Australian Conservatives

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Australian Conservatives
Leader Cory Bernardi
Founded 12 April 2017 (2017-04-12)
Split from Liberal Party of Australia
Preceded by Family First Party
Headquarters King William Street, Kent Town, South Australia 5067
Ideology Conservatism[1]
Fiscal conservatism
Social conservatism[2]
Economic liberalism[2]
Political position Right-wing[3]
Colours      Blue,      Red
Slogan ...a better way
Senate
1 / 76
Website
www.conservatives.org.au

The Australian Conservatives is an Australian political party formed and led by Cory Bernardi as a breakaway from the Liberal Party of Australia.[4] The party had been established as a conservative political activist group in July 2016, as response to the results of the 2016 federal election. It was formed as a political party after Bernardi's resignation from the Liberals, following disagreements with the Liberal/National Coalition, its policies and leadership under Malcolm Turnbull. The Family First Party and their two state incumbents Dennis Hood and Robert Brokenshire joined and merged with the Australian Conservatives in April 2017. Brokenshire was not re-elected at the 2018 state election; Hood left the Conservatives to join the Liberal Party of Australia on 26 March 2018.[5]

History[edit]

Activist group[edit]

The Australian Conservatives were established by Senator Bernardi as a conservative political activist group on 6 July 2016.[6] The group was announced by Bernardi on his personal blog as a conservative "movement" to "help change politics and to give common sense a united voice".[6] Bernardi cited the results of the 2016 federal election as a motivator for the group's establishment, stating that "over 1.7m votes were cast for right-of-centre or conservative parties rather than the Liberals", and that "the clear mission now is to bring people together for the good of the country."[6] Despite contemporary media speculation when he created the group,[7] following numerous public expressions of disappointment towards the Liberals, its policies, and leader Malcolm Turnbull,[8][9] he stated that its establishment did not signal any breakaway from the Liberals, of which he was a Senator, and that its intent was to "make the Liberals stronger".[10] Within a month, the group's online newsletter reached over 50,000 subscribers.[11][12]

Queensland Liberal National Party of Queensland MP George Christensen was one of the first Coalition members of Parliament to support Bernardi and the Australian Conservatives, following his shared dissatisfaction with the election results.[13][14] Despite this, Bernardi hinted otherwise in the months following, often going against Coalition policy and criticising the government, in particular over the Racial Discrimination Act debate, especially 18C.[15] In late December 2016, Bernardi held controversial meetings with members of the United States presidential campaign of Donald Trump, allegedly in preparation for forming a breakaway party after continued dissatisfaction with the party and its policies,[16][17] While he refrained from commenting on renewed speculation that he would split, he was met with negative reception from fellow party colleagues,[17][18] including former Prime Minister and Liberal leader Tony Abbott.[19]

Party foundation[edit]

Australian Conservatives founder and leader Cory Bernardi

On 7 February 2017, Bernardi announced his resignation from the Liberals through a speech in the Senate, opting to advance the Australian Conservatives as a political party, and sit on the Senate crossbench as its leader.[20][21] In his speech, Bernardi claimed that "the level of public disenchantment with the major parties, the lack of confidence in our political process and the concern about the direction of our nation is very, very strong," and rationalised the creation of the Conservatives as a political party with the "need to find a better way".[21] Bernardi also cited the resurgence and rise of conservative parties such as Pauline Hanson's One Nation as proof of such.[22] Although dissatisfaction with the leadership of the Coalition was still shared by many in Parliament, numerous members have since denied any intention to join the Australian Conservatives,[14] with most of them strongly criticising Bernardi — some described his move as a "betrayal".[20][23] Tony Pasin, in particular, described Bernardi's move as unsurprising, "given the way that conservatives from South Australia are treated by the leadership of the Liberals".[14]

On 7 April 2017, Kirralie Smith — a former candidate for the Australian Liberty Alliance and a member of the Q Society of Australia and Senate candidate for New South Wales in 2016—joined the party.[24] The Australian Liberty Alliance discussed the prospect of merging with the Australian Conservatives, but ultimately declined the offer.[25] Australian Conservatives was registered as a political party with the Australian Electoral Commission on 12 April 2017.[26] Later that month, the party formed a Senate voting bloc with the Liberal Democratic Party Senator David Leyonhjelm.[27] The party issued a policy release in April, 2017 urging party members to petition major chocolate companies to oppose Easter Eggs being renamed Holiday Eggs.[28] The release caused confusion on the grounds that there was no evidence any major chocolate company had ever done that in Australia, or that anyone had ever asked them to.[29]

In May 2017, Bernardi met the national and Victorian state leadership of the Australian Christians to discuss a merger between the two parties.[30] On 26 June 2017 it was revealed that Victorian MLC Rachel Carling-Jenkins was leaving the Democratic Labour Party to join the Australian Conservatives.[31][32][33] The Democratic Labour Party declined an offer to merge with the Australian Conservatives.[34] On 11 August 2017, former federal Liberal MP Dennis Jensen announced that he was defecting to the Australian Conservatives, and urged Liberal Party members in Western Australia to join him.[35] In September 2017, the Victoria state leadership of the Australian Christians merged between the two parties.[36][37]

In February 2018, Lyle Shelton (lobbyist) resigned from his lobbying position at Australian Christian Lobby to enter party politics, joining the Australian Conservatives as federal communications director. It has been speculated that he will be one of the party's candidates at the next federal election.[38][39] Later that month, former One Nation Senator Fraser Anning joined the party's voting bloc in the Senate, but remained an independent Senator.[40]

Merger with Family First[edit]

On 25 April 2017, it was announced that the Family First Party would merge with the Australian Conservatives, with its two members of the South Australian Legislative Council joining the party.[41] Newly-appointed Family First senator Lucy Gichuhi did not join the Conservatives, and became an independent senator when Family First was disbanded.[42] Gichuhi was invited to join the Australian Conservatives' voting bloc in the Senate,[27] but ultimately chose to join the Liberal Party.[43]

Family First was generally considered to be part of the Christian right.[citation needed] Though it had no formal affiliation with any particular religious organisation, Family First was strongly linked to the Pentecostal church in South Australia, and nationally with smaller Christian denominations.[citation needed] Family First in South Australia was viewed as an infusion of ex-Liberals via Robert Brokenshire and Bob Day. The party advocated a moral and family values agenda, but Day, who would become Family First's major donor, later reoriented Family First to emphasise issues such as industrial relations reform, free speech and smaller government, which brought Family First closer to Bernardi's Conservatives.[citation needed]

However,according to John Macaulay, an executive of the Australian Conservatives Board, and the dissolution document of Family First, the Party did not merge with the Australian Conservtives. The Family First executive voted to dissolve the party, and in accordance with Australian law, they donated all their assets to the Australian Conservative Party. [44][better source needed]

Electoral Performance[edit]

The party made modest showings at the 2017 Bennelong and 2018 Batman by-elections, achieving primary vote of 4.29% and 6.41%, respectively, the latter in the absence of Liberal Party candidate, failing to elect a candidate in either instance. In March 2018, the party appeared to have lost both upper house representatives in the South Australian Legislative Council, with the apparent failure to reelect Robert Brokenshire, and the defection of parliamentary leader Dennis Hood to the Liberal Party of South Australia, which nine days prior had won government in the 2018 South Australian State Election.[45] At the election, the Australian Conservatives suffered a −3.2% swing (from a Family First vote of 6.2% in 2014) for a lower house primary vote of 3.0%, and a −0.9% swing (from a Family First vote of 4.4% in 2014) for an upper house primary vote of 3.5%.[46][47]

Parliamentary representatives[edit]

Current[edit]

Federal

Former[edit]

State

Policies[edit]

The Australian Conservatives' policies include:[49]

Oppose[edit]

Support[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Cory Bernardi to quit Liberals to form own conservative party". The Guardian. 5 February 2017. 
  2. ^ a b "Cory Bernardi to split with Coalition to form Australian Conservatives party". ABC News. 6 February 2017. 
  3. ^ "Cory Bernardi: Australia senator launches right-wing party". BBC. 7 February 2017. 
  4. ^ "About". conservatives.org.au. Retrieved 8 February 2017. 
  5. ^ a b c Harmsen, Nick (26 March 2018). "Dennis Hood dumps Cory Bernardi's Australian Conservatives to join SA Liberals". ABC News. Retrieved 26 March 2018. 
  6. ^ a b c Karp, Paul (6 July 2016). "Cory Bernardi establishes rightwing movement Australian Conservatives". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Archived from the original on 7 February 2017. Retrieved 7 February 2017. 
  7. ^ Maley, Jacqueline (6 July 2016). "Cory Bernardi 'in talks' to break away from Malcolm Turnbull's Liberal Party". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Archived from the original on 7 February 2017. Retrieved 7 February 2017. 
  8. ^ Shepherd, Tory (3 July 2016). "Bernardi lashes out over 'damaged' Liberal brand". The Advertiser. News Corp Australia. Archived from the original on 7 February 2017. Retrieved 7 February 2017. 
  9. ^ Murphy, Katharine (3 July 2016). "Marriage equality: Cory Bernardi says no need to hurry on plebiscite". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Archived from the original on 7 February 2017. Retrieved 7 February 2017. 
  10. ^ nine.com.au staff (6 July 2016). "Cory Bernardi denies split from Liberal Party". Nine News. Nine Entertainment Co. Archived from the original on 7 February 2017. Retrieved 7 February 2017. 
  11. ^ Owens, Jared (2 August 2016). "Bernardi group sign up 50,000". The Australian. News Corp Australia. Retrieved 7 February 2017. 
  12. ^ Rao, Shoba (2 August 2016). "Cory Bernardi gets 50,000 supporters for his new Australian Conservatives group". News.com.au. News Corp Australia. Archived from the original on 7 February 2017. Retrieved 7 February 2017. 
  13. ^ Australian Associated Press (7 July 2016). "Qld LNP boss backs new conservative group". News.com.au. News Corp Australia. Archived from the original on 7 February 2017. Retrieved 7 February 2017. 
  14. ^ a b c Crowe, David (7 February 2017). "Show You're Listening: Backbench Tells Turnbull". The Australian. News Corp Australia. Retrieved 7 February 2017. 
  15. ^ Hunter, Fergus (28 September 2016). "Cory Bernardi urges government to adopt 'delicate, nuanced' versions of One Nation policy". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Archived from the original on 7 February 2017. Retrieved 7 February 2017. 
  16. ^ W. Purcell, Paul (22 December 2016). "SA Senator and Australian Conservatives founder Cory Bernardi reportedly considering a split from the Liberal Party". The Daily Telegraph. News Corp Australia. Archived from the original on 7 February 2017. Retrieved 7 February 2017. 
  17. ^ a b Bickers, Claire (22 December 2016). "Cory Bernardi eyeing Donald Trump-inspired party". News.com.au. News Corp Australia. Archived from the original on 7 February 2017. Retrieved 7 February 2017. 
  18. ^ Willingham, Richard (22 December 2016). "Jeff Kennett slams Cory Bernardi, predicts Liberals will have closer 'alignment' with One Nation". The Age. Fairfax Media. Archived from the original on 7 February 2017. Retrieved 7 February 2017. 
  19. ^ Patel, Uma (30 December 2016). "Abbott and Bernardi trade barbs over conservative unrest". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Archived from the original on 7 February 2017. Retrieved 7 February 2017. 
  20. ^ a b Uhlmann, Chris; Norman, Jane (7 February 2017). "Cory Bernardi to split with Coalition to form Australian Conservatives party". ABC News Australia. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 7 February 2017. Retrieved 7 February 2017. 
  21. ^ a b Massola, James (7 February 2017). "Cory Bernardi breaks silence, quits the Liberal Party in Senate speech". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Archived from the original on 7 February 2017. Retrieved 7 February 2017. 
  22. ^ Reuters (7 February 2017). "Prominent Australian senator to set up conservative party in another blow to PM Turnbull". The Straits Times. Singapore Press Holdings. Archived from the original on 7 February 2017. Retrieved 7 February 2017. 
  23. ^ McIlroy, Tom (7 February 2017). "Peter Dutton, Barnaby Joyce slam Cory Bernardi 'betrayal'". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Archived from the original on 7 February 2017. Retrieved 7 February 2017. 
  24. ^ Corporate or institutional Author. "About Kirralie Smith". Retrieved 2017-02-11. 
    Corporate or institutional Author. "About Us". Retrieved 2017-02-11. 
    "Kirralie Smith joins Australian Conservatives". Australian Conservatives. 2017-04-07. Retrieved 2017-04-25. 
    Federal Politics (2017-04-08). "Anti-halal leader Kirralie Smith joins Cory Bernardi's Australian Conservatives". Brisbanetimes.com.au. Retrieved 2017-04-25. 
  25. ^ "Wilders-backed ALA won't join Bernardi". SBS. 11 April 2017. 
  26. ^ "Australian Conservatives, party registration approval" (PDF). Australian Electoral Commission. 13 April 2017. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 April 2017. 
  27. ^ a b "Bernardi's alliance intends to bloc Xenophon". The Australian. 27 April 2017. 
  28. ^ "Easter Egg Not Holiday Eggs". Australian Conservatives. Archived from the original on 25 May 2017. Retrieved 25 May 2015. 
  29. ^ Sainty, Lane (7 April 2017). "Conservatives Are Fighting For Easter But No One Knows Who Their Opponents Are". Buzzfeed. Archived from the original on 20 July 2017. Retrieved 25 May 2017. 
  30. ^ "Cory Bernardi approaches Australian Christians for Family First-style merger". Crikey. 15 May 2017. 
  31. ^ "Cory Bernardi strikes again, luring another MP to his Australian Conservatives". Smh.com.au. 2017-06-26. Retrieved 2017-08-22. 
  32. ^ "Cory Bernardi's Australian Conservatives secures Victorian DLP MP Rachel Carling-Jenkins". Abc.net.au. 2017-06-26. Retrieved 2017-08-22. 
  33. ^ "Victorian MP Rachel Carling-Jenkins set to defect to Australian Conservatives party". News.com.au. 2017-06-26. Retrieved 2017-08-22. 
  34. ^ "Cory Bernardi targets Victorian election after recruiting upper house MP Rachel Carling-Jenkins". Theage.com.au. 2017-06-26. Retrieved 2017-08-22. 
  35. ^ "Ex-Liberal MP Jensen defects to Bernardi's new party". The Australian. 11 August 2017. 
  36. ^ "Heraldsun.com.au - Subscribe to the Herald Sun for exclusive stories". www.heraldsun.com.au. 
  37. ^ "Australian Christians disbanding in Vic". News.com.au. 2017-08-30. Retrieved 2017-09-13. 
  38. ^ Lyle Shelton joins Cory Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives, The Guardian Australia, 4 February 2018
  39. ^ Doherty, Ben (3 February 2018). "Lyle Shelton quits Australian Christian Lobby to enter politics". the Guardian. 
  40. ^ "Cory Bernardi forms right-wing alliance with David Leyonhjelm and Fraser Anning". www.9news.com.au. 
  41. ^ Green, Antony (26 April 2017). "The Urge to merge – Family First and the Australian Conservatives". ABC. Retrieved 4 May 2017. 
  42. ^ "Bernardi's Australian Conservatives to merge with Family First". ABC News. 25 April 2017. Retrieved 25 April 2017. 
  43. ^ "'Australian success story': PM welcomes Gichuhi to Liberals". SBS. 
  44. ^ Family First Dissolution Document
  45. ^ "Cory Bernardi lashes out at former colleagues over 'plans to defect to Liberals'". ABC News. 28 March 2018. Retrieved 28 March 2018. 
  46. ^ 2018 SA election results: ABC
  47. ^ 2018 SA election results: ECSA
  48. ^ Preiss, Benjamin; Tomazin, Farrah (August 4, 2018). "It's over: Cory Bernardi's only Victorian MP sensationally quits". The Age. Retrieved August 5, 2018. 
  49. ^ "Our Policies". Australian Conservatives. Retrieved 15 February 2018. 

External links[edit]