Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Australian federal senator Cory Bernardi has resigned from the Australian Liberal Party, citing differences with the party leadership, including climate policy (Bernardi is a skeptic). This resignation will increase the discomfort of the beleaguered Turnbull government.
Cory Bernardi quits the Liberal Party to establish Australian Conservatives
South Australian senator Cory Bernardi has officially quit the Liberal Party to establish his own party, using a scathing speech to criticise colleagues for “failing the people of Australia”.
Senator Bernardi says he was reluctant and relieved to the leave the party
He says it’s time for a “better way, for a conservative way”
The senator informed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of his decision to defect shortly before a church service this morning, which marked the start of the parliamentary year.
In a speech to colleagues, Senator Bernardi said he was reluctant and relieved to leave the party, saying the decision had “weighed heavily on his heart”.
“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,” he said.
Senator Bernardi said his calls to restore faith in the political system had been ignored by some of his Liberal Party colleagues.
“It really is time for a better way — for a conservative way,” he said.
Senator Bernardi said his new party, the Australian Conservatives, would focus on limiting the size of government and provide hope to “those who despair at the current state of Australian politics”.
The 47-year-old senator has been a controversial figure in the Liberal Party and is known for his inflammatory remarks on gay rights, Islam and climate change.
He said the Government’s position on energy and climate change was one reason behind his decision to leave the party.
Bernardi’s resignation is the latest rumble of discontent over Aussie Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s efforts to soften the Australian Liberal Party’s opposition to carbon pricing, immigration, and other conservative party policies.
Malcolm Turnbull toppled popular conservative Tony Abbott in a party room putsch in 2015, over Abbott’s poor poll numbers, but Turnbull himself is now facing discontent from colleagues who are worried about Turnbull’s poor poll numbers, and the gushing haemorrhage of Liberal Party voter defections to the staunchly climate skeptic One Nation party.
Update (EW): Removed quote marks from the word “influenced” in the title.