Cory Bernardi

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Cory Bernardi
Cory Bernardi crop.jpg
Senator for South Australia
Assumed office
4 May 2006
Preceded by Robert Hill
Personal details
Born (1969-11-06) 6 November 1969 (age 45)
Adelaide, South Australia
Nationality Australian
Political party Liberal Party of Australia
Spouse(s) Sinéad Bernardi
Children 2
Residence Adelaide, South Australia
Alma mater Prince Alfred College
Occupation Senator
Religion Roman Catholicism[1]
Website Senator Cory Bernardi official website

Cory Bernardi (born 6 November 1969, Adelaide) is an Australian politician and the author of The Conservative Revolution.[2][3] He has been a Liberal Party member of the Australian Senate since 2006, representing the state of South Australia.

Personal life[edit]

Bernardi is the son of an Italian immigrant father who came to Australia in 1958.[4]

Cory Bernardi, whose maternal grandfather was a trade unionist and a staunch Labor supporter,[5] was born and raised in Adelaide and attended Prince Alfred College in Kent Town, South Australia.[5] He went on to undertake a business and management course at Adelaide Institute of Technology before winning a scholarship and furthering his rowing career at the Australian Institute of Sport in 1989.[5][6]

Bernardi represented Australia in the sport of rowing in 1988 and 1989. In doing so at the age of 18, he is the youngest person to have represented Australia in the open heavyweight men's division of rowing. Bernardi, rowing in a Mercantile Rowing Club eight, won the Ladies' Challenge Plate at the Henley Royal Regatta in England.[7] He also competed at the 1989 World Rowing Championships in Bled (in what was then Yugoslavia and is now the Republic of Slovenia), as part of the coxless four, and came tenth.[8] Bernardi suffered a back injury later that same year which effectively ended his rowing career.[4]

He and his Irish-born wife Sinéad, an economics graduate,[5] have two sons.[9]

Political career[edit]

Following the resignation of Robert Hill from the Senate in March 2006 to become Ambassador to the United Nations, Bernardi was selected by the Liberal Party to fill the vacancy. His senate term officially commenced on 4 May 2006.[10] He was elected to a full six-year term at the 2007 federal election.

In December 2007, Bernardi was appointed the Federal Coalition's Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Families and Community Services. In September 2008, new Federal Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull appointed Bernardi the Coalition Spokesman for Disabilities, Carers and the Voluntary Sector.[11] Bernardi is a member of the conservative faction or right-wing of the Liberal Party.[12]

On 17 February 2007, Bernardi was pre-selected by the State Council of the South Australian Liberal Party to be the number one candidate on the South Australian Liberal Senate ticket for the federal election[citation needed] to be held in late 2007. He was pre-selected ahead of Simon Birmingham, while Senator Grant Chapman came in third. On 19 March 2008, Bernardi, the Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Families, was named in a story published in The Australian newspaper[13] as having been linked to a scheme that sold financial advice on how divorcees could hide money from their former spouses.

In a media statement released shortly after the article was released, Bernardi described the story as "a rehash of a factually incorrect story that first appeared in 2006 before my appointment to the Senate". He further claimed that he had been "made aware that a colleague has been approaching numerous journalists in an attempt to 'push' this matter as a means of personally attacking me". The statement went on to say, "I find it disappointing that there are people who clearly pine to background journalists with half-truths and mischievous suggestions in an attempt to smear others. The people who creep out of their darkened closets to resurrect previously discredited accusations do no service to themselves or the community. Politics is a battle of ideas, not a battle of smears."[14]

On 20 March 2008, Bernardi introduced a motion calling for a Senate inquiry into swearing on television and the effectiveness of the Code of Practice after a television show was broadcast at 8.30pm containing the word "fuck" eighty times in 40 minutes.[15] The Senate supported the motion. In June 2008, Bernardi stated his personal view on regarding proposed gay reform. He states that "Same-sex relationships are not the same as marital relationships and to treat them the same is to suspend common sense".[16] Writing on the ABC "unleashed" website in July 2008, Bernardi questioned the ethics of granting human rights to great apes while ignoring the rights of the unborn child.[17]

In August 2008, it was reported in the Herald Sun newspaper that the Federal Parliamentary Library had, following a request from Bernardi, identified a loophole in government legislation that allowed some women who aborted their pregnancies to claim the $5000 "baby bonus". The Government stated that the bonus was not available for aborted pregnancies and committed to following up any occurrences of this.[18]

Bernardi caused a stir in October 2008 with a speech to the Senate protesting against the Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws-Superannuation) Bill 2008, which was supported by the Liberal Party under the leadership of Malcolm Turnbull. The bill led to discontent within the Party's conservative faction, of which Bernardi is a leader. Turnbull was "unhappy that Party authority was being challenged" by Bernardi.[19]

In Bernardi's speech, he complained that society should not "throw open the doors and welcome into the fold those whose relationships are uncharacteristic of the most basic elements of a marital union".[20] Turnbull rang Bernardi the next morning to "chip him", having felt that the speech was intemperate in tone, went against the party line, and against Turnbull's leadership.[21]

Bernardi was removed from the Shadow Ministry by Turnbull after reportedly making unsubstantiated claims regarding a fellow Liberal MP in his weekly blog. Recalling an encounter with the Liberal MP at the Royal Adelaide Golf Club about 14 years before, he wrote:

In response to my question of why he joined the Liberal Party, the MP blithely responded "I live in a Liberal seat so I had to be a member of the Liberal Party to get into Parliament. If I lived in a Labor seat I would have joined the Labor Party". Frankly I was aghast at this response. Where was the conviction, the beliefs, the values that I believe should motivate our political leaders? Several follow up questions disclosed that the only motivation for his own political involvement was for him to become Prime Minister.

The MP involved was thought to be Christopher Pyne, who denied the allegations as "preposterous".[22][23][24]

Following the election of Tony Abbott as the leader of the federal Liberal Party in late 2009, Bernardi was appointed Shadow Parliamentary Secretary Assisting the Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Infrastructure and Population Policy. In August 2012 Bernardi was appointed as the Deputy Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate. In September, 2012, Bernardi resigned from his position as parliamentary secretary as a result of statements he had made the day before, when he argued that permitting same-sex marriages would lead to legalised polygamy and bestiality.[25]

In January 2014, Prime Minister Abbott, once again distanced himself from Bernardi after the latter called for a new debate on abortion, called for more flexible industrial relations laws, stated his belief in the primacy of the traditional family and claimed that non-traditional families may cause negative social outcomes,[26] linked a secular polity with Australia having lost its way and claimed that Christianity was under siege from both the political Greens party and the religion of Islam.[27]

Political views[edit]

Global warming[edit]

On 21 April 2007, Bernardi published an essay questioning whether global warming was caused by human activities. Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull and other Liberal parliamentarians promptly distanced themselves from his views.[28]


Bernardi has been publicly critical of Islam.[29][30] In 2010, he wrote an opinion piece calling for a ban on wearing the burqa in public.[31]

In 2011, Bernardi referred to the controversy over paying funeral expenses for asylum-seekers, declaring it was "wrong" for the government to pay. He also said that "Islam itself is the problem - it's not Muslims", and that multiculturalism had failed. He subsequently clarified his remarks by stating "When I say I'm against Islam, I mean that the fundamentalist Islamic approach of changing laws and values does not have my support."[32]

For these comments he received death threats.[33] Liberal leader Tony Abbott distanced himself from the comments.[34]

Bernardi has been associated [clarification needed] with Dutch politician Geert Wilders whose vocal concerns about Islam are shared by Bernardi, and met Wilders in Europe.[35] Bernardi offered to assist Wilders in a visit to Australia but, in February 2013 when Wilders did come, Bernardi did not meet with him. Wilders stated in an interview that Bernardi's decision not to meet him was a "sad but true" reflection on politics, particularly in an election year.[36][37] The opposition treasury spokesman, Joe Hockey, said in response "Neither Cory Bernardi nor the Coalition will be facilitating this visit."[38]

Abbott rejected suggestions that Bernardi was trying to bring Wilders to Australia, saying the Coalition had nothing to do with the organisation of any trip.[39]

Publicly funded broadcasting[edit]

Bernardi has publicly expressed his concern over the effect of Australia's public broadcaster (the Australian Broadcasting Corporation) on commercial operators. His view is that the ABC has grown beyond its initial charter and its size is unjustifiably encroaching into the online news sphere at the expense of commercial operators and media diversity. However, Bernard supports the continued existence of iView (internet based television service) and podcasting services. Bernardi agrees that the ABC provides useful services to regional areas often under-serviced by commercial operators; however, he suggests that the scale of the ABC's funding should be reviewed.[40]

Violence against women[edit]

In November 2014, Bernardi created controversy when he stated during a senate inquiry that workers at Women's House Shelta, Queensland's oldest women's domestic violence refuge, were not experts on domestic violence, and that there are times when it is appropriate for a man to put his partner in a headlock.[41]


  1. ^ "Catholics, world leaders welcome church's new Pope Francis". 14 March 2013. Retrieved 16 January 2015. 
  2. ^ The Conservative Revolution. Ballarat: Connor Court Press. 2013. 
  3. ^ Torrisi, Luke (12 January 2014). "First 'Shots Fired' in Australia’s Culture War, 2014". SydneyTrads. 
  4. ^ a b "There is something clearly wrong with our current migration system",; accessed 8 December 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d Neighbour, Sally (December 2011). "All About Cory". The Monthly. 
  6. ^ Excellence: the Australian Institute of Sport. Canberra: Australian sports Commission. 2002. p. 103. ISBN 1-74013-060-X. 
  7. ^ History of Mercantile Rowing Club,; accessed 8 December 2014.
  8. ^ Bernardi performance in the 1989 World Rowing Championships,; accessed 8 December 2014.
  9. ^ "Panellist Cory Bernardi". Q&A. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 6 January 2014. 
  10. ^ Parliament of Australia (12 May 2006). "Biography for BERNARDI, Cory". Parlinfo Web. Retrieved 14 May 2006. 
  11. ^ "Media Release". Retrieved 22 August 2008. 
  12. ^ Cory Bernardi sacked from Coalition's junior shadow ministry, Telegraph. 19 February 2009
  13. ^ Karvelas, Patricia (19 March 2008). "Cash-hiding plan linked to Lib MP". The Australian. Retrieved 18 March 2008. 
  14. ^ "Statement Relating to Article In 'The Australian'". Retrieved 22 August 2008. 
  15. ^ Justin Vallejo (21 March 2008). "Ramsay's f-words called foul". Daily Telegraph. 
  16. ^ "Don’t confuse marriage with discrimination"
  17. ^ Monkeying Around with Human Rights,; accessed 8 December 2014.
  18. ^ "Loophole allows baby bonus for late abortions",; accessed 8 December 2014.
  19. ^ "Turnbull calls for unity on gay laws",; accessed 8 December 2014.
  20. ^ Senate Hansard,; accessed 8 December 2014.
  21. ^ "Social values prove to be Turnbull's first test", Sydney Morning Herald, 20 October 2008.
  22. ^ "Turnbull sacks SA Senator Bernardi", ABC, 19 February 2009
  23. ^ "Turnbull sacks frontbencher for turning on Pyne", Sydney Morning Herald, 19 February 2009.
  24. ^ "Turnbull sacks frontbencher over blog", Canberra Times, 20 February 2009.
  25. ^ Cullen, Simon. (19 September 2012) Bernardi resigns after bestiality comment,; retrieved 19 September 2012.
  26. ^ Harrison, Dan (7 January 2014). "Senator Cory Bernardi's call for new abortion debate sidestepped by PM". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
  27. ^ Porter, Andrew. "The real danger in Cory Bernardi's comments". The Drum. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
  28. ^ Anderson, Laura; Starick, Paul (23 April 2007). "Libs snub Bernardi climate call". The Advertiser. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  29. ^ Harvey, Michael, Lewis, Steve (19 February 2011). "Islam's the problems, not Muslims, says Senator Cory Bernardi". Herald Sun. Retrieved 21 April 2012. 
  30. ^ Welch, Dylan (8 September 2011). "Senator strikes sour note with demand for Muslim denunciation". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 21 April 2012. 
  31. ^ Bernardi, Cory (6 May 2010). "For Australia's sake, we need to ban the burqa". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 6 May 2010. 
  32. ^ "Abbott rejects MP's Islam remark". The Age (Melbourne). 19 February 2011. 
  33. ^ "Islam's the problems, not Muslims, says Senator Cory Bernardi",; 19 February 2011.
  34. ^ Liberal death threat via email, Daily Telegraph, 19 February 2011.
  35. ^ Sally Neighbour (December 2011). "All About Cory - Cory Bernardi, Conservative Warrior". The Monthly. Retrieved 7 June 2013. 
  36. ^ "Anti-Islam campaigner coming to Australia". Lateline. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 13 February 2013. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  37. ^ Savva, Niki. "Gillard is Coalition's preferred PM". The Australian. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  38. ^ "Senator strikes sour note with demand for Muslim denunciation". The Sydney Morning Herald. 8 September 2011. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  39. ^ "Libs under fire for Dutch 'extremist'",; accessed 8 December 2014.
  40. ^ Kelly, Fran. "Cory Bernardi: ABC 'cannibalising' commercial online news". Radio National. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 6 January 2014. 
  41. ^ Brennan, Rose. "Putting a woman in a headlock sometimes justified, Cory Bernardi tells domestic violence inquiry". The Courier Mail. News Corp. Retrieved 7 November 2014. 

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