South Australian Senator Cory Bernardi says the focus of his Conservatives Party at the federal election will almost exclusively be on the Senate other than for a small number of lower house seats that may be targeted.
The Australian reports, this could include Peter Dutton’s marginal Queensland seat of Dickson and Tony Abbott’s seat of Warringah.
Both are central to left-wing activist group GetUp’s campaign to oust “hard-right MPs” and where preferences are expected to play a key role in the outcome.
Mr Dutton holds Dickson with a margin of 1.7 per cent. Mr Abbott holds Warringah by 11.6 per cent, but faces a challenge from former Malcolm Turnbull adviser Alice Thompson, who announced yesterday she would stand as an independent.
“There’s a likelihood we won’t be standing candidates in the lower house, but we may do it on an opportunistic basis where we think we can shape outcomes,” Senator Bernardi said.
“We may look at Warringah and Dickson, but it comes down to resourcing and quality of candidates. Our goal is to get common sense conservative candidates elected to the Senate.”
Senator Bernardi, who is not up for re-election, said another reason his party would mostly avoid the lower house was because of his dislike for several former Liberal colleagues.
“There are many left-wing Liberals who I couldn’t countenance preferencing, even though the Liberal Party is my preferred (major) party, because they’re just the same as Labor,” he said.
Senator Bernardi praised Scott Morrison’s policy agenda since replacing Mr Turnbull as prime minister in August, but said a Coalition victory remained highly unlikely. “I’m not going to say the Liberals have reclaimed their mojo, but they’re starting to talk about debt, cultural issues and immigration,” he said.
In contrast Senator Bernardi has told Paul Murray Live on Sky News, Labor's superannuation and negative gearing policy has "flies all over it".
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