THE Australian Conservatives party, founded by South Australian senator Cory Bernardi, is set to merge with the long-running Family First party.
The move represents a consolidation of the far-right of Australian politics that will likely allow anti-marriage equality advocates to present a more united, and no doubt very loud, political front.
Australian Conservatives’ absorption of Family First is expected to consolidate its base of power in South Australia with state upper house members Dennis Hood and Robert Brokenshire switching allegiances from Family First to Australian Conservatives.
The merger follows the High Court ruling that Family First senator Bob Day’s election to the Senate in 2016 was invalid, which was said to damage the Family First brand.
Day’s replacement, Lucy Gichuhi, will not go on to represent the Australian Conservatives and is expected to now represent South Australia as an Independent.
In 2016, Family First candidate for the senate in Tasmania Peter Madden came under fire for linking the Orlando Pulse nightclub massacre to “the real & present dangers of the gay marriage agenda to [Australian] children”.
Madden also campaigned with a trailer that stated “homosexual marriage = gay sex-ed for children”.
Family First states unequivocally on its website that the party believes “that marriage at its essence and by definition is between a man and a woman to the exclusion of others for life.”
Family First founder, Pentecostal paster Andrew Evans, told the ABC, “It’s just crazy to divide all the time, so we felt let’s [get] the conservatives [to] unite and make an impact and let them know our values and see if we can have some impact across the nation.”
Pauline Hanson, the other major far-right voice in Australian politics, has declined Bernardi’s suggestion that One Nation could also amalgamate with Australian Conservatives through a spokesperson.