Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner has announced his resignation, citing the birth of his second child, the pressure of a pandemic and a heart attack in early 2020 for his decision.

Gunner said he had been reflecting on his future a lot over recent weeks, but knew he could no longer serve as chief minister when he held his newborn son, Nash, on April 29.

“It’s no secret that the last few years have been intense and it has taken a lot out of me, like it has plenty of us,” Gunner said on Tuesday afternoon.

“Add to that a heart attack and a couple of kids, [it] has caused me to reflect a lot over the past few weeks … I’ve always given 100 per cent to this job, anything less is shortchanging the people who sent me here. I can no longer look Territorians in the eye and say I can keep giving 100 per cent every day, and if I can’t do that then I shouldn’t be in the chair.

“I don’t need a second near-death experience to know that life is unpredictable and can be cut short … And when I held Nash for the first time, that was it. Game over. I knew straight away that I was done.”

The 46-year-old said while he was young for a politician, “it’s pretty old for a father of a newborn and a toddler, and that’s who I want to spend more of my time with”.

Gunner will continue as the Member for Fannie Bay and move to the backbench when he returns from paternity leave. He has been the head of the NT government since 2016, and a member of Parliament since 2008.

The father-of-two, who is also the Treasurer of the Northern Territory, made the announcement after handing down the 2022-23 budget on Tuesday morning.

Deputy Chief Minister Nicole Manison will serve as Acting Chief Minister until a new Labor leader is announced. Caucus will meet on Friday to elect the new leader.

In an emotional press conference, Gunner paid tribute to his parliamentary colleagues, staff and family.

More to come.

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