Donald Trump: Cory Bernardi warns Liberal Party must learn lessons of US presidential election
Conservative senator Cory Bernardi has warned the Liberal Party not to ignore the lessons of Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election, saying major parties on both sides face an unprecedented challenge from populist movements.
- Bernardi says Trump voter concerns now mainstream
- Says Australian voters have similar concerns
- Warns Liberal Party must listen or lose votes
He said the US public felt “their government has failed them”.
“After being promised change and change and change, it didn’t come,” Senator Bernardi said.
“So they thought, ‘Well, if we want real change we have to go for someone outside of the box’.”
He warned the Liberal Party had to find a better way to connect with people.
He previously stopped short of providing assurances he would not go out on his own.
The Senator said while that was not his preferred option, he was still deciding what approach he might take if it came to that.
“Mainstream parties have refused to discuss the issues and people are going, ‘If you’re not going to talk about it, I’ll find somebody that will’,” he said.
“It’s the same in Australia with Xenophon, with Hanson, with Hinch, with Palmer before that.
“They’re looking outside the main parties and if you don’t think there’s a problem, think about this: about 25 per cent of people voted for a minor party in Australia, I think about 10 per cent didn’t vote and 5 per cent cast an invalid ballot — or that might be reversed.
“But that means 40 per cent of the people didn’t go with the Liberal Party or the Labor Party and that says there’s not a great deal of confidence in either of them that the issues are being addressed.”
Trump is catalyst for change: Bernardi
Senator Bernardi has spent the past three months as an observer at the United Nations in New York. The secondment coincided with the US presidential elections.
“It was very unfashionable to support him [Mr Trump] and yet I support [him],” he said.
“It’s not about his character, it’s not about his policy positions, but I thought he’s a catalyst for change and that many of the issues that he’s been targeted about and criticised for, I think are absolutely mainstream.”
During his decade in parliament, Senator Bernardi has tried to bring his hard right values into the mainstream of Australian politics.
He has vehemently opposed gay marriage, opposed the Safe Schools anti-bullying program because he said it intimidates children into conforming to a “homosexual agenda”, pushed for an inquiry into Halal food certification after linking it to terrorism funding, and has driven the push to change section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act — arguing it restricts free speech.
His beef with the current state of politics is that he thinks it is ruled by political correctness.
“I have to tell you that it was many in my own party who stopped it,” he said.
“I wanted to have this discussion many, many years ago and they would tell me to be quiet, publicly and privately.
“In the course of my 10 years in politics I’ve been criticised for many, many things, but in the fullness of time, many of those things have been born [sic] to be reasonably accurate.
“If people don’t like my tone or my language, that’s their business, but the accuracy of what I’ve said and how it resonates with the Australian populace seems to be coming to fruition.”
‘I hope Trump will grow into the role’
The election result has exploded the political establishment in the United States.
“Donald Trump was a businessman. He was a media reality TV star,” Senator Bernardi said.
“I hope that he will grow into the role, I think he will.”
“There’s a great opportunity to strengthen this country — to make it great again — and also in Australia I think there’s a lot we can learn from it.”
“Not having people that are undocumented or illegally in your country is entirely mainstream. Cutting taxes is mainstream. Protecting your borders is mainstream. Trying to get government out of people’s lives is a very sensible thing.
“Reducing regulation is very sensible to me.”