Darwin Port. Photo Courtesy of Carl Curtain at ABC Rural.
Solomon is an inner metropolitan electorate covering the cities of Darwin and Palmerston. Current issues in the area include the recent lease of Darwin Port to the Chinese company, Landbridge Group, as well as the 2016 release of the Department of Defence's White Paper which could potentially boost the local economy by billions. In addition, the rate of crime in Palmerston has increased and there is a perception that this needs to be addressed.
Solomon is the Northern Territory’s sweaty-but-cool city electorate. In 2001, the single NT electorate that existed from 1922-2000, was split into Solomon, covering the city of Darwin, and Lingiari, covering the rest.
The electorate takes its name from Vaiban Louis Solomon who lived from 1853 to 1908, and was described as the Northern Territory’s founding father of Federation.
It’s a marginal seat and will be one to watch in this election, especially as the city is still reeling from the Federal Government’s decision late last year to sell a 99-year lease to its port to the Chinese-owned company Landbridge for $506 million.
The decision prompted cries of outrage and questions in parliament. The executive director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Peter Jennings, told a senate enquiry that he did not believe proper due-diligence was done, and the US, through a number of key diplomats, expressed that it was ‘stunned’ that it had not been consulted.
With a population of 63,267, Solomon covers just 337 sq kms, including the City of Darwin, Palmerston and urban fringes. Its main industries are tourism, iron ore mining, horticulture, fishing and light industry.
Natasha Griggs from the Country Liberal Party currently holds the seat. She first won it in 2010 and was re-elected in 2013. During her first term of office, she opposed a proposal to build a nuclear waste storage facility in the Northern Territory by arguing, “that science not politics should determine it’s location.” The proposal was eventually withdrawn by Pangea, the company behind it, for financial reasons.
In 2013 Griggs won a two party preferred swing of 1.94 points to become not only the first opposition member to hold the seat, but also the first female member of the House of Representatives to represent the Northern Territory. She defeated Labor’s Damian Hale who held the seat from 2007 to 2009.
In 2002, Griggs underwent intensive treatment for thyroid cancer and beat it. She then returned to work.
Prior to this she was already a staunch advocate for charities and NGO’s focusing on cancer prevention, community and non-profit organisations In 1992 she raised $30,000, for charities and was named the Territory’s leading fundraiser of the year.
The Greens candidate Todd Williams ran in 2013 and is up again.
Last time he achieved 8% of the vote, while the other minor party candidates scored 11% between them. With fewer small parties running this time it will be interesting to see how much of that 11% goes to the Greens. The party’s platform is focused on concerns about fracking, micro-grid energy that could see remote communities generating their own power and getting off the grid, and on the humane treatment of asylum seekers.
The next federal election will be contested on existing boundaries as new boundaries will not take effect until February 7, 2017.