The Northern Territory’s former health minister Natasha Fyles is the NT’s new chief minister, following the unexpected resignation of Michael Gunner last week.
Fyles was selected following a unanimous decision from a Labor caucus meeting on Friday.
“Our united and stable team is now focused on getting on with our first priority – serving Territorians,” Fyles said in a statement.
The minister was sworn in on Friday afternoon during a visit to the Northern Territory administrator.
Fyles’ tenure as minister for health saw her lead the territory’s COVID-19 response, including expanding the health officer’s powers to respond to the pandemic.
Gunner resigned last week, as reported in The Mandarin, citing his commitments to his family as the reason for this resignation, having recently welcomed a new son.
The now ex-chief minister also denied he was resigning because of any wrongdoing on his part or that he had a job lined up. Gunner continues to be the member of Fannie Bay, joining the backbench when he returns from paternity leave.
Deputy chief minister Nicole Manison had been acting as the leader in the interim between Wednesday and the meeting.
During a media conference on Friday afternoon, Fyles thanked Gunner for his time as chief minister and named serving the people of the Northern Territory as her main priority.
Fyles said she would be picking up the portfolios of the chief minister, including treasury and some defence projects. Decisions about other portfolios are set to be made next week, with Fyles indicating changes should be anticipated.
When asked by a journalist whether she supported the public servant wage freeze, Fyles said she anticipated discussions in the coming weeks.
“We’re hoping that with the number of projects coming here to the territory – our population growing, the investment we’re seeing, the increase in GST – that we will be able to make decisions to ensure that that economic prosperity reaches across to the social challenges we have in the territory,” Fyles said.
The new chief minister would not comment if there were other contenders for the job, only that the decision made was unanimous by the caucus. Fyles further denied that she was not ready for the job following a journalist’s question, although she did state she was not expecting to take up the role at the start of the week.
Mansion, who remains as deputy chief minister, congratulated Fyles at the media conference, calling Fyles ‘hard-working’, ‘determined’ and said she was ‘thrilled’ to see Fyles become chief minister.