The Northern Territory’s new chief minister Natasha Fyles says she is shocked to be selected for the top job, but is ready to hit the ground running.
The former health minister was unanimously elected by Labor’s 14-member caucus on Friday following Michael Gunner’s surprise resignation earlier in the week.
“It’s been a big week. When I was standing on the side lines at soccer last week out at Bagot Oval I certainly didn’t expect the week to end this way,” the 43-year-old former school teacher and soccer mum told reporters before she was sworn in.
“It’s a bit of a shock but it’s an absolute privilege. I don’t take this responsibility lightly.”
Cabinet will remain the same for next week’s parliamentary sittings, with Ms Fyles adding Mr Gunner’s portfolios, including treasury, to the health ministry.
A new leadership team and cabinet will be selected the week after, with changes expected.
Ms Fyles, from the left faction, entered parliament in 2012. She is the second woman to be appointed chief minister after Labor’s Clare Martin in 2001 and the third to lead Territory Labor.
She is just the second of the NT’s 12 chief ministers to be born in the territory since the Legislative Assembly’s first election in 1974.
“I’m a territory girl through and through. I’ve put my hand up to serve because I love this place. I want to work every day to make it better,” the mother of two boys said.
“I will hit the ground running. I’ve proven to Territorians that I can work incredibly hard and I can balance the commitments that I have with a family.”
The change of leadership from right-aligned Mr Gunner to the left is likely to lead to policy adjustments, concerning social and environmental issues.
“We do need to make changes. We need to keep making sure we keep delivering on those economic opportunities that we have,” Ms Fyles said.
“But I won’t be neglecting those social challenges we have here in the territory. The crime and anti-social behaviour, it’s a big job and we know we have to change … Housing, education, absolutely that will be a key focus.”
Mr Gunner, 46, stood down on Tuesday moments after handing down the NT budget, saying his head and heart were no longer in the job.
Place of originNT’s new chief minister shocked to get job