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Started australian conservatives two and a half years ago. Why have you now decided to to dissolve it well when circumstances change a wise man changes their mind and when started the australian conservatives two and a half years ago. We were an entirely different political paradigm.
I left the party that i been a member of for over thirty years because malcolm turnbull was dragging them in a direction. Which was really unhealthy. They were a pale imitation of sort of labor and the greens and politics had become an echo chamber.
And my concern then was that it would give rise to demands for an alternative voting vehicle and some of them wouldnt be very healthy so i formed the australian conservatives to help drag the liberals back to where i think they should have been to give conservative voices. A legitimate outing and a credible and principled alternative and the reality is the moment. Scott morrison.
Became prime minister our numbers internally and our membership started to change and they expressed confidence in the liberal party. Once again and we persevered thinking that after the election things might be different. But the reality is scott morrison has reclaimed the ground which we were seeking to stake as our own.
Im happy about that but it also means weve been mugged by the political reality that we had dont have the electoral support. We need to continue your membership skyrocket skyrocketed at one. Point when malcolm turnbull was prime.
Minister i think to 22000. How much did it drop by when scott morrison took over as leader roughly the numbers are about 22000. Was a peak and.
Yesterday when i emailed our members our financial. Members it was about 8000. So its still a substantive political organisation when it comes to minor parties.
But ultimately it doesnt translate at the ballot box. We were no longer extreme enough for for some of the unhappy voters. We werent nice enough for those who are motivated by single issues and to be frank as a conservative alternative to the liberals that ground was reclaimed by scott morrison.
Who won an extraordinary election. I have to say i i certainly didnt expect the coalition to win that election. I dont know too many others that did but full marks to them.
And i want to back them in and make them as good a government as they possibly can be at the election. Your support in some states was lower than fraser annings was this disheartening for you given at the time and the sweat that youd put into your party over the past couple of years theres an understatement. But its not just about disheartening for me.
It was disheartening for our candidates who were fantastic. They were credible and principled and work very hard our myriad of volunteers. The money that went into it we really strove to run a professional political outfit and to be beaten by you know fraser anning and his party.
We were beaten by the stoners as i call them the hemp party. The the vegans you know the animal justice people they beat us too and you know the the thousands of emails. Ive received since the election.
So many of them contained this rhetoric that im a member of your party. Cory i had to vote for the coalition first because i didnt want bill shorten again in and then we voted for you and that was disheartening too because we were running only in the senate and it just said to me that our message was lost and no matter how hard we worked at it it wasnt going to capture those who were seeking the shrill histrionics and the the regular conservative voter was more attracted back to the coalition will you rejoin the liberal party. Now i havent thought about that i know theres been media speculation and theres been no discussion and myself well in actual fact the last you know four weeks up i only been focused about the future of the party.
My future and what i do well start to now the i guess feature into my consideration with my family and others. But i can tell you i havent had a conversation with the south australian division of the liberal party or anything else what what im motivated to do is to pursue three policy goals. If i can do that while im still in politics thatd be great.
But well see how we go and those policy. Goals are a nuclear energy and freedom of speech. There two of them firstly.
The epb c. Act is up for a review 20 year review this year and thats the act that basically prohibits nuclear power in any way shape or form in this country and i think thats crazy considering what the rest of the world is doing and the demands for emissions for power. If that motivates people so id like to play.
A part in that i do think that our freedoms are under assault by successive governments and last parliament. I introduced a protected freedoms act. Which basically said governments have to justify in every piece of legislation.
Why they are taking away or encroaching upon the freedoms that weve traditionally enjoyed and thirdly. Its a bit of an issue. But at south australian is some of our commercial fishers lost a bit of their quota because of government decisions.
And there was no recompense for that night. I just think thats like taking away. A property right and brings it uncertainty into an industry thats very important to my state.
So id like to pursue that see if we can rectify. It and and protect the livelihoods of the commercial fishermen in my great state. But also around the country in terms of your political future.
Though why wouldnt you return to the liberals. It was your home as he said for 30 odd years and your worst enemies in the party of gone malcolm turnbulls gone. Julie bishops gone at christopher pyne long long term political rival has gone why wouldnt you rejoin this party.
Oh sherry. Youre under estimating the number of enemies. Ive made there over the years of it you know legions of them it may be an option.
I dont know. But its its you know not my priority. I dont really want to immerse myself in party politics.
I want to immerse myself in the policy outcomes that i think are important but i also want to support the coalition as much as i can they want an extraordinary victory. I think the choice they put towards the australian people for the australian people was so opposed to the socialists nonsense from the labour party that they deserve every element of support theres so much of my support when parliament returns. Though the week after next in what capacity will you sit in the same well ill either be ill probably be an independent.
But that may change of course. If if you know people want to end engage in conversations with me. But you know ultimately i dont im not shopping around for a political vehicle thats thats you know yesterdays stuff for me i really will go back there and ill take some time to contemplate how best i can be effective and ill do that in consultation with people that i respect that i admire and make the best interests of the country and it may be sharing.
Im not pre empting this. But it may be that the circumstances are it might be best for me to leave parliament in the next six months or something like that because you know someone else might come in with fresher ideas. Im really unresolved them until.
I will turn away from today youre considering quitting politics. I you know i think ultimately you know after ill be 14 years in the parliament by june of next year. And i will be 50.
I think thats a pretty good time to to consider what you want to what contribution or might want to make going forward. But as i said ive got these three policy areas. Id like to pursue.
I want to be constructive and work with the government whether thats as part of the government or as an independent. Ill do whatever i think is in the best interests of the country. Some have suggested that theres a case for you joining the liberal party as the new conservative figurehead.
If you like now that tony abbott has left parliament is this something that has been put to you ill say thats very kind i havent had that discussion with anybody ive missed the first ive heard about it but in the end. Ive tried to be as straight with people as i can right through my political career. Ive tried to speak clearly not get caught in the sophistry of politics and to actually do what i think is the right thing now sometimes.
Its a very painful experience. Its painful for your friends. Its painful for your family.
Its painful for you personally. But doing the right thing is important to me and thats why i dont never want to act in haste. You know youve got to contemplate the consequences of everything you do and im heartened by the people that have reached out.
And said. You know thank you for the role youve played and whatever that is the animals of history will judge. It one way or another.
Just lastly did you have fundraising left over from your party. And and what happens to it yeah. There is some funds that are still there but theyre being used at the moment to conclude our obligations weve got some audit obligations.
Some accounting some outstanding bills and rents and things like that and then at the end of that process. I think itll probably be july. When its wrapped up whatever surplus funds are there are under the constitution.
So theyre not for profit should go to a like mind and organization. It doesnt have to be a political organization. But one that shares the aims and goals so well see what the wash up is there.
But its not going to be a monumental amount of money you know probably wouldnt pay for labours unhappy you know lost party on election eve cory bernardi. Thank you so much for your time this afternoon have a wonderful weekend. Thank you sharon you too .
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