Judging by the tantrums on the far right of the Coalition, there is a possibility that the party could split, with arch conservatives threatening to take their bat and ball and start their own party. Chief among them is Cory Bernardi.
Although Malcolm Turnbull has sacrificed all his progressive stands on issues like same-sex marriage and climate change in order to lead a party that contains Bernardi and his ilk, the conservative South Australian Senator appears to believe that the Coalition is losing too many conservative votes while Turnbull is a leader.
“It’s a disaster,” Bernardi declared of the Coalition’s election result in an email sent out to his supporters on Wednesday.
“As of writing, over 1.7 million votes were cast for right-of-centre or conservative parties rather than the Liberal Party. From my perspective, that was the Liberal base expressing their unhappiness with past events. Irrespective of the final election result, the clear mission now is to bring people together for the good of the country. That is going to take the formalisation of a broad conservative movement to help change politics and to give common sense a united voice.”
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Bernardi denies that he plans to split from the Liberal National Coalition that just got him re-elected to the Senate, despite Fairfax reporting that he is “in talks“. Bernardi instead suggested that Australia’s conservatives should band together by signing up to his Australian Conservatives website, which is part of his Conservative Leadership Foundation. However, it appears there might be more to it than that.
Twitter user Ellipsii, who has a knack for digging into the website registration history of our political parties, pointed out that a Hobart-based name server used by Eric Abetz, Cory Bernardi and Mathias Cormann is home to Bernardi’s conservative party and conservative websites, which were all registered in May last year. One interesting domain registration, however, didn’t come until two weeks after Turnbull became prime minister in September last year: Australian Majority. The website and logo are ready to go, and the website connects back to Bernardi’s own website.
The name appears to be based on Bernardi’s consistent belief that he speaks for the “majority” of Australians in the right-wing views he espouses. It’s unclear whether Bernardi is actively planning a divorce from the party he pledged a commitment, or whether the senator is just quick to jump on domains every time he has a new idea for a political movement. Aside from Australian Conservatives and Australian Majority, there was also Bernardi’s “CanDo” movement. That appears to no longer exist online.
The administrator of the Australian Majority website, Ryan Hasson, has ties to at least 21 other domains registered by conservatives, including “nopowergrab.com” (which doesn’t appear to be working) and a website called “Keep Tony Honest” which is a campaign calling on the government to repeal section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. It was put together by the Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance, a group described as the “conservative GetUp”. Bernardi attended the group’s launch on the taxpayer’s dime in 2012, along with hard-right Senator Eric Abetz. The group is also behind another libertarian-style website, MyChoice Australia.
Another website hosted by the same company complains about activist groups taking taxpayer money for their campaigns. Abetz this week suggested progressive group GetUp’s charity status should be reviewed, despite the fact that GetUp doesn’t have charity status.