reed CLP 21.0
Braitling Roger Vale CLP 26.2
Barkly Maggie Hickey ALP 0.7
Victoria River Gary Cartwright ALP 1.5
Fairly safe
Wanguri John Bailey ALP 6.2
Millner Terry Smith ALP 6.7
Nhulunbuy Syd Stirling ALP 9.1
Arnhem Wes Lanhupuy ALP 11.2
Macdonnell Neil Bell ALP 13.5
Arafura Stan Tipiloura ALP 16.5
Stuart Brian Ede ALP 17.0
Greatorex Denis Collins IND 2.5 v CLP
Nelson Noel Padgham-Purich IND 13.7 v CLP


  1. 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.