21 Jan 2020
Nick Bonyhady | Sydney Morning Herald
Conservative South Australian senator Cory Bernardi has officially resigned from Federal Parliament, handing his spot to the Liberal Party.
Senate president Scott Ryan said Mr Bernardi’s resignation would take effect immediately.
‘‘I will shortly be writing to His Excellency the Hon. Hieu Van Le, Governor of SA, to inform him of this vacancy, which will be filled in accordance with Section 15 of the constitution,’’ Senator Ryan wrote on Twitter.
Mr Bernardi defected from the Liberal Party to form his own party, the Conservatives, in 2017, but announced he was quitting politics last year after his new party failed to have the impact Mr Bernardi hoped.
‘‘I realise that my enthusiasm to return to Parliament in the new year had gone and it’s time to move on with other aspects of my life and let others pick up the cudgels,’’ Mr Bernardi said at the time.
He has almost always voted with the Liberals since quitting the party.
Former Law Council of Australia president Morry Bailes and South Australian Legislative Council president Andrew McLachlan are among the names being discussed to fill the position. Mr Bernardi’s replacement will be formally chosen by Mr Van Le on the advice of the state’s executive as the South Australian Parliament, which has to confirm the appointment, is not sitting until February 5.
Because Mr Bernardi was elected as a Liberal, his replacement will come from that party under a constitutional amendment passed by a referendum in 1977.
Before the amendment was passed, state parliaments did not have to fill Senate vacancies with a politician from the same party as the former senator.
ABC election analyst Antony Green said it was the first time the provision, which explicitly contemplates a scenario like Mr Bernardi’s, has been used to give a seat back to the party under which the outgoing senator was first elected. Mr Bernardi, who was vehemently opposed to marriage equality, left the party when it was under the leadership of his ideological enemy, Malcolm Turnbull.
The resignation will give the Coalition an extra seat in the Senate, taking the government’s tally to 36 seats. It needs 39 votes to pass legislation and 38 to block.
Senator Cory Bernardi.