Scrymgour quits Northern Territory ministry

By Angela Dorizas

Australia’s highest ranking indigenous politician, Northern Territory Deputy chief minister Marion Scrymgour, has quit cabinet due to an underlying health condition.

Ms Scrymgour said it was with with regret that she stepped down from her ministerial responsibilities.

“I have done so after seeking further medical advice relating to a pre-existing medical condition and ongoing health issues following the death of my father,” she said at a press briefing.

“It has been a great privilege to serve the people of the Northern Territory, but my ongoing health issues do not allow me to continue the hectic pace of a Ministerial workload.”

Ms Scrymgour will remain in the Legislative Assembly as the Member for Arafura, a seat she has held since 2001.

Ms Scrymgour became the first indigenous woman to be promoted to cabinet in 2002 and was appointed deputy chief minister in 2007. Her most recent portfolios include Indigenous Policy; Justice and Attorney-General; Racing, Gaming and Licencing; Alcohol Policy; and Education.

She was dropped from the Education portfolio last week following the controversial sacking of Department of Education chief executive officer Margaret Banks.

Earlier today, when Ms Scrymgour announced the appointment of the Territory’s first Indigenous Affairs Advisory Council to provide advice on further implementation of the Closing the Gap policy, there was no hint of her resignation.

“The Northern Territory Government is committed to closing the gap of disadvantage between Indigenous and non Indigenous Territorians and the council will assist us in moving forward to improve the lives of Aboriginal people in the Territory," she said in the press statement.

“I welcome all of the members to the advisory council and look forward to meeting with them regularly.”

This afternoon, Chief Minister Paul Henderson issued a public statement thanking his Deputy for her ministerial work, particularly in the area of indigenous policy.

“Marion is a politician of great conviction, who has tackled some of the biggest challenges we face in Government, particularly in education, families and children and Indigenous Policy,” Mr Henderson said.

“She has introduced and overseen important reform in FACS, education and Indigenous policy – particularly in seeking to combat violence and substance abuse, improving social outcomes for Indigenous families and tackling school attendance, literacy and numeracy.”

Mr Henderson said NT Treasurer Delia Lawrie has been appointed as the new Deputy Chief Minister and Attorney General.

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