Amid global trends to alternative right-wing, anti-immigration political movements, Australia has answered the call and proved it won’t be an exception.
South Australia senator Cory Bernadi had ditched his lifelong association with the governing Liberal Party, for whom he has served as an elected representative since 2006.
Rumours surrounding Bernadi breaking from the Coalition have been circling for months, with the senator citing increased “political correctness” under Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull as his reason for resignation.
Bernadi was a loyal supporter of former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who Mr. Turnbull bet in a leadership contest late in 2015.
Bernadi has long sat outside the mainstream. In 2007 Bernadi published an essay questioning the reality of man-made climate change, caused by carbon emissions. At the time the essay was criticised and rubbished by the then environment minister Turnbull.
Elsewhere Bernadi has gained popular following for his strong criticism of Islam and multiculturalism. Since 2010 he has supported a ban of the burqa headdress and has enjoyed a close association with far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders. More recently he has voiced support for President Donald Trump, endorsing the Republican ahead of the election.
He has called for funding cuts to Australia’s public broadcaster, the ABC, and has been a keen critic of same sex marriage.
An authour of four books, including No Left Turn and On the Right Track, Bernadi in his most recent book, The Conservative Revolution called for a “better Australia through a commitment to faith, family, flag, freedom and free enterprise.”
On Tuesday Bernadi officially resigned from the Liberal Party to immediately form the new Australian Conservatives. His exit ensures his move to the crossbench, and reduces the government’s seat total to just 29 seats out of 76, desperately short of a majority in the senate.
The move means the crossbench now swells at a huge 19 senators, including the ideologically similar One Nation Party. On the economy, the Australian Conservatives and One Nation find some differences with the former supporting a more economically liberal approach.
More recently, on LGBT rights, One Nation has softened its approach and fired a candidate accused of homophobia.
One Nation holds three senate seats and is enjoying a poll surge off the back of widespread dissatisfaction with the two major political parties, particularly the governing Liberal Party. Support for minor parties, not including the Greens, now sits at a huge 19% (up 4 since before the summer break). That support has been slashed from the Coalition. The Liberal, National, LNP and Country Liberals combined garner only 35% support – a poll low not seen since the reign of Tony Abbott.
The Australian Conservatives have outlined their main principles as “Limited Government. Personal Responsibility. Free Enterprise.” and “Civil Society.”
– Bennett Morgan, Capital HardTalk.