Exiled Labor MLA Jeff Collins has quit the party and will sit in the Northern Territory Parliament as an independent.
- After 33 years in Labor, Jeff Collins has quit the party and will now stand as an independent
- He has lashed out at the Gunner Government’s handling of the economy, and said the NT budget was in “crisis”
- Collins was elected to parliament in 2016 for the seat of Fong Lim
The Member for Fong Lim was dumped from the Labor caucus in December, along with former minister Ken Vowles and backbencher Scott McConnell, for publicly criticising the Gunner Government’s economic strategy.
Since then he has been barred from government sections of Parliament House and earlier this week he was booted off two parliamentary committees.
“And then they have told me that I must take instructions or my directions from the Leader of Government Business, or the Government Whip,” he said.
“So effectively I am to sit down in a box, shut up, and then vote when I am told to vote by people who have shown me no respect and the voters of Fong Lim no respect.”
Restrictions from Labor ‘unacceptable’
Mr Collins said he has been a member of the Labor Party for decades but the restrictions placed on him by the Chief Minister Michael Gunner and the parliamentary Labor party were “simply unacceptable”.
“It’s not a decision I take lightly,” he said.
“In fact, yeah, it’s a pretty hard decision.
“Thirty-three years of membership and it comes to this, unfortunately.”
Economy is in ‘crisis’: Collins
One of the reasons Mr Collins was dismissed from caucus was for suggesting the Treasurer Nicole Manison should relinquish her police portfolio to concentrate on fixing the Northern Territory economy.
“(It was) an extraordinary reaction to circumstances where I was simply [adding] my two bobs worth about how we deal with the current fiscal crisis,” he said.
“And crisis it is, despite how the Chief Minister may choose to characterise it. It is a crisis.”
Mr Collins was elected to Parliament in Labor’s landslide victory in 2016.
The former firefighter and lawyer held roles including assistant minister for police, until his removal from caucus last year.
Mr Collins’ resignation means Labor now has 17 seats in the 25-seat Parliament.