1. Bernardi defects
Nanjing Night Net

Cory Bernardi will resign from the Liberal party today and take up a new seat in the Senate where he has represented the Coalition for ten years and has been elected to serve out a further five. [My report/Fairfax]

In the past few years, the conservative senator has enjoyed an extraordinary media profile some lacklustre cabinet ministers would die for. Sick of the games, the flip-flopping on policy issues and the internal leadership machinations, Bernardi was pushed to the edge by two events last year: the government’s brief flirtation with emissions trading and a confidential phone call with Tony Abbott, the details of which emerged in a national newspaper. [My report/Fairfax]

Bernardi was also dismayed that he was being used as a pawn in a fresh round of Abbott agitation against Turnbull, writes Katharine Murphy. [The Guardian]

Senator Cory Bernardi with Tony Abbott during the 2010 election campaign. Photo: Glen McCurtayne

Today he will leave the Liberals, a party riven with factional in-fighting, floundering financially and lead by a leader seemingly in permanent stasis. It is an incredible risk that could easily backfire.

He has not informed Malcolm Turnbull or cabinet ministers of his decision, reports Rob Harris. [Herald Sun]

“Turnbull has made no substantive contact with Bernardi since the two were together in New York in September and therefore has not tried to keep Bernardi within the Coalition tent,” reports The Australian. [Dennis Shannahan]

David Crowe has a very well-briefed piece on Bernardi’s thinking and says the senator, who has been uncharacteristically silent, will make a statement to the Senate today when the new parliamentary year kicks off. [The Australian]

Crowe’s is an accurate read unlike some other lunatic theories floating around, including the idea that Bernardi will team up with Pauline Hanson’s One Nation.

This is a complete misread of his intentions. Bernardi, who has advocating banning the burqa for years, wants to target people voting One Nation, which promotes protectionist and populist economic policies he would never agree with, and bring them closer to supporting a coalition government. This is underscored well by Michelle Grattan. [The Conversation]

Senator Pauline Hanson and her increasingly powerful chief of staff James Ashby. Photo: Andrew Meares

Pauline Hanson acknowledges Bernardi will split her voter base. Her spokesman, James Asbhy tells Tony Abbott’s friend Cate McGregor that only Abbott can match Hanson’s populist appeal. [Daily Telegraph]

And while we’re on this point, Newspoll shows 52 per cent of coalition voters support introducing a Trump-like ban on citizens from Muslim-majority countries. (Overall voters are split) [Philip Hudson/The Australian]

Another theory being put forward is Bernardi’s factional rivalry with the South Australian moderate Christopher Pyne. With three moderate Liberal SA MPs in Cabinet but no conservatives from the same state, backbencher Tony Pasin tells Philip Coorey that he can understand Bernardi’s decision although he doesn’t support it. [Financial Review]

Sean Edwards was fifth on the ticket at the last election and lost his Senate seat. He says he would be disappointed by Bernardi’s defection just eight months into a six year term. [Naomi Woodley/ABC]

Liberal senator Cory Bernardi during the opening of the 45th Parliament. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

And this is absolutely Bernardi’s Achilles heel – his decision to seek preselection and reelection as a Liberal given there was already so much speculation ahead of the poll that he was preparing to jump.

This is something the News Corp tabloid The Daily Telegraph is highlighting as it revives its rat-based photoshopping skills last used when the Coalition suffered a defection – the then Speaker Peter Slipper. Daily Telegraph revives rat photoshopping skills for Cory Bernardi defection front page. via @wrongdoreypic.twitter南京夜网/M9J4LhV4rA— Latika M Bourke (@latikambourke) February 6, 2017

“Crazy defector Cory goes it alone” the paper screams. [Daily Telegraph]

Paul Syvret savages Bernardi and says has done more damage to the government than Bill Shorten, Bronwyn Bishop or Sussan Ley. [Courier Mail] He is an attention-seeking farce, adds James Campbell. [Herald Sun]

Laura Tingle similarly homes in on this writing, “off you go, Cory. Turn off the lights as you go will you? And perhaps apologise to the preselectors and voters who guaranteed you a six-year Senate spot just eight months ago.” [Financial Review]

Senator Cory Bernardi sits under a portrait of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in the joint party room meeting at Parliament House in Canberra last year. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

The upside for Malcolm Turnbull, if there is one when facing a defection on the first day back of Parliament, is that he can cite Bernardi’s departure to prosecute some of the progressive causes he supposedly believes in like same-sex marriage.

But this appears unlikely, according to a report that he nodded in agreement as the Nationals Leader Barnaby Joyce told the frontbench they needed to stop focussing on issues that appeal to Oxford Street (incidentally in Turnbull’s electorate of Wentworth) like gay marriage. Sigh. [Simon Benson/The Australian] 2. Turnbull convinced Trump

US President Donald Trump speaks on the phone with Malcolm Turnbull. Photo: Bloomberg

Well now the full story is out it paints Malcolm Turnbull in an almost heroic light. Not only did he stand up to Donald Trump but got the result he wanted and the one Australia desperately needs – to clear the offshore detention camps once and for all. [Peter Hartcher/The Sydney Morning Herald]

There’s no doubt that the PM’s conduct during the call and the dignified way he has resisted crowing about his victory over the leader of the free world has been a classy and is an A-grade performance by the Australian PM. 

Photo: Jessica Hromas

“He stood up to a bully, put the national interest first and maintained his composure publicly,” and those who rushed to criticise him for not condemning Trump’s Muslim ban look silly, argues Philip Coorey. [Financial Review]

“It is hard to imagine Bill Shorten standing his ground against a Trump rant as well as Mr Turnbull did,” editorialises the Financial Review. [Read]

Trump did Turnbull a favour, writes Shaun Carney. [Herald Sun]

Quite. But why-oh-why did the Prime Minister’s office not think to get this detail out well before now?

This is another classic case of Turnbull’s good intentions and in this case a rare and solid policy win once again being let down by poor political strategy and messaging. 3. UK Speaker takes aim at Trump’s ‘racism and sexism’

Britain’s Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow. Photo: Reuters

An extraordinary moment in British Parliament.

The Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow has launched a passionate defence of democratic freedoms and values saying he is “strongly opposed” to Trump addressing the parliament and has taken aim at the US President’s “racism and sexism.” [My report/Fairfax]

Whether or not Trump will address Parliament is the centre of a huge row in Britain ever since Theresa May extended the US President an invitation for a state visit this year, just seven days after the inauguration.

The Speaker earned a huge applause from MPs when he said “I feel very strongly that our opposition to racism and sexism and our support for equality before the law and an independent judiciary are hugely important considerations in the Commons.” The speaker of the House of Commons says he would not invite President Trump to Parliament pic.twitter南京夜网/AkKYaO7o9I— Esther Webber (@estwebber) February 6, 2017

And in the other big issue of the day…

The wigs worn by the House of Commons wigs are no more, despite some protestations from one MP. The Speaker says clerks can ditch the itchy hairdo to make the parliament look “less stuffy.” [BBC]

Now…what about those accents? 4. Trump

President Trump. Photo: AP

Not content with claiming “alternative facts” Donald Trump now believes “negative polls” constitute “fake news” adding to the long list of things politicians wrongly like to label “fake news.” [Nolan D. Mccaskill/Politico]

This piece from the New York Times (syndicated by Fairfax) about the dysfunction in the White House is an incredible read with a few amazing details, including that aides work in the dark in the Cabinet room at night because they can’t figure out the lights, and, more worryingly, that Trump wasn’t fully briefed on his own executive order giving Steve Bannon a position on the NSC. [NYT] Trump responded by slamming the paper again on Twitter, accusing it of making up stories and sources. 5. Kremlin wants apology from Fox News

Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: AP

Vladimir Putin doesn’t like being called a killer and wants an apology from Fox News about a question Bill O’Reilly put to Donald Trump in which he described the Russian President as such. [Reuters]

Trump’s response was gobsmacking although honest, when he said the US also had a lot of killers, questioning if America is innocent.

Peter Hartcher on how Trump is eroding basic tennants of democracy, to China’s benefit is a good read. [The Sydney Morning Herald] 6. Fillon digs in

The scandal surrounding the centre-right candidate in France says he made a “mistake” by hiring his wife and children to carry out parliamentary work, amid claims that work was non-existent.

Fillon is the centre-right’s hope to stare down the populist Front National Leader Marine Le Pen but there are some in his party who feel he should step down because of the scandal.

Fillon says he has nothing to hide and is not going anywhere. [BBC]

And that’s it from me today, you can follow me on Facebook for more.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.