By Philip Coorey 6 July 2016 Australian Financial Review
Disaffected Liberal senator Cory Bernardi is redoubling efforts to unite conservative voices, saying a cross-party lobby group is needed to bolster the Liberal Party’s support base and counter third-party outfit GetUp, which played a pivotal role in targeting right-wing Liberal MPs in the election.
The outspoken South Australian conservative has been the government’s harshest internal critic of its performance on Saturday. He lashed out again on Wednesday, labelling it as a “disaster”.
Senator Bernardi has been warning for two years that the disconnect between the political class and voters has been widening and he has previously threatened to leave the Liberal Party and form a breakaway conservative movement.
On Wednesday, he said the election showed “it’s more important than ever that we unite Australian conservatives, who share many views, regardless of their party affiliation.”
“It’s the next step in making sure our voice is never taken for granted again,” he said
Senator Bernardi told The Australian Financial Review he was not leaving the Liberal Party but wanted to develop a forum to harness support.
Conservative politics lacked an equivalent of Left-wing activist group GetUp, he said.
“I want the party to be as strong as possible under Malcolm Turnbull so we don’t lose the next election,” he said. “If we don’t harness the base we’ve lost we will lose it for good.”
During the campaign, GetUp focused its resources on MPs it labelled as representing “the right-wing of the Coalition who block action on global warming, renewable energy, and funding for schools and hospitals”.
Lost their seats
Four of those targeted lost their seats. They were Jamie Briggs in Mayo, Andrew Nikolic in Bass, Russell Matheson in Macarthur and Louise Markus in Macquarie.
Two others, Peter Dutton and George Christensen survived swings against them.
After losing his seat, an angry Mr Nikolic cited GetUp as a factor.
“This is what dishonesty looks like – GetUp spent $500,000 and imported 90 activists into Bass,” he wrote. “It’s sad to think that this sort of dishonest campaigning approach works in our country!”
Senator Bernardi said a similar umbrella group was needed to promote conservative views. He believes that Mr Turnbull alienated the conservative base with the proposed superannuation changes in the budget, by allowing same-sex marriage to become an election topic, and by publicly disparaging Pauline Hanson during the campaign.
Senator Bernardi said this drove conservatives towards parties such as One Nation.
Fellow conservative Andrew Hastie, who boosted his margin in the Western Australian seat of Canning, was scathing of the Coalition’s campaign, saying it was of little relevance to his constituents.
He told hs local newspaper that he doubted whether lead Coalition pollster Mark Textor had “ever been to Canning and spoken to one of my electors”.
Mr Hastie said he threw away the campaign-supplied talking points when a man “asked me directly why our plan would benefit the future of his five children”.
“I struggled to answer,” Mr Hastie said. “It was at that point I realised that a lot of what we were campaigning on nationally just wasn’t resonating with everyday Australians.
“He couldn’t understand the reason for company tax cuts, he wasn’t earning enough to benefit from the increased tax thresholds and he wasn’t an innovator, he was just an everyday Australian who was trying to pay down his mortgage and look after his children and ensure they had a brighter future.”
Original article here
Australian Conservatives link http://www.conservatives.org.au/