|(Photo source: ABC)|
Media commentary is focusing on the shire amalgamations which are very unpopular in the bush and saying that this dissatisfaction caused the result. (Although it should be noted that some shires are functioning better than others. E.g. Roper Gulf seems to me to be doing okay - although still not popular in Ngukurr. West Arnhem looks ok to me from afar. But Victoria Daly and MacDonnell shire look much messier from where I sit.)
In my opinion, the effect of the shires on this election is not just that people don't like them and voted against Labor. There's an additional factor at play which is that people out bush are now looking for new ways to have some power and control over their communities. In addition to the shire amalgamations/loss of local councils, we've had the Intervention, the scrapping of the permit system and the loss of ASSPA funding which have all taken away opportunites for people in remote communities to exert control over their own lives and communities. This is why we saw more remote people nominating in this election - not just for CLP, but also for Greens and the First Nations party. In the 2008 Election there were 17 candidates standing who weren't from the big two parties. This time around there were 36 - more than double.
This then created the erratic polling results which saw not just swings to CLP, but swings all over the place as more and more remote people put their hands up to get their voice back and try and regain some power and control for their communites. The CLP managed to come out ahead of the mess but it was a scrappy race and a big mish-mash of results. The media commentary seems to have missed this point so far.