Cory Bernardi to disband Australian Conservatives


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Senator Cory Bernardi will wind up his Australian Conservatives party, after its abysmal showing at the election.

Bernardi, who defected from the Liberals and formed the party in 2017, said on Thursday: “The inescapable conclusion from our lack of political success, our financial position and the re-election of a Morrison-led government is that the rationale for the creation of the Australian Conservatives is no longer valid.

“Accordingly, I will shortly begin the process of formally deregistering the Australian Conservatives as a political party.”




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There has been speculation that the South Australian senator – who is making it clear he wants to do all he can to help the Morrison government – may seek to rejoin the Liberals.

He told The Conversation: “I have not thought about it. My focus has been on the future of the [Australian Conservatives] party and will now consider what role I may or may not play in the next parliament”.

In his statement he said, “the Morrison government victory and policy agenda suggests we are well on the way to restoring common sense in the Australian parliament. That is all we, as Australian Conservatives, have ever sought to do.”

The Australian Conservatives attracted some disillusioned Liberal supporters while Malcolm Turnbull was prime minister.

The party swallowed the small conservative party Family First, which briefly gave it two South Australian state parliamentarians. It also briefly had representation in the Victorian parliament, with the defection to it of a Democratic Labour Party upper house member.




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Bernardi split is symptomatic of a fractured political system, here and abroad


Bernardi said times were “very different” when he launched his party in early 2017.

“Malcolm Turnbull was leading a Labor-lite Coalition into political oblivion. As they abandoned their supporter base in pursuit of green-left policies, major party politics became an echo chamber rather than a battle of ideas.

“The fact that over 22,000 people formally joined the Australian Conservatives in our first year demonstrated just how badly the Coalition were haemorrhaging supporters who wanted their enduring values and traditional principles upheld.

“However, the decision to make Scott Morrison prime minister truly changed the political climate and our political fortunes.

“Rather than punish the Coalition for another new leader, many Conservatives breathed a sigh of relief that a man of faith and values was leading the Liberals back to their traditional policy platform.”




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Bernardi should have resigned his Senate seat: here’s why


Bernardi said that at the election the party polled “a tiny fraction of the votes” required for success.

“We can make all the excuses in the world for the result but it is clear that many of our potential voters returned to supporting the Coalition when Malcolm Turnbull was replaced by Scott Morrison.

“Although we made it clear in the lead-up to the campaign that we were only running in the Senate so as not to be the catalyst for a change of government, our message didn’t get through.”

He said that while he had been urged to “deliberately court controversy” during the election to win attention, this “would have undermined the very premise of what we offered to the Australian people – a credible and principled alternative to the political fringe.

“Unfortunately steady and sensible didn’t work and it was frustrating that some single interest parties gained more votes than we did.”The Conversation

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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LAOS: POLICE DESTROY CHURCH BUILDING IN VILLAGE


Destruction carried out while Christians attend compulsory village meeting.

WELLINGTON, New Zealand, March 30 (Compass Direct News) – Police in Borikhamxay province, Laos, on March 19 destroyed a church building in Nonsomboon village while Christian residents attended a meeting called by district officials.

A member of the provincial religious affairs department, identified only as Bounlerm, has since claimed that police destroyed the worship facility because it was built without official approval.

Tension between the Christians and local authorities escalated last year when officials ordered at least 40 Christian families living in Ban Mai village to relocate some 20 kilometers (12 miles) to Nonsomboon for “administrative reasons,” according to advocacy group Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom (HRWLRF). Local sources said the forced relocation to Nonsomboon village was an effort to control the activities of Christians in Ban Mai who were sharing their faith with other people in the district.

Previously authorities had evicted Christians from several other villages in the district and relocated them to Ban Mai village, HRWLRF reported. Families were expected to cover their own relocation expenses, including the cost of rebuilding their homes and re-establishing their livelihoods.

Initially residents refused to relocate a second time, largely because officials would not grant permission to move their existing church building or to erect a new structure in Nonsomboon. Eventually they were forced to move to Nonsomboon under duress.

Lacking worship facilities, the villagers on Dec. 10, 2008 erected a simple church building. On Dec. 26, village police removed the cross from the building, summoned four key church leaders to a meeting at the Burikan district office and subsequently detained them for building a church without government approval.

HRWLRF identified the four only as pastor Bounlard, assistant pastor Khampeuy, church elder Khampon and men’s ministry leader Jer. When the wives of the four men brought food to them during their detention, officials refused to allow them to see their husbands.

In a meeting on Dec. 27 between provincial religious affairs officials and church leaders, officials said police had arrested the Christians because they refused to tear down the church building. A senior religious affairs official identified only as Booppa, however, agreed to release the Christians on Dec. 29.

The Christians of Nonsomboon then applied for permission to hold a Christmas service in their church facility on Jan. 7 and invited religious affairs official Bounlerm to attend. When permission failed to arrive in time, they conducted the service regardless, with Bounlerm and other district officials attending as honorary guests.

During the service, district and village level police officers charged into the building and ordered church members to cease worshiping. Bounlerm encouraged the congregation to follow orders from the local officials.

Police officers then drafted a document ordering church members to abandon the Christmas celebration and demanded that the congregation sign it. When they refused, the police insisted that they disband the meeting immediately. After leaving the building, the congregation traveled to nearby Burikan town and set up a tent in an open field next to a government office in order to complete the Christmas service, as there were no church facilities in Burikan.

A campaign of intimidation followed, according to HRWLRF, culminating in the destruction of the church building by village police on March 19. At press time, no information was available on the content of the meeting called by district officials on that day.

Report from Compass Direct News