Gary John Higgins (born 26 May 1954) is an Australian politician. A member of the Country Liberal Party, he was elected to represent the seat of Daly in the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly at the 2012 election. After the 2016 election, the CLP was reduced to only two members in the Legislative Assembly, with Higgins becoming party leader and Leader of the Opposition. Following health problems, he resigned both positions in favour of Lia Finocchiaro in February 2020, and announced that he would retire at the 2020 election.

Early life

Higgins moved to the Northern Territory in 1986, and was employed in the Territory public service, where he became Director of Corporate Services at the Attorney-General's office.[1] After leaving the public service, he bought the Daly River Mango Farm, a mango orchard and tourist park on the Daly River.[2]

Parliament

He joined the Giles Ministry in February 2015, becoming Minister for Sport and Recreation, Minister for Senior Territorians, Minister for the Environment, and Minister assisting the Minister for Arts and Museums.

CLP leadership

The CLP was defeated in a landslide at the 2016 election. Higgins was one of only two CLP candidates to be elected, and the only surviving member of the previous cabinet. Even before it was confirmed that former Chief Minister Adam Giles had lost his own seat, it was announced on 2 September 2016 that Higgins would succeed him as CLP leader, and hence Opposition Leader. The only other CLP member in the legislature, Lia Finocchiaro, became his deputy.[3]

Higgins faced the task of rebuilding a party that had just suffered one of the worst defeats of a sitting government at the state or territory level in Australia. Although the CLP had fewer members than the independents, the CLP was recognised as the Official Opposition after the Solicitor-General advised that the five independents could not realistically form an alternative government. Although the CLP was well short of the numbers for official status in the chamber, the new Labor government of Michael Gunner promised that the CLP would be properly resourced as an opposition.[4]

As they were the only opposition members of the legislature, Higgins and Finocchiaro divided all shadow portfolios between them. Higgins served as Shadow Treasurer and Shadow Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics, Housing and Community Development, Tourism and Culture, Environment and Natural Resources, Public Employment, Corporate and Information Services, Primary Industry and Resources and Northern Australia.[5]

On 20 January 2020, Higgins announced his resignation as leader of the Country Liberals, citing health problems, and confirmed he will retire from the Legislative Assembly at the next Territory election in August 2020. His deputy, and the only other Country Liberal MP in the assembly, Lia Finocchiaro succeeded him as party and opposition leader on 1 February.[6]

See also

References

  1. ^ Northern Territory Votes: Daly (Key Seat), Australian Broadcasting Commission, 25 August 2012, archived from the original on 9 October 2013
  2. ^ "Top End residents brace for flooding, winds". ABC News. 4 January 2008. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  3. ^ "Gary Higgins becomes Country Liberals' new leader, Lia Finocchiaro his deputy". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2 September 2016. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  4. ^ Oaten, James (30 August 2016). "Independents won't be recognised as opposition in NT: official advice". ABC News (Australia).
  5. ^ Shadow Ministry for 13th Legislative Assembly
  6. ^ Vivian, Steve (20 January 2020). "Country Liberal Party 100 per cent" behind new leader Lia Finocchiaro". ABC News. Retrieved 5 February 2020.
Northern Territory Legislative Assembly
Preceded by
Rob Knight
Member for Daly
2012–present
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
Michael Gunner
Leader of the Opposition in the Northern Territory
2016–2020
Succeeded by
Lia Finocchiaro
Party political offices
Preceded by
Adam Giles
Leader of the Country Liberal Party
2016–2020
Succeeded by
Lia Finocchiaro