Australia: Northern Territory gets new chief minister

Eva Lawler, the current treasurer of the Northern Territory, is set to assume the role of chief minister, succeeding Natasha Fyles. Fyles resigned from the position following revelations that she possessed undisclosed shares in a mining company with territorial interests.

Lawler’s appointment was confirmed through a statement issued by her office on Wednesday, with the current attorney general, Chanston Paech, slated to become the deputy chief minister.

The announcement highlighted the unanimous decision of the Territory Labor caucus during their meeting earlier that day, solidifying Lawler’s position as chief minister and Paech as deputy chief minister. Concurrently, the statement conveyed the decision of the current deputy chief minister, Nicole Manison, to transition to the backbench. Acknowledging Manison’s commendable seven-year tenure in Cabinet, the statement expressed gratitude for her contributions to job growth and economic development in the Territory. Despite stepping down from her deputy chief minister role, Manison will continue to serve her constituents as the member for Wanguri.

The newly appointed leadership team is scheduled to be sworn in on Thursday. Fyles, in a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, announced her resignation as chief minister, citing her failure to declare a limited number of shares in South32, a company overseeing a contentious mine in the remote community of Groote Eylandt. Earlier in the year, Fyles faced scrutiny for dismissing concerns raised by community members regarding potential manganese dust leaks and declining to investigate air pollution levels and associated health impacts.

Fyles’ departure comes on the heels of a previous scandal involving undisclosed shareholdings in the gas company Woodside, from which she divested shares last month under public scrutiny. Additionally, Fyles faced pressure over her employment of a political consultant who co-owned a lobbying firm listing gas company Tamboran as one of its clients. The dynamics of the political landscape in the Northern Territory are thus undergoing a significant shift, marked by the appointment of Eva Lawler as the new chief minister and Chanston Paech as deputy chief minister.

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