Cory Bernardi Is Folding His Australian Conservatives Party
Liberal deserter Cory Bernardi is shutting down his breakaway Conservatives party, just two years after setting it up.
The South Australian senator, who quit the Coalition in 2017 just months after being elected as the number one candidate on its upper-house ticket, announced on Thursday afternoon that he would fold his party after a disappointing showing at the May election.
"In the four weeks since the election I have been considering the electoral and financial performance of our Party," Bernardi said in a statement online.
"We are all disappointed by our Party performance at the last election. Our candidates, members and volunteers all did their best but as a Party we received a tiny fraction of the votes we needed to be successful."
Bernardi claimed "much of the Australian Conservatives policy agenda was adopted by the Coalition" which, coupled with "our lack of political success" and "our financial position", that the Conservatives' mission "is no longer valid".
"Accordingly, I will shortly begin the process of formally deregistering the Australian Conservatives as a political party," he said.
Bernardi praised Prime Minister Scott Morrison several times, potentially hinting that he may look to rejoin the very party he dumped.
"We can make all the excuses in the world for the result but it is clear that many of our potential voters returned to supporting the Coalition when Malcolm Turnbull was replaced by Scott Morrison," the senator said.
READ MORE: All The Weirdest Auspol Vs Celebrity Fights
Bernardi claimed former PM Turnbull was "leading a Labor-lite Coalition into political oblivion", but said that Morrison had "truly changed the political climate and our political fortunes".
"Rather than punish the Coalition for another new leader, many Conservatives breathed a sigh of relief that a man of faith and values was leading the Liberals back to their traditional policy platform," he said.
When Bernardi quit the Liberal Party in 2017, it was floated that his name recognition could help elect a number of fellow Conservatives members to parliament -- similar to Nick Xenophon and Pauline Hanson had done for their own minor parties. But the showing at the recent federal poll, where the Conservatives failed to muster wide support, forced a rethink.
Bernardi himself was not up for election at the poll, having secured a six-year term in 2016, but he will face voters again in 2022 -- and he may have lost confidence in his maverick act to sway South Australians to cast a ballot for him personally.
Bernardi did not outline what his next plans are, but may look to rejoin the Coalition.
"The Morrison government victory and policy agenda suggests we are well on the way to restoring common sense in the Australian parliament," he said.
He had told Sky News on Tuesday that he was "a traditionalist Liberal", not ruling out trying to rejoin the Coalition.
“I do want to see this government succeed so I’ll think about how best I can do that," Bernardi said.
He remains as one of six minor party senators in the upper house crossbench. The government will need to secure the support of four of those six to pass legislation in the 46th parliament, when it convenes next month for the first time since the election.