Lia Finocchiaro

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Lia Finocchiaro

Member of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly
for Spillett
Assumed office
27 August 2016
Preceded bynew seat
Member of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly
for Drysdale
In office
25 August 2012 – 27 August 2016
Preceded byRoss Bohlin
Succeeded byEva Lawler
Personal details
Lia Emele Finocchiaro

(1984-09-20) 20 September 1984 (age 34)
Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia
Political partyCountry Liberal Party
Spouse(s)Sam Burke
ResidencePalmerston, Northern Territory
Alma materUniversity of Adelaide

Lia Emele Finocchiaro (born 20 September 1984) is an Australian politician. She has been a Country Liberal Party member of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly for the seat of Spillett since her election in 2016. She is also the deputy leader of the CLP, and hence Deputy Leader of the Opposition.

She was previously the member for Drysdale from 2012 to 2016.

Early life[edit]

Finocchiaro was born in the Northern Territory and grew up in Palmerston. She studied the International Baccalaureate diploma, then graduated with a double degree in law and international studies from the University of Adelaide.[1] She returned to Darwin in 2008, and was admitted as a legal practitioner in the Northern Territory, commencing work as a graduate clerk at the Clayton Utz law firm. She also received a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice from Charles Darwin University.[2]


In 2012, the Country Liberal Party preselected Finocchiaro for the central Palmerston seat of Drysdale in that year's election, instead of sitting CLP member Ross Bohlin, who unsuccessfully ran against her as a conservative independent.[3] She was the youngest MLA in the history of the Legislative Assembly.[4]

On 7 March 2013, Finocchiaro was elevated to the Second Mills Ministry, becoming Minister for Sport and Recreation, Racing, Statehood, Young Territorians and Senior Territorians. Aged 28, she was the youngest minister in Territory history.[5][6][4] However, she was dropped from the ministry on 14 March after Adam Giles successfully challenged then-Chief Minister Terry Mills only a week later.[7]

Following a redistribution of electoral boundaries, Finocchiaro sought CLP preselection for the new seat of Spillett, taking in strong conservative suburbs between Darwin and Palmerston—including her base in Durack. She defeated Treasurer Dave Tollner for CLP preselection. Finocchiaro went into the 2016 election with a notional majority of 17.9%, making Spillett the CLP's safest seat in Darwin/Palmerston at the time.

CLP deputy leadership[edit]

On election night, the Territory swung heavily to Labor, which won a landslide majority government. However, Finocchiaro weathered this massive Labor wave with only a small swing against her in Spillett, proving to be in the least danger of the CLP's elected members. She was the only CLP member whose reelection was assured on election night, and for a few days it was possible that she would be the only CLP member left in the legislature.[4] Ultimately, Finocchiaro was joined by fellow second-term member Gary Higgins. Meanwhile, her previous seat of Drysdale was lost to Labor candidate Eva Lawler.

On 2 September, Higgins, the sole survivor of the Giles cabinet, became CLP leader and opposition leader, with Finocchiaro as his deputy.[8] Finnochiaro faced the task of helping the CLP recover from one of the worst defeats of a sitting government at the state or territory level in Australia. The CLP was recognised as the Official Opposition after the Solicitor-General advised that the five independents could not realistically form an alternative government. Although the CLP was well short of the numbers for official status in the chamber, the new Labor government of Michael Gunner promised that the CLP would be properly resourced as an opposition.[9]

As the sole opposition MPs in the Assembly, Higgins and Finocchiaro divided all opposition portfolios between them. Finocchiaro serves as Shadow Minister for Justice and Attorney-General, as well as Shadow Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services, Health, Children, Territory Families, Education, Trade, and Essential Services.[10] She also serves as Opposition Whip. Under these circumstances it is unusual that Finocchiaro is given this position, since the Opposition Whip is responsible for ensuring party MPs toe the official party line. However, Finocchiaro does not really have the responsibility to keep anyone in line since there are only two members in the CLP party room, herself and Higgins.


  1. ^ NT Young Australian of the Year 2012 - Territory Finalist Archived 16 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Australian of the Year, 2012.
  2. ^ Drysdale (Key Seat), Northern Territory Votes 2012, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, August 2012.
  3. ^ Crawford, Sarah: New face of Drysdale, NT News, 23 April 2012.
  4. ^ a b c La Canna, Xavier (29 August 2016). "Who is Lia Finocchiaro, who may be the only opposition MLA in NT Parliament?". ABC News.
  5. ^ La Canna, Xavier (7 March 2013). "Infighting, insults plague NT government". The Australian. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  6. ^ "Cabinet Reshuffle". Media release. Terry Mills MLA. 7 March 2013. Archived from the original on 12 April 2013. Retrieved 14 March 2013.
  7. ^ "Angry Mills says turns his back on Giles cabinet". ABC News. 14 March 2013. Retrieved 14 March 2013.
  8. ^ "Gary Higgins becomes Country Liberals' new leader, Lia Finnochiaro his deputy". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2 September 2016. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  9. ^ Oaten, James (30 August 2016). "Independents won't be recognised as opposition in NT: official advice". ABC News (Australia).
  10. ^ Shadow Ministry for 13th Legislative Assembly

External links[edit]

Northern Territory Legislative Assembly
Preceded by
Ross Bohlin
Member for Drysdale
Succeeded by
Eva Lawler
New seat Member for Spillett