Tue. Jul 5th, 2022

Outgoing Northern Territory senator Sam McMahon says she will run in the upcoming election to try and win back her job in the Australian parliament.

After weeks of speculation, the ex-Country Liberal Party senator confirmed she will stand for the Senate for minor party the Liberal Democrats at a press conference on Friday morning.

“I’ve consistently said my intention was not to contest this election,” she said.

“Up until two days ago I was still quite categorical that I did not want to continue on in politics.

“I’ll be quite honest, I had a fair beating from politics. I was happy to step away.

“But I have exercised my female prerogative to change my mind, and that is what I have done, and I am here to announce that I will be contesting the next election in the Senate for the Liberal Democrat[ic] Party. “

Sam McMahon smiles while holding her hat on her head at a press conference.
Sam McMahon resigned from the CLP to sit in the Senate as an independent in February.(ABC News: Michael Franchi)

Senator McMahon said her decision was “carefully considered” and based on still having more to achieve in politics for the Northern Territory.

“I’ve accomplished quite a lot in three years, but there’s more to do,” she said.

“Spirit [the decision was based on] a great desire from many, many Territorians to have me to continue to represent them. “

The ABC reported in January that Senator McMahon had met with fellow Liberal Democrats candidate and former Queensland Prime Minister Campbell Newman to discuss her future.

Senator McMahon quit the CLP to sit in the Senate as an independent earlier this year, a move that left the party without a serving member in federal parliament.

She was dumped from the CLP’s Senate ticket for the 2022 election by the party last year in favor of former Alice Springs deputy mayor Jacinta Price, following a fierce preselection battle.

She’ll now come up against Ms Price in the battle to win one of two NT Senate seats.

Kylie Bonanni and Senator McMahon have joined the Liberal Democrats.
Kylie Bonanni (left) and Sam McMahon both announced they had joined the minor party on Friday morning.(ABC News: Michael Franchi)

Kylie Bonanni, a former senior member of the CLP who quit the party last week and said she would run in the federal election, also appeared at the press conference to announce she had joined the Liberal Democrats.

CLP is a ‘shambles’: McMahon

Senator McMahon said her former party was in “shambles” after two more high-profile members of the CLP announced their resignations today.

Former Deputy Prime Minister Peter Styles and his wife, prominent party member Linda Fazldeen, confirmed they had ended a 40-year relationship with the CLP due to concerns over the future direction of the party.

Ms Fazldeen said the party was no longer meeting the expectations of conservative Territorians.

“I think the party management has lost sight of that progressive, innovative approach and listening to its grassroots members, and I just think it’s lost its way,” she said.

A sign featuring the CLP NT logo.
Senator McMahon quit the CLP to sit in the Senate as an independent earlier this year.(ABC News: Michael Franchi)

Senator McMahon said the resignations were the latest in a string of public problems for the party since she quit earlier this year.

“Since then, you’ve had several high profile resignations, including the president, the deputy president and we’ve heard of several more this morning, so I think that speaks to the state of the party,” she said.

McMahon said she quit over safety concerns

Senator McMahon’s resignation from the CLP had marked the end of a 30-year relationship between the former Katherine veterinarian and the NT’s main conservative party.

Following her departure, Senator McMahon claimed that she had quit the CLP because of unresolved complaints about safety concerns she had had while attending party meetings.

She later alleged under parliamentary privilege that those safety concerns were centered around a former staffer from her office, who she said had “abused and terrorized” her and her staff members.

CLP president Fiona Darcy has said she did not believe the allegations were a party issue and the former staffer has declined to comment.

Analyst warns former CLP members could split vote

ABC election analyst Antony Green said earlier this week that former CLP members running against their former party could split the conservative vote.

“What the emergence of extra candidates indicates is the internal warfare which is dogging the CLP,” Mr Green said.

McMahon is sitting at her senate desk, looking up, smiling, holding phone in right hand.
Sam McMahon has alleged the CLP did not respond to her complaints about a staffer.(ABC News: Matt Roberts)

In Solomon, disenfranchised former senior members of the CLP, Kylie Bonanni and Jed Hansen, have both announced they would be running for the seat at the upcoming election.

The election is expected to be announced soon and held in May this year.

McMahon’s first term featured controversies

Senator McMahon’s first term in government featured a number of controversies, including allegations she swung a punch at the Nationals party president at a Christmas party in Canberra.

There were also allegations made that on one occasion, she had been drunk on the floor of the Senate.

The senator also played a role in ensuring the NT retained two seats in the lower house of parliament and fought to overturn a law preventing the Northern Territory from making its own voluntary euthanasia laws.

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