Australian Conservatives a growing force in SA politics

The Australian Conservatives party has announced it will contest more than two-thirds of the Lower House seats at South Australia’s March 17 election.

The party, founded by South Australian Senator Cory Bernardi, currently has two Upper House MPs in State Parliament, who were elected under the Family First banner and last year merged with the Australian Conservatives will field 33 Lower House candidates out of a possible 47.

The state leader of the party, Dennis Hood, said the merger of Family First and the Australian Conservatives has delivered results.

“Since the amalgamation, our membership has increased substantially, our donations are tracking well,” Mr Hood told AAP.

Mr Hood sits in the Upper House alongside his colleague Robert Brokenshire who, like Senator Bernardi, was once a Liberal MP.

The candidates include Senator Bernardi’s chief of staff Rikki Lambert.

Mr Brokenshire is running for re-election this year and, despite increased competition from SA Best, Mr Hood said he was confident his colleague would be returned to office.

“We’re quietly confident that Rob will be returned and the reason for that is the polling suggests that he will be,” he said.

Mr Brokenshire said he was not taking his election chances for granted, but talked up the credentials of the party’s Lower House candidates, particularly in regional areas, some of whom also contested the 2014 SA election for Family First.

Mr Brokenshire said they included farmers and business people respected in their communities.

“Richard Bateman comes froma third-generation farming family and fishing family, highly respected in MacKillop,” Mr Brokenshire said.

“We have Rebecca Hewett who comes from a seventh-generation family in Narungga and Rebecca has a high profile over there.”

“In the Chaffey area, where there’ll also be a pretty significant fight politically — we’ll have Trevor Scott who for 16 years … has been the breakfast presenter for the local commercial radio station,” Mr Brokenshire said.