Where to now Saint Bernardi?

By February 12, 2017Australian Politics

Cory Bernardi has spat the dummy and dropped out of the Liberal Party. It has been suggested in various fora that he should join One Notion, thereby increasing the average IQ of both parties.

Cory Bernardi was selected in March 2006 to fill a Senate vacancy after Senator Robert Hill was given a job-for-the-boys post as Australian Ambassador to the UN. Bernardi was subsequently elected to a full 6-year term as senator for South Australia in the 2007 Federal election. In that election he was first on the Liberal’s senate ticket. By the time of the double dissolution election of 2016 he had made himself unpopular enough in South Australia and federally to be dropped to second on the senate ticket, losing out to the less hare-brained Simon Birmingham.

Bernardi is one of the religious right wing nut jobs in the Liberal Party. He maintains that ‘non-traditional’ families lead to criminality among boys and promiscuity among girls, that the secular nature of our nation is the cause of our country losing its way, that Christianity is under siege from both the Greens and Islam, and that there is a rampant “death industry” pushing abortion as a form of birth control. Bernardi’s perception of an assault by the Greens on Christianity is presumably because Greens Senator Richard Di Natale moved a motion to stop opening each parliamentary day with the Lord’s Prayer.

In March 2008, Bernardi introduced a motion calling for a Senate enquiry into swearing on television and the effectiveness of the code of practice after a television show was broadcast at 8:30 pm containing the work ‘fuck’ eighty times in 40 minutes. The Senate supported the motion.

In June 2008, Bernardi, on onlineopinion.com.au, stated that same-sex relationships are not the same as marital relationships and to treat them the same is to suspend common sense. In October 2008, he also gave a speech in the Senate protesting against same-sex relationships, despite the Same-Sex Relationships [Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws-Superannuation] Bill 2008 being supported by his Party under Turnbull’s leadership of the opposition. As part of his speech, he said that society should not “throw open the doors and welcome into the fold those whose relationships are uncharacteristic of the most basic elements of a marital union”.

Bernardi was removed from the Shadow Ministry by Malcolm Turnbull (then opposition leader) after reportedly making unsubstantiated claims regarding a fellow Liberal MP in his weekly blog. Recalling an encounter with the Liberal MP at the Royal Adelaide Golf Club about 14 years before, he wrote:

“In response to my question of why he joined the Liberal Party, the MP blithely responded ‘I live in a Liberal seat so I had to be a member of the Liberal Party to get into Parliament. If I lived in a Labor seat I would have joined the Labor Party’. Frankly I was aghast at this response. Where was the conviction, the beliefs, the values that I believe should motivate our political leaders? Several follow up questions disclosed that the only motivation for his own political involvement was for him to become Prime Minister.”

The MP involved was thought to be Christopher Pyne, who denied the allegations as “preposterous”. Surely Christopher Pyne could not be the person concerned, as he must realise that, if not deluded, he has Buckley’s chance of ever becoming Prime Minister.

When Turnbull was deposed as leader of the opposition by Abbott in 2009, Bernardi was appointed to a couple of shadow parliamentary secretary roles, one as Abbott’s sidekick, and the other for Infrastructure and Population. He was also made deputy manager of Opposition Business in the Senate. In September, 2012, Bernardi resigned from his position as parliamentary secretary after he stated that permitting same-sex marriage would be the thin end of the wedge and “The next step, quite frankly, is having three people or four people that love each other being able to enter into a permanent union endorsed by society – or any other type of relationship,” and “There are even some creepy people out there… [who] say it is OK to have consensual sexual relations between humans and animals.” How Bernardi thinks that sex between humans and animals could be consensual is difficult to understand, given animals’ inability with human language. Perhaps he thinks he is Dr Dolittle.

Not being able to help himself, Bernardi, in January 2014, called for a new debate on abortion, and for more flexible industrial relations laws. In November of the same year, he created controversy when he stated during a senate inquiry that workers at Women’s House Shelta, Queensland’s oldest women’s domestic violence refuge, were not experts on domestic violence, and that there are times when it is appropriate for a man to put his partner in a headlock. This was just another nail in the coffin of Bernardi’s hopes for leadership in the Liberal Party as they seem to be not right wing enough for him.

After being dropped to second on the Senate ticket, he probably saw the writing on the wall, and like most modern politicians, being mainly driven by self-interest, and giving no thought whatsoever to those who elected him, or which party’s funds he spent on his election, Bernardi jumped ship. He had to do it early to give himself enough time to drum up some sort of support before he had to face his next election.

Bernardi’s first foray into the support garnering game didn’t go that well with the Q Society having speakers who were even wackier than Bernardi. These included ‘circus act’ Ross Cameron and cartoonist Larry Pickering, with the latter stating that ‘not all Muslims are bad, because some do chuck pillow-biters of buildings’. This was even too extreme for Bernardi, who despite having problems with Islam and homosexuality, hasn’t quite sunk to applauding murder. However, there is still time.

Where will Saint Bernardi go next? Will it be Family First? The Liberal Democratic Party? The Australian Christians? The Australian Liberty Alliance? The Christian Democratic Party? Love Australia or Leave? The Rise Up Australia Party? There are many options, but which one will be the best party from which Cory and his Australian Conservatives can steal members? Only time will tell. One thing of which you can be sure, is that anyone who joins the Australian Conservatives will not be conservative, they will be regressive. Just like Cory.







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