Natasha Fyles’ elevation to the top job in the Territory Government has been praised by Indigenous leaders.

Ms Fyles was on Friday revealed as Labor’s pick to take over as NT Chief Minister following the shock retirement of Michael Gunner earlier in the week.

Northern Land Council chairman Samuel Bush-Blanasi said he respected Ms Fyles’ strong links to the Territory.

“Ms Fyles is Territory born, with solid connections throughout the NT, including with
Traditional Owners,” he said.

“Ms Fyles knows that having Aboriginal representatives involved in decision making is the
best way to improve the lives of our mob and it is the only way to prevent unsuccessful
initiatives that we have seen in the past.

“We need someone in the NT’s top job who will respect us and understand our communities and I’m confident that the new Chief Minister will listen to our mob when it comes to land rights, housing, health, justice and education and employment.”

Mr Bush-Blanasi said Ms Fyles work as health minister during the COVID-19 pandemic had protected Indigenous communities.

That sentiment was shared by Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT chief executive John Paterson, who said Ms Fyles had a close working relationship with the Aboriginal community-controlled health sector.

“AMSANT would also like to acknowledge the contribution of outgoing Chief Minister,
Michael Gunner, who has led important reforms in Aboriginal empowerment, justice and
treaty and provided strong leadership on border controls in the initial phase of the COVID
pandemic that protected our community,” he said.

“The Gunner government also strongly supported the Closing the Gap National Agreement
and development of an NT Closing the Gap partnership with APO NT to drive reforms that
are crucial to improving outcomes for our mob.

“We are confident that Chief Minister Fyles will continue to strongly support these reforms,
particularly the need to support and expand program and service delivery by Aboriginal
controlled organisations.”

Mr Gunner on Tuesday stood down from the role, saying his head and heart were no longer in the job.