A day after moving to the crossbench, Cory Bernardi is feeling the heat. The media, former Liberal colleagues and South Australian voters all have a view on his defection, especially coming only months after he was re-elected under his then party’s banner.
“People will say what they’re going to say. And I’ve tried to be consistent. I’ve been accused of many things in my time in politics but I’ve looked to be consistent and principled in my approach to policy areas.
"Strangely, many of the people calling me an opportunist are the ones that exploit, you know, a momentary weakness to grasp power or influence, or promotion for themselves,” Bernardi says.
A lot of the people who look favourably on his decision: “are disillusioned Liberal Party sympathisers that said ‘I couldn’t bring myself to vote for the Liberal Party at the last election’ or ‘I wasn’t intending to vote for them but at least now I can give you my vote knowing that our values will be upheld’.”
As interest focuses on whether billionaire businesswoman Gina Rinehart will donate to the Australian Conservatives, Bernardi leaves the door open.
“Gina’s a pal and I never ask my pals for money directly. If people want to offer support or resources to what I’m doing then I wait for them to raise it. And there’s a reason for that. It’s because, you know, friendship is valuable and I’m not prepared to put people in an uncomfortable position if that’s not what they want to do.”
“It’s an enduring friendship. I have great admiration for her [Rinehart]. You know, she’s a very private person and I like my private life to remain private too and we’re friends,” he says.
Music credit: “Albiero A”, by Dlay on the Free Music Archive
Authors: Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra