National: Liberal’s WA Preference Deal with One Nation Questioned

The Liberal party faced questions as its state division preferenced One Nation ahead of the National party for the Western Australia election. Other state divisions, such as Queensland, are reportedly considering to follow suit.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull defended the party’s decision on Monday, saying One Nation is not “a single issue party or a single personality party”.

“It is a substantial crossbench party in the Senate and it is taking a policy position on a wide range of issues,” Turnbull said.

“It is not a single issue party or a single personality party. We deal with it constructively and respectfully because we respect the fact that each of those One Nation senators has been democratically elected.”

Turnbull also added that preference deals were up to individual Liberal state divisions.

The Liberal party has denounced Pauline Hanson’s party multiple times in the past. In 2001, then Liberal prime minister John Howard said One Nation should be preferenced last in Liberal how-to-vote card due to the party’s racism. Before the 2016 election, Turnbull said, “Pauline Hanson is, as far as we are concerned, not a welcome presence on the Australian political scene. You’ve got to remember she was chucked out of the Liberal Party.”

Leader of the National party and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said Turnbull’s decision was “disappointing”, and warned Turnbull not to stray from the Liberal-National alliance.

“We won’t, but it could easily be that the National Party could stand in every Lower House seat in Perth and preference another party. What would that mean? You’d lose a heap of seats, simple as that,” said Joyce.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has criticised the Liberal party’s preference deal with One Nation, saying it is a desperate move from a party that has condemned Pauline Hanson and her group in the past.

Shorten said he had advised Labor party to preference One Nation last for the next federal election. “It’s clear to me that One Nation’s political agenda clashes with Labor values,” said Shorten in a statement to his party. “Labor believes in an Australia where no-one is limited by their faith, their race, by where they were born or who they love. That’s not the Australia of the One Nation party… In the Labor Party, we choose what we stand for – and it’s not fear, division or the politics of ‘us vs them’.”

National: Cory Bernardi Quits Liberal Party

Senator Cory Bernardi is set to resign from the Liberal Party to form his own “Australian Conservatives” party, despite calls from his colleagues to reconsider.

Bernardi called Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at 7am Tuesday to confirm his resignation, and is expected to make a formal announcement at 12.30pm Tuesday.

“The point that Cory needs to reflect on is he is in the Parliament by virtue of the endorsement of the South Australian Liberal Party,” the Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg told Q&A on Monday. “He’s always been treated courteously within the Liberal Party and our party resembles that broad church of views.”

Liberal MP Craig Kelly said Bernadi should “have maybe one last think… You can do a lot more inside the Liberal party, working for, arguing those things that you believe in, than actually outside the tent.”

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton told ABC Radio that Bernardi’s resignation was a “betrayal of Liberal party values… We can most effectively defeat the Labor party at the next election if we’re united and we stick together as a party.”

Bernardi reportedly decided to form his own party after watching the anti-establishment trend in the US and Britain, as well as consulting with former prime minister Tony Abbott.