The former deputy chief minister of the Northern Territory has characterised his parliamentary colleagues as a back-stabbing “nest of vipers”, and says if he is disendorsed from the deputy role he may leave the party.
Dave Tollner was forced to resign last Friday when homophobic comments he made to a gay staffer son of his colleague were made public.
“With such a lack of support I had no choice,” he told Mix 104.9 radio on Friday.
“Members of my own team were out there attacking me publicly.”
He said more than one person leaked his comments.
“There are (newcomers) in that team … that I feel extraordinarily sad for; they’ve come into what can be best perceived as a nest of vipers,” he said.
Mr Tollner said he wanted his Country Liberal Party colleagues to vote for his reinstatement at a parliamentary wing meeting on Monday afternoon that will determine the next deputy.
However, he said he is resigned to the fact that won’t happen.
“Because while I’m sitting there working my butt off… I’ve got a bunch of colleagues sitting behind me throwing knives in my back.”
He said that when he asked Attorney-General John Elferink on Friday morning if he could expect the support from a majority of colleagues in the ballot he was told “not a hope in hell”.
But Mr Tollner has shown no contrition over his comments, saying that the staffer was not angry with him and that he shouldn’t be publicly punished for joking comments made in private.
“Contrition for what? What have I done wrong?” he said.
“The reality was, I was doing a damn fine job… why wouldn’t they want that to continue?”
The government currently holds 13 seats in the 25-seat Legislative Assembly, and if Mr Tollner leaves the party it could be forced into a minority position.
“What’s become very clear is that Dave Tollner is the one-man wrecking ball of the CLP government,” said Ken Vowles, Labor’s shadow minister for government accountability.
“(Chief Minister) Adam Giles didn’t have the numbers to keep his deputy chief minister – his best mate – in the job; that means he’s desperately trying to hold on to his own leadership.
“I would not be surprised if come Monday we have a third chief minister in the NT in two years.”
Chief Minister Adam Giles said Mr Tollner’s possible departure was a matter for the former minister to decide.
“Nobody wants to see us govern with a gun to our head, doesn’t matter who that is,” he said.
“People need to grow up and stop looking at themselves and start looking at the rest of the Territory.
“I’ve had a gutful and so has everyone else.”