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Adam Giles becomes the first Aboriginal leader of an Australian State/Territory

March 14th, 2013

Adam Giles

Adam Giles

The Northern Territory has a new Chief Minister. Terry Mills has been dumped and will be replaced by Adam Giles, the first Aboriginal person to lead a State or Territory jurisdiction.

After a lot of behind-the-scenes play former Chief Minister Terry Mills who is currently out of the country has been removed by a decision of Caucus and replaced by Mr Giles. Mr Mills led the Country-Liberal Government for only seven months.

They had only been in Office for less than seven months but leadership speculation had plagued Mr Mills from the early days of his first term. The Northern Territory is only a population of 240,000 with 80,000 (1 in 3) residents identifying as Aboriginal.

The leadership speculation brewed for several months but few thought much would come of it. But Mr Giles persisted despite losing public support from a ministerial colleague – Alison Anderson.

The incoming Government had made many promises to the Northern Territory electors – and some of these have not been lived up to. The outgoing Labor Government had received a beating in the bush electorates with many communities and townships feeling disenfranchised by the Federal Government’s ‘Intervention’ and the rolling out of Stronger Futures.

Mr Giles considered a few leadership challenges in recent months but aborted them, obviously he did not have the numbers then, but did yesterday.

The former New South Welshman, a Blue Mountains boy, as an adult relocated to the Northern Territory. Mr Giles is Alice Springs-based and he played a huge role in the remote communities during the last election whipping up support for the Country-Liberals, and indeed there was the backlash vote against Labor in the bush that was not the trend in Darwin electorates. The bush voters had been taken for granted but Mr Giles was one of the Country-Liberals who would make sure that this would not continue to be the case.

What remains to be seen is how Mr Mills will deal with his removal from the highest office in the Territory once back from overseas. Will there be further fall-out or will he accept his predicament and work alongside Mr Giles? Sources within the party said they expect dissent and some backbenchers are disgusted that Caucus did not wait for Mr Mills to return and then meet and decide.

“What occurred, behind his back is un-Australian and I don’t believe it will sit well with many but the fact that Adam is now leader will sit well with the Indigenous population and let us remember that the NT has ten times the Indigenous population proportion to total population that other States have,” said the Country-Liberal parliamentarian.

“Adam Giles has been a Minister so he will do the job as leader, how good a leader he will be is up to him and us and he comes in with a burden as he was part of the outspoken discontent to Terry.”

Many Aboriginal Elders and community leaders around the nation have praised Mr Giles’ rise to Chief Minister of the Territory.

The Pilbara’s senior most Yindjibarndi Law Carrier and CEO of the Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation (YAC), Michael Woodley said the rise of Mr Giles to the leadership is inspirational for all Aboriginal peoples.

“The rise to the top job is both an extraordinary and a long over-due event. Giles rising to leader of the Territory signifies to all Aboriginal people that we can aspire to anything when given the opportunity.”

“It is time that Aboriginal people support Aboriginal people and respect those who become our leaders and where appropriate put them on a pedestal,” said Mr Woodley.


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