Chief Minister of the Northern Territory

The Chief Minister of the Northern Territory is the head of government of the Northern Territory. The office is the equivalent of a State Premier. When the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly was created in 1974, the head of government was officially known as Majority Leader. This title was used in the first parliament (1974–1977) and the first eighteen months of the second. When self-government was granted the Northern Territory in 1978, the title of the head of government became Chief Minister.

Chief Minister of the
Northern Territory
Michael Gunner

since 31 August 2016
Department of the Chief Minister
StyleThe Honourable
StatusHead of Government
Member of
Reports toParliament
SeatDarwin, Northern Territory
AppointerAdministrator of the Northern Territory
by convention, based on appointee's ability to command confidence in the Legislative Assembly
Term lengthAt the Administrator's pleasure
contingent on the chief minister's ability to command confidence in the house of Parliament
Constituting instrumentNone (constitutional convention)
Formation19 October 1974 as Majority Leader
1 July 1978 as Chief Minister
First holderGoff Letts as Majority Leader
Paul Everingham as Chief Minister
DeputyDeputy Chief Minister of the Northern Territory

The Chief Minister is formally appointed by the Administrator, who in normal circumstances will appoint the head of whichever party holds the majority of seats in the unicameral Legislative Assembly. In times of constitutional crisis, the Administrator can appoint someone else as Chief Minister, however, this has never occurred.

Since 31 August, following the 2016 election, the Chief Minister is Michael Gunner of the Labor Party. He is the first Chief Minister to have been born in the Northern Territory.[1]


The Country Liberal Party won the first Northern Territory election on 19 October 1974 and elected Goff Letts Majority Leader. He headed an Executive that carried out most of the functions of a ministry at the state level. At the 1977 election Letts lost his seat and party leadership. He was succeeded on 13 August 1977 by Paul Everingham (CLP) as Majority Leader. When the Territory attained self-government on 1 July 1978, Everingham became Chief Minister with greatly expanded powers.

In 2001, Clare Martin became the first Labor and female Chief Minister of the Northern Territory. Until 2004 the conduct of elections and drawing of electoral boundaries was performed by the Northern Territory Electoral Office, a unit of the Department of the Chief Minister. In March 2004 the independent Northern Territory Electoral Commission was established.

In 2013, Mills was replaced as Chief Minister and CLP leader by Adam Giles at the 2013 CLP leadership ballot on 13 March to become the first indigenous Australian to lead a state or territory government in Australia.[2]

Following the 2016 election landslide outcome, Labor's Michael Gunner became Chief Minister.

List of chief ministers of the Northern Territory

From the foundation of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly in 1974 until the granting of self-government in 1978, the head of government was known as the Majority Leader:

Majority Leader Party Term start Term end Term in office Executive
Goff Letts   Country Liberal 19 October 1974 (1974-10-19) 12 August 1977 (1977-08-12) 2 years, 297 days Letts Executive
Paul Everingham   Country Liberal 13 August 1977 (1977-08-13) 30 June 1978 (1978-06-30) 321 days Everingham Executive

From 1978, the position was known as the Chief Minister:

Chief Minister Party Term start Term end Term in office Ministry
Paul Everingham   Country Liberal 1 July 1978 (1978-07-01) 15 October 1984 (1984-10-15) 6 years, 106 days Everingham Ministry
Ian Tuxworth   Country Liberal 16 October 1984 (1984-10-16) 13 May 1986 (1986-05-13) 1 year, 209 days Tuxworth Ministry
Stephen Hatton   Country Liberal 14 May 1986 (1986-05-14) 12 July 1988 (1988-07-12) 2 years, 59 days Hatton Ministry
Marshall Perron   Country Liberal 13 July 1988 (1988-07-13) 24 May 1995 (1995-05-24) 6 years, 315 days Perron Ministry
Shane Stone   Country Liberal 25 May 1995 (1995-05-25) 7 February 1999 (1999-02-07) 3 years, 258 days Stone Ministry
Denis Burke   Country Liberal 8 February 1999 (1999-02-08) 27 August 2001 (2001-08-27) 2 years, 200 days Burke Ministry
Clare Martin   Labor 27 August 2001 (2001-08-27) 26 November 2007 (2007-11-26) 6 years, 91 days Martin Ministry
Paul Henderson   Labor 26 November 2007 (2007-11-26) 28 August 2012 (2012-08-28) 4 years, 276 days Henderson Ministry
Terry Mills   Country Liberal 29 August 2012 (2012-08-29) 13 March 2013 (2013-03-13) 196 days Mills Ministry
Adam Giles   Country Liberal 14 March 2013 (2013-03-14) 30 August 2016 (2016-08-30) 3 years, 169 days Giles Ministry
Michael Gunner   Labor 31 August 2016 (2016-08-31) Incumbent 4 years, 332 days Gunner Ministry

See also