Early voting opens for Territory election

Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner has cast his vote in the August 22 election.
Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner has cast his vote in the August 22 election.

Early voting in the Northern Territory election is underway with Chief Minister Michael Gunner one of the first to cast his vote.

Mr Gunner led Labor to a solid win in 2016 but has since been dogged by concerns for the struggling Top End economy.

He'll be hoping his deft handling of the COVID-19 crisis bolsters Territory Labor's chances of retaining office.

"Over the next two weeks, all Territorians have an important choice to make," Mr Gunner wrote on Facebook with a photo of him casting his vote on Monday.

"To me, the choice is clear."

But that may not be the case for all voters after a recent finance report showed net NT debt will hit a predicted $8.25 billion.

Opposition Leader Lia Finocchiaro said it's a blow out and people want to know what has the Gunner government has done with all the cash.

"Territorians are concerned about the future," she told reporters.

"With these levels of debt it's going to burn our children for many decades to come if something doesn't change."

Ms Finocchiaro took over leadership of the Country Liberal Party in February and faces a near-impossible task to take victory after the party was left with just two seats following the last election.

Labor may struggle to win enough of the 16 seats it currently holds to form a majority of 13 in parliament, after it was revealed the Top End's newest party, the Territory Alliance, and the CLP will ask voters to preference each other ahead of Labor.

Led by former Country Liberal Party chief minister Terry Mills, the Alliance is regarded as legitimate contender on August 22.

But with the NT Electoral Commission predicting up to 80 per cent of Territorians could cast their vote before election day, it may take some time to finalise results.

Australian Associated Press