|Leader of the
Australian Conservatives Party
7 February 2017
|Preceded by||Party established|
|Senator for South Australia|
4 May 2006
|Preceded by||Robert Hill|
|President of the Liberal Party
in South Australia
|Preceded by||Robert Lawson|
|Succeeded by||Alexander Downer|
|President of the
Australian Conservatives Group
6 July 2016 – 7 February 2017
|Preceded by||Organization established|
|Succeeded by||Himself (as Leader of the Australian Conservatives Party)|
6 November 1969
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
|Political party||Conservative (2017–present)
|Liberal (until 2017)|
|Residence||Adelaide, South Australia, Australia|
|Education||Prince Alfred College|
|Alma mater||South Australian Institute of Technology
Australian Institute of Sport
Edinburgh Business School
Cory Bernardi (born 6 November 1969) is an Australian politician. He has been a Senator representing the state of South Australia in the Australian Senate since 2006 and is the leader of the Australian Conservatives, a minor political party he founded in 2017. He is a former member of the Liberal Party of Australia, having represented the party in the Senate from 2006 to 2017.
Bernardi entered politics in 2006 when he was selected by the Liberal Party to fill a Senate seat vacancy for South Australia left by the resignation of Robert Hill.
During his time in Parliament, Bernardi has attracted controversy over several statements and views. These include: saying that permitting same-sex marriages would lead to legalised polygamy and bestiality; doubting human activities as a cause of global warming; criticising Islam as "a totalitarian political and religious ideology" and calling for a ban on wearing the burqa in public; opposing abortion and saying those who support it are "pro death"; and saying that the "safe schools program" designed to make homosexual children feel safer at school "bullies" heterosexual children. Several of his colleagues from his own party at the time, distanced themselves from Bernardi's comments, including Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
- 1 Personal life
- 2 Rowing career
- 3 Political career
- 4 Political views and controversies
- 5 Detractors
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Bernardi was born and raised in Adelaide, and attended Prince Alfred College in Kent Town, South Australia. His father was an Italian immigrant who came to Australia in 1958. His maternal grandfather was a trade unionist and a staunch Labor supporter. He went on to undertake a business and management course at South Australian Institute of Technology before winning a scholarship and furthering his rowing career at the Australian Institute of Sport in 1989.
After a back injury terminated his rowing career, Bernardi travelled in Europe and Africa, working as a labourer. Returning to Australia, he managed the family's hotel before spending four months in hospital with tuberculosis. He subsequently worked as a stockbroker and financial adviser before entering politics.
Bernardi made state representative appearances for South Australia in the State Youth VIII at the Australian Rowing Championships in 1987 and 1988. In 1988 Bernardi, rowing in a Mercantile Rowing Club eight, won the Ladies' Challenge Plate at the Henley Royal Regatta in England. The Ladies Challenge Plate is open to 2nd grade/varsity/college crews below the heavyweight international standard.
In 1989 Bernardi was selected in the seven seat of the South Australian Men's Senior VIII. At that year's nationals the interstate events were cancelled when a cyclone hit the Wellington Dam course in WA part-way through the programme of events. An unofficial men's eight race was held three weeks later at Carrum in Victoria attended by the Victorian, Western Australian and South Australian crews who raced for the Patten Cup. Bernardi's South Australian crew placed 2nd. That year Bernardi became an Australian national representative when he was selected in the three seat of the coxless four which competed at the 1989 World Rowing Championships in Bled (in what was then Yugoslavia and is now the Republic of Slovenia), and placed tenth. Bernardi suffered a back injury later that same year which effectively ended his rowing career.
Elections to the Senate
In March 2006, South Australian Senator Robert Hill resigned from the Senate to become Ambassador to the United Nations, and Bernardi was selected by the Liberal Party to fill the vacancy, with his senate term officially commencing on 4 May 2006. 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 to be held in late 2007. He was pre-selected ahead of Simon Birmingham, while Senator Grant Chapman came in third. At the election, Bernardi was elected to a full six-year term. At the 2013 federal election, he was again given the first place on the Liberal ticket and was re-elected; and, following a double dissolution of Parliament, at the 2016 federal election he was re-elected from the second place on the Liberal ticket.
Opposition under Brendan Nelson: 2007–2008
In December 2007, Bernardi was appointed the federal Coalition's Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Families and Community Services. On 19 March 2008, Bernardi was named in a story published in The Australian newspaper 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 published, 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."
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. The Senate supported the motion. In June 2008, Bernardi stated his personal view on onlineopinion.com.au regarding proposed reform relating to same-sex relationships. He states that "Same-sex relationships are not the same as marital relationships and to treat them the same is to suspend common sense". 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.
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 $5,000 "baby bonus". The Government stated that the bonus was not available for aborted pregnancies and committed to following up any occurrences of this.
Opposition under Malcolm Turnbull: 2008–2009
In September 2008, new Federal Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull appointed Bernardi the Coalition Spokesman for Disabilities, Carers and the Voluntary Sector. Bernardi caused a stir in October 2008 with a speech to the Senate against the Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws-Superannuation) Bill 2008, which was supported by the Liberal Party. The bill led to discontent within the Party's conservative faction, of which Bernardi is a key figure. Turnbull was "unhappy that Party authority was being challenged" by Bernardi. 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". 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.
Bernardi was removed from the Shadow Ministry by Turnbull in February 2009 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.
Opposition under Tony Abbott: 2009–2013
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, and in August 2012 was appointed 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.
Abbott and Turnbull Governments: 2013–2017
In January 2014, Prime Minister Tony Abbott 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, 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.
In September 2016, Bernardi spoke in favour of the repeal of section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, which prohibits speech that is reasonably likely to "offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate on the basis of race, colour or national or ethnic origin". In December 2016 Bernardi got into a public spat with former Prime Minister Tony Abbott over reports that Bernardi may start his own party.
Departure from the Liberal Party
On 7 February 2017, Bernardi announced that he would be leaving the Liberal Party to form his own party, the Australian Conservatives. His move was made seven months into his six-year term in the Senate, following his election at the July 2016 election.
In September 2016 it was reported that Bernardi in 2009 set up an entity called the Conservative Leadership Foundation, "a fundraising entity that inhabits a grey area in the political donations system and permits gifts from foreign donors." and that "it has never made a disclosure to the Australian Electoral Commission as an associated entity, nor disclosed any political expenditure." In July 2016, Bernardi also formed the Australian Conservatives movement which "will unite conservatives", and which by August claims 50,000 members.
Political views and controversies
On 21 April 2007, Bernardi published an essay questioning whether global warming was caused by human activities. Then-environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull and other Liberal parliamentarians promptly distanced themselves from his views.
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."
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. 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. The opposition treasury spokesman, Joe Hockey, said in response "Neither Cory Bernardi nor the Coalition will be facilitating this visit."
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.
In September 2016, Cory Bernardi proposed the Turnbull government take up a modified version of the immigration policy of One Nation, aiming to mollify people fearing Muslim immigration as he felt soft immigration policies were to blame for a fall in government support.
Publicly funded broadcasting
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, Bernardi 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.
In February 2016, Labor Opposition Leader Bill Shorten labelled Bernardi a "homophobe". In March, student protesters vandalised Bernardi's Adelaide office and wrote slogans such as "stop homophobia", after Bernardi raised concerns about the content of the Safe Schools Program. Bernardi claimed the program was indoctrinating minors.
- "Senator Cory Bernardi". aph.gov.au. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
- "Catholics, world leaders welcome church's new Pope Francis". news.com.au. 14 March 2013. Retrieved 16 January 2015.
- The Conservative Revolution. Ballarat: Connor Court Press. 2013.
- Torrisi, Luke (12 January 2014). "First 'Shots Fired' in Australia’s Culture War, 2014". SydneyTrads.
- Cullen, Simon. (19 September 2012) Bernardi resigns after bestiality comment, abc.net.au; retrieved 19 September 2012.
- Cory Bernardi, 'Cool heads needed on global warming', 20 April 2007, available online.
- Harrison, Dan. "Liberal senator Cory Bernardi under more fire from within party". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2017-01-14.
- Bernardi, Cory (6 May 2010). "For Australia's sake, we need to ban the burqa". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 6 May 2010.
- Harrison, Dan (7 January 2014). "Tony Abbott keeps distance from Cory Bernardi abortion comments". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Archived from the original on 24 June 2014. Retrieved 14 January 2017.
- "Subscribe to The Advertiser". www.adelaidenow.com.au. Retrieved 2017-01-14.
- Harrison, Dan. "Cory Bernardi calls for debate on abortion in controversial new book". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2017-01-14.
- "Cory Bernardi quits the Liberal Party to establish Australian Conservatives". ABC News. 7 February 2017.
- "There is something clearly wrong with our current migration system", australianconservative.com; accessed 8 December 2014.
- Neighbour, Sally (December 2011). "All About Cory". The Monthly.
- Timothy J. Lynch (9 December 2011). "In Conversation: Senator Cory Bernardi". The Conversation. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
- Excellence: the Australian Institute of Sport. Canberra: Australian sports Commission. 2002. p. 103. ISBN 1-74013-060-X.
- "Panellist Cory Bernardi". Q&A. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 6 January 2014.
- "1987 Interstate Championships – Australian Rowing History". rowinghistory-aus.info. Retrieved 17 September 2016.
- History of Mercantile Rowing Club, rowinghistory-aus.info; accessed 8 December 2014.
- "1989 Interstate Championships – Australian Rowing History". rowinghistory-aus.info. Retrieved 17 September 2016.
- Bernardi performance in the 1989 World Rowing Championships, rowinghistory-aus.info; accessed 8 December 2014.
- Parliament of Australia (4 May 2006). "VACANCY IN THE REPRESENTATION OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA—CHOICE OF CORY BERNARDI". Parlinfo Web. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
- Karvelas, Patricia (19 March 2008). "Cash-hiding plan linked to Lib MP". The Australian. Retrieved 18 March 2008.
- "Statement Relating to Article In 'The Australian'". Retrieved 22 August 2008.
- Justin Vallejo (21 March 2008). "Ramsay's f-words called foul". Daily Telegraph.
- "Don’t confuse marriage with discrimination – On Line Opinion – 24/6/2008". onlineopinion.com.au. Retrieved 17 September 2016.
- Monkeying Around with Human Rights, abc.net.au; accessed 8 December 2014.
- "Loophole allows baby bonus for late abortions", news.com.au; accessed 8 December 2014.
- "Media Release". Retrieved 22 August 2008.
- "Turnbull calls for unity on gay laws", smh.com.au; accessed 8 December 2014.
- Senate Hansard, aph.gov.au; accessed 8 December 2014.
- "Social values prove to be Turnbull's first test", Sydney Morning Herald, 20 October 2008.
- "Turnbull sacks SA Senator Bernardi". abc.net.au. 19 February 2009. Retrieved 17 September 2016.
- "Turnbull sacks frontbencher for turning on Pyne", Sydney Morning Herald, 19 February 2009.
- "Turnbull sacks frontbencher over blog", Canberra Times, 20 February 2009.
- Harrison, Dan (7 January 2014). "Senator Cory Bernardi's call for new abortion debate sidestepped by PM". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
- Porter, Andrew. "The real danger in Cory Bernardi's comments". The Drum. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
- The Age, by James Massola, 30 August 2016: 'This is not about challenging the PM': Cory Bernardi leads 18C push
- The Age, by Stephanie Peatling, 4 September 2016: Cory Bernardi says he won't be dissuaded on attempts to rewrite section of Racial Discrimination Act
- "Abbott and Bernardi trade barbs over conservative unrest". abc.net.au. 30 December 2016.
- "Turnbull frontbenchers brush off rebel backbenchers' threats". abc.net.au. 22 December 2016.
- "Cory Bernardi Rogue Senator defects to go it all alone". Daily Telegraph. 7 February 2017. Retrieved 7 February 2017.
- "Senate: First preferences by candidate". Australian Electoral Commission. 5 August 2016. Retrieved 7 February 2017.
- The Age, Gina McColl, 5 September 2016: Sam Dastyari's accuser Cory Bernardi has his own questionable fundraising body
- The Age, Deborah Snow, 13 August 2016: Senator Cory Bernardi's conservative movement shares $1 million headquarters
- McIlroy, Tom (2 August 2016). "Cory Bernardi's Australian Conservatives group signs up 50,000 people online". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 18 September 2016.
- Cory Bernardi sacked from Coalition's junior shadow ministry, Telegraph. 19 February 2009
- Anderson, Laura; Starick, Paul (23 April 2007). "Libs snub Bernardi climate call". The Advertiser. Retrieved 8 December 2014.
- Harvey, Michael, Lewis, Steve (19 February 2011). "Islam's the problems, not Muslims, says Senator Cory Bernardi". Herald Sun. Retrieved 21 April 2012.
- Welch, Dylan (8 September 2011). "Senator strikes sour note with demand for Muslim denunciation". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 21 April 2012.
- "Abbott rejects MP's Islam remark". The Age. Melbourne. 19 February 2011.
- "Islam's the problems, not Muslims, says Senator Cory Bernardi", adelaidenow.com.au; 19 February 2011.
- Liberal death threat via email, Daily Telegraph, 19 February 2011.
- Sally Neighbour (December 2011). "All About Cory – Cory Bernardi, Conservative Warrior". The Monthly. Retrieved 7 June 2013.
- "Anti-Islam campaigner coming to Australia". Lateline. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 13 February 2013. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
- Savva, Niki. "Gillard is Coalition's preferred PM". The Australian. Retrieved 8 December 2014.
- "Senator strikes sour note with demand for Muslim denunciation". The Sydney Morning Herald. 8 September 2011. Retrieved 8 December 2014.
- "Libs under fire for Dutch 'extremist'", adelaidenow.com.au; accessed 8 December 2014.
- Hunter, Fergus (27 September 2016). "Cory Bernardi urges government to adopt 'delicate, nuanced' versions of One Nation policy". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 27 September 2016.
- Kelly, Fran. "Cory Bernardi: ABC 'cannibalising' commercial online news". Radio National. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 6 January 2014.
- "Cory Bernardi". abc.net.au. 16 October 2015. Retrieved 17 September 2016.
- QandA – Monday 5 October, 2015; ABC TV
- Hunter, Fergus (24 February 2016). "'At least I'm not a homophobe': Bill Shorten in tense press conference exchange with Cory Bernardi". smh.com.au. Retrieved 17 September 2016.
- Shepherd, Tory (18 March 2016). "Protesters trash Cory Bernardi’s Adelaide office". The Advertiser. Retrieved 19 March 2016.
- "Senator Cory Bernardi’s office trashed by protesters". News Ltd. 18 March 2016. Retrieved 19 March 2016.