Former Liberal senator Cory Bernardi will spruik his new Australian Conservatives party in Liberal heartland next month as the Liberal Party splits over whether it is “progressive” or “conservative”.
- Cory Bernardi rejects Malcolm Turnbull’s London speech
- Bernardi to be guest speaker at Roseville Liberal branch meeting next month
- Some local Liberal members already quitting party to join Australian Conservatives
Senator Bernardi says Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s speech in London, where he claimed Liberal Party founder Robert Menzies shunned the conservative label, marks a very clear line in the sand in the battle for conservative voters.
“What it’s sent is a very strong message to conservatives in Australia [that] you’re no longer welcome within the party of Menzies,” he told 7.30.
“And I suspect if Sir Robert Menzies was alive today he would be considering an alternative because the party that he founded no longer seems to represent the interests upon which it was founded.”
‘We don’t know what Malcolm stands for’
Cory Bernardi has rejected Malcolm Turnbull’s claim that Menzies shunned the term “conservative”. (ABC News)
Roseville Golf Club on Sydney’s north shore is natural Liberal Party territory and next month it will be the venue for a local Liberal Party branch meeting, with a special guest speaker — Senator Bernardi.
Liberal Party rules prevent any local members from talking about the meeting, but that does not affect Peter Wells who has just quit the Roseville branch.
“A lot of members who are thinking of leaving will look to Bernardi and he will provide some interesting answers to questions that will be asked,” he told 7.30.
“We know what he stands for. We don’t know what Malcolm stands for.”
Mr Wells, unhappy with a number of government policies such as changes to superannuation and the recently legislated Gonski school funding plan, has decided to join Senator Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives and said he thinks others may be considering it too.
“I think there is a lot of people disenfranchised with the Liberal Party, a lot of members,” he said.
“One of challenges for Liberal Party is a lot of members probably won’t turn up on election day.
“It will inevitably condemn them to oblivion. And some would say maybe that is what has to happen.”
PM’s speech will further alienate conservatives: Bernardi
Mr Wells said the Prime Minister’s speech confirmed for him that he has made the right decision to leave the party.
“I’m at a loss to explain why Malcolm would give that speech, unless he is just trying to further alienate the so-called conservatives from the party,” he said.
“These are people who would probably gravitate to the Liberal Party in the long term but all he is going to do is force them across the bridge to a party which more accurately reflects adequately reflects their values.”
Peter Wells has quit the Liberal Party and will join the Australian Conservatives. (ABC News)
It is likely to be a point Senator Bernardi will make when he address the Roseville faithful and, maybe, not so faithful in a few weeks’ time.
“If a group of people are no longer welcome in their traditional home they need to find another political home, and the Australian Conservatives is designed to provide a voice, a stronger voice, a more united voice for conservatives just like Sir Robert Menzies did back in the 1940s,” Senator Bernardi said.
“He found the disparate voices against socialism and united them into the Liberal party.
“It was essentially an anti-socialist party, it was a conservative party, that’s now been abandoned under the tutelage of Malcolm Turnbull.”