Bernardi to register new party in Queensland

Cory Bernardi starts process to register Australian Conservatives in Queensland

Senator Cory Bernardi is visiting Queensland and hopes his Australian Conservatives party can be registered in the Sunshine State before the next state election. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Senator Cory Bernardi is visiting Queensland and hopes his Australian Conservatives party can be registered in the Sunshine State before the next state election. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen


Senator Cory Bernardi says he has completed the paperwork to register the Australian Conservatives in Queensland.


Queensland looks likely to have another conservative force contesting the next state election.

While on a tour of the state, Senator Cory Bernardi told Fairfax Media on Monday his Australian Conservatives party had completed the paperwork to register in Queensland, and intended to register in every state.

"It's now going to be a matter of whether we meet the timeline, determined by the electoral commission," he said.

"They take about six to eight weeks to formally go through the party registration process and so it's up to the state government about when they call the election.

"But certainly we're in there with a shot."

Senator Bernardi said he hoped the process to register would be completed before the next state election.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk could call an election at any time between now and May 2018, but it is widely anticipated to be held in November, which should leave enough time for the Australian Conservatives' registration to be completed.

The party has to provide the Electoral Commission of Queensland with a list of members, which it then contacts one-by-one until they confirm the required 500 members.

Senator Bernardi said the party had "thousands" of members in Queensland and had no worries about meeting the requirements. Membership costs $25. 

Senator Bernardi will spend this week touring Queensland with a series of sold-out events to be held in Toowoomba, Slacks Creek, Maroochydore, Gold Coast and Townsville.

Senator Bernardi said the outcome of the events would determine the "political involvement" in Queensland at the next state election.

The South Australian Senator announced he was leaving the Liberal Party in February, to set up his own right-wing party, which now has four members of Parliament.

Parts of Queensland could be considered One Nation heartland and some political commentators believe Pauline Hanson's party could score six to 12 seats in the next Queensland Parliament.

Asked how he thought his party would fare against One Nation in Queensland, Senator Bernardi said he did not know. 

"We will get certainly over the next few days a sense from the people on the ground about what our prospects are," he said.

"And that's all going to feed into our decision-making process about whether we run and if we do in what seats and whether we're better off targeting one or two particular areas or running a campaign more broadly."

Sitting MP Steve Dickson defected from the LNP to One Nation in January.

But Senator Bernardi said he had "no expectation" any current sitting LNP MPs would defect to his new conservative brand.

"The reason I say that is because I will not pressure anyone into joining the Australian Conservatives," he said.

"Politics as usual is failing the people, that's why there are so many turning off the major parties."

Senator Bernardi said he believed Queensland was inherently conservative "and is looking for a credible and principled conservative voice".

He said his party had gone from zero to more than 12,000 members in just five months.

"There seems to be an appetite to see what we're doing, an appetite to a change to politics as usual," he said.

Senator Bernardi would not be drawn on his opinion on the performance of Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls or the Queensland LNP.

"Ultimately it's for the Queensland people to judge," he said.

On Monday, Senator Bernardi announced the party had formally registered as a political party in Victoria.

He plans to return to Queensland "many more times" over the coming months.

This story first appeared on Brisbane Times. 


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