The Aboriginal bush bloc in the NT parliament has fractured further as a PUP MLA returns to the CLP and Alison Anderson attacks the chief minister.
A Northern Territory MLA who left the Palmer United Party to rejoin the Country Liberals says he didn’t think the Tiwi Islands would get much-needed new roads otherwise.
But the government insists it made no inducements to lure him back.
Francis Xavier Kurrupuwu, the Member for Arafura, told the ABC on Tuesday that “if I wouldn’t go back Tiwi wouldn’t get any” new roads on Melville Island.
He left the government along with fellow Aboriginal backbenchers Alison Anderson and Larisa Lee earlier this year amid claims the government had broken its election promises to the bush.
But he resigned from PUP on Monday and immediately sought to be reinstated by the CLP.
This move was welcomed by Chief Minister Adam Giles, as he shores up his numbers in case his disgruntled former deputy Dave Tollner fulfils his threats to leave the party, which would plunge the CLP government into minority.
“Francis came to me and said he’s sick and tired of the PUP mob, he said he doesn’t like being given directions from Queensland; he said there was no team structure, he felt completely isolated and wants to be part of a government that does something,” Mr Giles told reporters.
But he denied making inducements of any kind to him, including $30 million in roads funding for the Tiwi Islands.
Mr Kurrupuwu told News Corp Australia he had made a mistake and was “sort of lost” and said PUP hadn’t given him any opportunities.
Ms Anderson, the leader of PUP NT, said she was saddened by Mr Kurrupuwu’s departure, and lashed out at Mr Giles.
“The Giles government is wrecking the NT, and it is determined to weaken the Aboriginal community, and the weak Aborigines are the ones who sit in its ranks,” she said.
There is no love lost between Ms Anderson and Mr Giles – she called him a “little boy”, which is an insulting term for an uninitiated indigenous male, early in 2013 when he made his first tilt for leadership.
Mr Giles stripped her of her four ministries and sent her to the back bench late last year, and accused her of damaging race relations in the NT.
“All Alison Anderson does is get to the bottom of the barrel; I’ve got no time to talk about what she says,” he said.
Earlier on Tuesday he denied Mr Kurrupuwu’s return was due to the recent demotion of Deputy Chief Minister Mr Tollner.