I was at a dinner recently when I recalled somebody I consider to be an excellent political analysist make the statement that Cory Bernardi leaving the Liberal Party to form just another micro-party was the worst decision he could have possibly made. I believe on this one he is wrong as Cory Bernardi just pulled one of the greatest political coups in a long time. The report Tuesday night that Family First was to merge with Australian Conservatives was confirmed yesterday when Cory Bernardi held a press conference in Adelaide with the two South Australian state Family First MLC’s Dennis Hood and Rob Brokenshire.
It was announced during the press conference that both MLC’s would become members of Australian Conservatives and all Family First state executives voted unanimously in favour of the merger. However as initially reported new Family First Senator Lucy Gichuhi will not be joining and will instead sit as an independent. The merger means that Family First will no longer cease to exist effect immediately.
Nobody should understate the significance of this merger, uniting minor parties on the right has always been talked about, yet often there are too many egos in the various parties with all of them wanting to be the main star. So for Bernardi to be able to convince an entire minor party to come on board with Australian Conservatives is credit to his political deal making skills. Bernardi said so himself that the party was not about egos as it was not named after anybody but was about uniting conservatives.
It is also a smart move for Family First as well, it will ensure their political values continue to be represented to the wider electorate. The party had lost its most high profile member and financial backer in Bob Day so rather than struggle for survival they have done the pragmatic thing and teamed up with a likeminded party.
Australian Conservatives now have some real fire power behind it, add Family First to the previous additions of former Australian Liberty Alliance candidate and head of Halal Choices Kirralee Smith, as well as former federal Liberal MP Luke Simpkins. Bernardi also stated he is looking for more merges with other conservative minor parties, which if his efforts here are anything to go by he is more than capable enough of achieving.
Bernardi is proving to those who ridiculed his decision to leave the Liberal Party that his was a decision not taken lightly and that he had his future political strategy well planned. Conservative Liberal MPs such as Andrew Hastie and Tony Abbott who still urge conservatives to stay in the Liberal Party are looking more unconvincing by the day. Bernardi is not starting just another micro-party but a fully-fledged conservative alternative on the right that those on the left have with the Greens.
The only area of concern is that eventually the growth of Australian Conservatives will lead to a showdown on the right between them and One Nation to decide who will be the main right wing alternative party. One Nation has stated it will not accept any offer to merge with Australian Conservatives. It is not a showdown anyone on the right wants to see as One Nation and Pauline Hanson have done a stellar job at providing many Australians with a real voice on the issues they are concerned about. But Australian Conservatives, for those of a more free market viewpoint, does prove to the better option.
Although the Turnbull government has attempted to turn in a more conservative direction over the past month it is clear that the conservative voters are not convinced, as still nothing will be done about Islamic immigration, the ABC, the Human Rights Commission and other cultural issues. They want the real deal and they are seeing this with the Australian Conservatives. The Liberal Party should use this as a warning and the conservative politicians and party members who still back the Liberals should take a second look at Australian Conservatives.