Embattled Northern Territory leader Adam Giles has “virtually complete authority” following a failed coup, according to former deputy Dave Tollner.
The outspoken MP also says he will “absolutely” leave the party should challenger Willem Westra van Holthe become leader but denies the threat amounts to blackmailing colleagues.
Mr Tollner has been in purgatory since August, banished to the back bench after making homophobic remarks to a gay staffer.
With a new territory cabinet expected to be announced next week, however, he is widely tipped to make a return.
“I was just being honest,” he told Mix 104.9 radio in Darwin on Friday of his outspoken support of Mr Giles.
“There’s this view promulgated that you all have to fall in line,” he said. “(But) that’s not my view.”
Mr Tollner claimed Mr Giles had almost 100 per cent support from the Country Liberals, separate from the parliamentary wing, and this put him in “a very powerful position”.
“I think Adam is in the absolute ascendancy, he has virtually complete authority, which is something he hasn’t had in the past,” he said.
“I want to see him put his stamp on the team.”
Further, he said the CLP was about to call for expressions of interest in pre-selection, which would “make people sit back and say hang on”.
Mr Tollner said there had been a unanimous vote by the wing in favour of a team of Mr Giles as leader with Mr Westra van Holthe as deputy.
But sacked frontbencher and coup organiser Robyn Lambley denied on Wednesday that a vote had been taken and claimed Mr Giles did not have the full support of the parliamentary wing.
Mr Tollner said Monday night’s coup attempt was one of the most embarrassing things he’d seen from a Country Liberals government.
“I’m absolutely ashamed,” he said.
“If they can’t unite there’s got to be an election and it should happen sooner rather than later.”
He denied the CLP’s tenure to date had been a litany of disasters.
Elected in August 2012, Mr Giles seized leadership from former chief minister Terry Mills six months into government.
There have been two leaders and four deputies in two-and-a-half years.
“We won the election and there was a change of leadership. You might consider that a disaster (but) I certainly don’t,” Mr Tollner said.
“I think Adam Giles is the greatest thing to happen in this term of government.”