Mani­son’s crew party while NT econ­omy burns

Sunday Territorian - - NEWS - HAY­LEY SORENSEN

AN hour af­ter drop­ping the bomb­shell that the North­ern Ter­ri­tory was sink­ing into a $35 bil­lion debt black hole, Trea­surer Nicole Mani­son and her staff were on the wines cel­e­brat­ing their end of year wrap up.

When asked by the Sun­day Ter­ri­to­rian if it was ap­pro­pri­ate to party im­me­di­ately af­ter an­nounc­ing the Ter­ri­tory had been driven to the brink of in­sol­vency, Ms Mani­son said she took the bud­get sit­u­a­tion “very se­ri­ously”.

“Like in most work­places, I hold an end-of-year lunch for my of­fice ev­ery year. We went to lunch for around 1½ hours and then I re­turned to the of­fice af­ter lunch,” she said.

The ar­chi­tects of the Bud­get, top pub­lic ser­vant Jodie Ryan and un­der trea­surer Craig Gra­ham, were spot­ted at Shenan­ni­gans later in the evening. Ms Mani­son is now act­ing chief min­is­ter af­ter her boss Michael Gun­ner took off on leave. He will spend the Christ­mas break hol­i­day­ing in New Zealand.

Although Mr Gun­ner doesn’t leave un­til to­day, me­dia were told on Fri­day he was un­avail­able to com­ment on the per­ilous state of the econ­omy. Af­ter cop­ping heavy crit­i­cism, his of­fice al­lowed him to speak with the Sun­day Ter­ri­to­rian.

Mr Gun­ner said he was “very com­fort­able with (Ms Mani­son) hav­ing some Christ­mas cheer”.

“I know the Trea­surer has worked re­ally hard all year and I don’t be­grudge her a lunch,” he said.

Mr Gun­ner’s dis­ap­pear­ing act in­fu­ri­ated some of his cau­cus col­leagues, one of whom de­scribed the Chief Min­is­ter as “piss weak” for leav­ing amid the cri­sis.

Cau­cus mem­bers told the Sun­day Ter­ri­to­rian they felt de­ceived by Ms Mani­son and Mr Gun­ner’s at­tempts to hide just how bad the books were prior to Fri­day’s rev­e­la­tion.

Ter­ri­tory Bud­get ar­chi­tects, the un­der trea­surer Craig Gra­ham, top left, and top pub­lic ser­vant Jodie Ryan, mid­dle, were spot­ted at Shenan­ni­gans on Fri­day night af­ter Trea­surer Nicole Mani­son, right, held a lunch for her staff ear­lier that day

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