Cory Bernardi is deregistering his political party the Australian Conservatives, adding to speculation the South Australian senator could deliver Scott Morrison an extra vote by returning to the Liberal fold.
Senator Bernardi this week said he was open to the idea of returning to the Liberal party, which he left in February 2017 to begin his own.
“The inescapable conclusion from our lack of political success, our financial position and the re-election of a Morrison-led government is that the rationale for the creation of the Australian Conservatives is no longer valid,” he said in a statement on Thursday, June 20.
“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.”
“I will shortly begin the process of formally deregistering the Australian Conservatives,” Bernardi said, citing money and a lack of success at the recent election. https://t.co/0sFg39COqE
— 10 News First (@10NewsFirst) June 20, 2019
Senator Bernardi said his supporters “breathed a sigh of relief” when Morrison took over the top job.
“Malcolm Turnbull was leading a Labor-lite coalition into political oblivion,” he said. “As they abandoned their supporter base in pursuit of green-left policies, major party politics became an echo chamber rather than a battle of ideas.”
He has credited Morrison—a “man of faith and values”—for returning the party back to its traditional policies, while being heartened the government said immigration and taxes were too high.
Senator Bernardi said his “steady and sensible” approach during the election campaign didn’t gain traction, but that he did not want to gain attention for deliberately courting controversy.
#BREAKING: Former Liberal senator Cory Bernardi is deregistering his political party the Australian Conservatives, after being “disappointed” by its performance at the federal election. #9Newshttps://t.co/y2eESdN5aH
— Nine News Australia (@9NewsAUS) June 20, 2019
“Some solace can be found in the fact we never compromised on our principles in pursuit of political sugar hits,” he said.
The South Australian cleared his Twitter feed on Thursday and published a lengthy statement to the party’s website.
A fortnight ago the party said it was moving offices before the end of the month, promoting a 50-percent-off sale on merchandise.
Morrison will have a guaranteed 36 votes in the upper house if Senator Bernardi rejoins the Liberals, meaning he will only need the support of three crossbenchers to pass legislation.
The Australian Conservatives’ remaining resources will be used to finalise its existing financial obligations before June 30.
By Rebecca Gredley