TIO debate continues through blackout

Neda Vanovac

Not even a blackout could stop Northern Territory politicians from debating the highly contentious sale of the Territory Insurance Office (TIO).

Debate on legislation to permit the government to sell Australia's last government-owned insurer to German multinational Allianz has continued for most of Tuesday.

The NT government on Monday announced it had sold the insurance branch of the company for $236m to Allianz and the banking arm to People's Choice Credit Union for $48 million, and then brought forward a bill to mandate the sale on Tuesday morning.

The argument was still raging on towards the evening, not even paused by a spectacular Top End thunderstorm which swept in and cut the electricity to Parliament House.

MLA Peter Chandler continued to debate in the dark for five minutes before power was restored.

"Selling TIO on a Monday and then ramming through legislation the following day, not allowing proper scrutiny, is an absolute disgrace," Labor MLA Nicole Manison said.

She said it was an arrogant betrayal and abandonment of territorians.

Opponents of the sale are concerned that thousands of people living in storm-surge and flood zones will face skyrocketing premiums under a commercial insurer.

A quarter of people living in Katherine under Country Liberals Member Willem Westra van Holthe face significant premium rises.

"Does anyone think I enjoy getting fine Katherine people railing against the government and railing against me as a local member? No, of course not," he said.

"This is not about having a fight, it's about doing the right thing."

He rubbished Labor's accusation that the government was motivated by greed and intending to pork-barrel its way to the 2016 election.

Palmer United Party NT leader Alison Anderson underlined the chief complaint against the government, that it had failed to properly consult the public.

Earlier on Tuesday more than 100 people rallied in cars to Toot for TIO in protest against the rushed sale.

The debate on the bill continues.