Senator Cory Bernardi
Senator Cory Bernardi PAUL MILLER-AAP

Ballina MP not a fan of Bernardi

TUESDAY 4.45pm: LIFE is complicated but politicians like former Liberal senator Cory Bernardi rely on simplistic slogans promoting hatred, Ballina MP Tamara Smith said.

"We are seeing across the globe a real swing to the politicians who appeal to our basest selves," she told The Northern Star after Mr Bernardi announced his departure from one of Australia's major parties in federal parliament on Tuesday.

"Instilling fear and mistrust and division, the Cory Bernardis, Donald Trumps and Pauline Hansons of the world do not like the complicated details of issues; they use short, simplistic slogans that reduce the world to 'us versus them'.

"There is always an enemy, whether it is the LGBTIQ community or refugees or Hanson's war on Muslims; the extreme views of politicians like Cory Bernardi promote hatred and division and bring out the worst in us."

The NSW Greens MP said "life is complicated" and suggested global right-wing trends would inspire a renewed political push from the left.

"The current neo-fascist trend worldwide that promotes extreme patriotism, closed borders, fear of others and intolerance I think will galvanise the rest of us to stir from our apathy to demand a new way of doing politics - with bi-partisan behaviour; cooperation and acceptance of difference."

Ms Smith said people would respond to the so-called 'extreme right' by "working towards consensus that supports a sustainable, dignified quality of life for all."


TUESDAY 2pm: CORY Bernardi's departure from the national conservative coalition is a betrayal of voter expectations at the 2016 federal election, Liberal politicians have said and Page MP Kevin Hogan agrees.

Liberal Party members and federal politicians Kelly O'Dwyer and Peter Dutton have told press their former colleague, Mr Bernardi, won his senate seat representing the Liberal Party for South Australians.

Mr Bernardi told parliament this morning his decision to quit the coalition in favour of "something new" weighed heavily on his heart but he believed it was "the right thing to do".

"The seas on which we sail become ever more challenging," Mr Bernardi said, emphasising that he wanted to "put principle back into politics".

Principles Mr Bernardi has debated publicly include marriage equality and the controversial safe schools program, aimed at reducing bullying in education.

But Mr Hogan told The Northern Star the two issues were not hot topics raised with him in his northern NSW electorate and voter needs went beyond discussions of conservative values.

"Issues do vary, according to who you talk too," he said.

"People talk to me more about jobs, road and hospital upgrades, hip pocket issues like power prices, and refugees.

"We as Nationals have a real focus on what is important for people who live in regional Australia.

"Things they want is to talk about is job security and making sure there are jobs for their kids.

"This outweighs classifications of left and right."


TUESDAY 1.40pm: PROTEST votes are damaging established governments and doing little to improve people's lives says one northern NSW conservative politician in response to Cory Bernadi's departure from the federal coalition.

"As a Nationals member and as a conservative I'm disappointed," said Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis after news broke of the federal senator's decision to quit the Liberal party and form his own party.

"Corey Bernardi was clearly elected as a Liberal senator on a Liberal ticket, that's who people elected to represent them, he's betrayed the team.

"I'm not convinced he'll be effective working as an independent senator."

"Time for a better way": Cory Bernardi

Mr Bernardi said he was "reluctant and relieved" to leave the coalition, in his formal speech to national parliament on Tuesday.

Politicians have become "self-serving", he said and voters had "a lack of confidence in the political process".

He said voter dissatisfaction was "a direct product of... the political class being out of touch" and he wanted to "put principle back into politics".

"It's time for a better way," he said.

"Today I begin something new".

Protest votes vs established government

Mr Gulaptis said Australia needed "a government that is strong, cohesive and got some direction - the whole world needs a government like that" and Mr Bernardi was headed the opposite way.

"It's almost a protest vote and quite frankly with what we've seen in the US, the protest vote is not necessarily the best result for a country because ultimately, all it's doing is the complete opposite what the establishment would do."

"We need to have well established government that delivers strong policies that will improve people's lives.

"A sign the Liberal Party has hit rock bottom": Tanya Plibersek, Labor

"I'm not going to take a line from a Labor politician," said Mr Gulaptis in response to Ms Plibersek's statement to press on Tuesday, "this is a sign of defection from both major parties."

"From Labor they're going to Green, from the conservatives they're going to One Nation, Corey Bernardi, the Shooters and Fishers.

"There's a section of the community that thinks government doesn't represent them and it's incumbent on all of government to deliver for everyone."

NSW: number one state, people still struggling

"From a state perspective," said Mr Gulaptis, "we too often say NSW is number one and it is but there are many people who aren't receiving the benefits of Western Connex and the Pacific Highway upgrades, for example.

"Many people are facing challenges in daily life such as mental health, homelessness and domestic violence.

"Their lives haven't been transformed by NSW going from last to first.

"We've got a lot of work to do and too often a focus of government is on business settings to create jobs and high standards of living."

Coalition "divided and dysfunctional": Justine Elliot, Labor

"Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberal National party are absolutely divided and dysfunctional," said Federal Member for Richmond Justine Elliot.

"A government which can't govern itself can't govern the nation.

"In contrast, Labor's been focused on making sure that Australians have secure well paid jobs for the future, protecting Medicare, and more funding for education."

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