Guide to the Johnston by-election


The first vote of the year will be coming up at the end of February, when voters in the Darwin-area electorate of Johnston will elect a member for the Northern Territory’s assembly.

The seat was vacated by Ken Vowles at the end of 2019. Vowles was a minister in the Labor government before he was sacked and kicked out of the Labor caucus at the end of 2018.

As with all NT electorates, Johnston has a very small population, with just two polling places within the seat.

Labor should be the favourites but NT elections can always be unpredictable, particularly considering the circumstances of the previous member’s departure.

Read the guide here.

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  1. The Greens have made headlines when they announced they would put Labor last on how to vote cards in this seat. This includes preferencing the CLP ahead of Labor because of their stance on Fracking. Greens have downplayed the repercussions calling it an ‘inconsequential’ by-election that has no bearing on changing the government. However, latest polls have Labor’s polling dropping dramatically since their hey day of the 2016 election. And what would seem unthinkable after the CLP’s annihilation in 2016 some commentators are suggesting there is a possibility of a hung parliament.

    Antony Green has noted that Labor are likely to lose seats in Palmerston, Katherine and Alice Springs but Labor must focus their attention on consolidating seats in the Northern Suburbs which includes Johnston.

    This by-election may be an accurate gage on what Northern Territory voters are thinking.

  2. Not really that “unthinkable” – Labor managed a massive swing back to them in QLD in 2015 after losing epically in 2012, so not that surprising if the CLP gain a fair few seats this NT election.

  3. Green voters have a lot of thinking to do……. once they support liberal Govts the greens will go the way of the Australian democrats

  4. It’ll be interesting to see who comes second in Johnston. The 31.4% the CLP got in 2016 should be a low point, but then they were the only conservative party, and now there’s Territory Alliance (with the old CLP candidate) and Earley. Greens should lose some anti-fracking votes to Earley too. If the CLP go down further, particularly if they don’t come second, it’ll be a portent of the general election being a real mess. A mix of CLP, TA and other independents (some of them bitter ex-CLP) could get 13 seats and still not be able to form government.

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