NT deputy chief stands by alcohol shares purchase

Northern Territory Deputy Chief Minister Chansey Paech has defended himself after revelations he invested in an Alice Springs liquor distribution company just months before advocating for lifting alcohol bans in the region.

An investigation by the NT Independent revealed Mr Paech purchased 125 shares in Metcash, a central Australian liquor and goods distribution company, in May 2022.

Mr Paech said the shares were sold for $436 but they were always disclosed.

"I absolutely have always disclosed potential, perceived and real conflicts with my colleagues at all levels, whether it's on the floor of parliament, whether it is part of the cabinet processes … or whether it is meeting with stakeholders across the NT," he told reporters on Monday.

The Arrernte man was attorney-general and minister for Indigenous affairs when he owned the shares and was a strong advocate for lifting the 15-year-old alcohol bans in Alice Springs town camps.

Chansey Paech
Mr Paech said he sold his shares in liquor and goods distribution company Metcash for $436.

Mr Paech did not answer directly whether he had raised his Metcash shareholding during cabinet discussions about the issue.

He divested his shares when he was appointed deputy chief minister in December after chief minister Natasha Fyles was ousted over her own shares scandal.

Ms Fyles resigned less than 24 hours after it was revealed she held undisclosed shares in South32, which owns the GEMCO manganese mine in the remote community of Groote Eylandt.

Earlier in 2023, Ms Fyles had said the government would not investigate air pollution levels or health impacts after residents raised concerns about manganese dust in the community.

Current Chief Minister Eva Lawler told reporters on Monday she would not be calling for Mr Paech to resign.

"He declared his shares and that was the difference between Natasha and Chansey," she said.

Ms Lawler said she "did not ever hear him say" he had a potential conflict of interest when cabinet was discussing the alcohol bans in Alice Springs.

In a fiery question time in the NT Legislative Assembly's first sitting of the year, opposition Country Liberal Party (CLP) and independent members responded to the latest Labor shares revelation.

Independent Member for Araluen Robyn Lambley called Ms Lawler a "pathetic silly woman" when she attempted to defend Mr Paech's share investment.

"You'll regret this I can assure you," Ms Lambley shouted in parliament.

"I don't know why you're making a threat to me," Ms Lawler responded.

Ms Lawler also announced a review of ministerial conflict of interest controls on Monday, a move she had promised just days after her predecessor Ms Fyles resigned.

Lia Finocchiaro
Country Liberal Party Leader Lia Finocchiaro said members are working to divest their shares.

Opposition Leader Lia Finocchiaro said CLP members are working to divest their shares in the lead-up to the August election.

"It's not the amount of the shares that is the point," she said.

"The point is the integrity issue that comes along with that ... this is the third time in as many months we've seen Labor plagued by a shares scandal."

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