The Northern Territory government will make a decision about a new Aboriginal Affairs Minister in late January, a spokesperson said.
Indigenous MP Ken Vowles held the job for just six months when he was stripped of the portfolio before Christmas for speaking out about the NT Labor government’s handling of the Territory’s ailing economy.
He was also dumped from the Labor caucus along with assistant minister Jeff Collins and backbencher Scott McConnell.
NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner said the three had broken caucus values and standards, but Mr Vowles described the move as a “bloody disgrace” and a “sad day for politics”.
Since Mr Vowles’ removal, NT Deputy Chief Minister Nicole Manison has been filling in as acting Minister for Aboriginal Affairs.
“A decision regarding a new minister will be made in late January,” a NT government spokesperson said Monday.
Mr Vowles, a well-known former NT cricketer who holds the seat of Johnston, was sworn in as NT Minister for Aboriginal Affairs in June in a cabinet reshuffle.
He also held the portfolios of Primary Industry and Resources and the Arafura Games.
He could not be reached for comment Monday.
A NT Treasury report released last month (December) said the Territory was on a “debt and deficit trajectory which is unsustainable”.
“In 2018-19, the Territory is forecast to spend over $1.5 billion, or $4 million a day more than the revenue it collects, and is borrowing to meet the shortfall,” the report said.
“If Territory Government spending continues to grow as it has in the past, the Territory’s net debt is projected to increase tenfold from $3.0 billion in 2017-18 to $35.7 billion by 2029‑30, with the net debt to revenue ratio increasing to around 320 per cent and the annual interest bill rising to almost $2 billion.
“Such an outcome would have severe economic consequences for Territorians.”
By Wendy Caccetta