Cory Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives are among 19 parties who will contest next year’s New South Wales state election, as both sides of politics brace for the possibility of a hung parliament with right-wing parties holding the balance of power.
The deadline closed last week for parties to register to run candidates in the March 2019 election in order to be eligible for electoral funding.
It is the Australian Conservatives, that are making senior Liberal Party strategists nervous with Senator Bernardi telling the Sydney Morning Herald that New South Wales is the state where his party has the highest membership levels.
High-profile anti-halal campaigner Kirralie Smith, who was a NSW Senate candidate at the last federal election, has been touted as a possible state candidate for the Australian Conservatives in New South Wales.
Ms Smith said she was a member of the party but had not yet made a decision about whether to run.
‘‘The party is accepting candidate nominations all around the country and I haven’t made any decisions yet,’’ Ms Smith said.
Asked whether she would consider an upper or lower house seat, she said: ‘‘I haven’t made any decisions’’.
Senator Bernadi last year said his party had 40 per cent of the paying membership of the New South Wales Liberals, a figure which would put his party’s membership at more than 4,000.
When asked about membership levels yesterday, he said: ‘‘We have definitely proven we are a mass base party and whether it’s now 15,000 or 20,000 [members] it doesn’t matter, I’ve stopped counting.’’
Senator Bernatdi praised Ms Smith’s star power in the conservative movement but stressed he had no say in preselections, which would be decided by the party’s local membership.
‘‘She is welcome to apply like anyone else and she would be an excellent candidate,’’ he said.
Click here to visit Kirralie Smith’s website
Picture: Kirralie Smith