MP's text messages handed to NT watchdog

·2-min read

Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner has referred text messages linked to a former member of his parliamentary team to the corruption watchdog.

Member for Blain Mark Turner was sacked on Thursday as Labor's deputy Speaker and caucus chair, with Mr Gunner saying the former policeman had lied about an inappropriate relationship.

Mr Gunner said he had since received text messages allegedly between Mr Turner and a private citizen, which have been the subject of local media reports alleging party members were involved in a "cocaine sex scandal".

"I have subsequently provided these text messages to the (NT Independent Commissioner Against Corruption) for their review," Mr Gunner said in a statement late on Sunday.

"I will also be formally writing to the NT Labor Party and recommending that they review the Member for Blain's party status."

It comes after Mr Turner on Wednesday denied allegations he had engaged in any illegal activity as alleged in the media reports.

However, he told parliament he was involved in an inappropriate consensual relationship with a woman.

In response to that admission, Mr Gunner said the 37-year-old had lost his trust.

"I don't believe that the Member for Blain was completely forthcoming with me or his colleagues about the extent of his friendship with the private citizen," Mr Gunner said on Thursday, referring to discussions he had with Mr Turner earlier in the week.

Mr Gunner also said at the time that Mr Turner "continues to act dishonestly" about his relationships and interactions with others.

"He has lost the trust of the caucus. He is no longer a member of Labor's parliamentary team."

Asked about the controversy at a press conference on Sunday morning, Mr Gunner said he had grown angry and disappointed over the incident.

He said he had not seen the text messages linked to Mr Turner.

"One of the major issues this week has been the lack of honesty ... the Member for Blain was not straight with us," he said.

"Being a former police officer no one was in a better place to know how to handle that information," Mr Gunner said when asked about Mr Turner's alleged links to text messages discussing drugs.

Opposition leader Lia Finocchiaro on Monday said Mr Gunner should ask Mr Turner to resign from parliament but he was unlikely to because Labor needed his support from the crossbench.

"This is self-serving and weak leadership from a Chief Minister who has muddied the waters continuously in trying to cover up the scandal," she said.

"We now know that the Chief Minister's office has had the information for the past three weeks and the Chief Minister himself had the details of the text messages midday Tuesday."

Ms Finocchiaro said referring the text messages to ICAC was a distraction while calling on Mr Gunner to fully explain what he knew, and when.