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Lateline (Early) -

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Hello. I'm Jeremy Fernandez. Preparing for battle against avian flu, one bird at a time. We'll take you inside Jakarta's villages as police swoop on a special kind of enemy.

But first, the drum beat of Senator Cory Bernardi's new political party is growing louder. The former Liberal has merged his Australian Conservatives Party with Family First, giving him two more recruits in the South Australian Parliament. Perhaps more importantly he now has all of Family First's resources and infrastructure at his disposal to campaign in coming elections. And as David Lipson reports, he's now trying to tempt other MPs to join that march. He cut a solitary figure when he defected from the Liberals in February, now Cory Bernardi's grand plan for a new conservative force is taking shape.Good morning and thank you for being with us this morning for what I think is a significant occasion.And his allies are growing in strength and number. The silent majority of people are fed-up. They're sick of the political correctness and sick of a flip-flop government.For too long the left has had one party that represents their views and the conservative side of politics has been fractured with several smaller minor parties fighting for the same andas the same vote.The two Family First members of South Australian Parliament are now part of the Australian Conservatives Party, after a formal merger.We're united by our founding principles. Of supporting stronger families, fostering free enterprise, limiting the size and scope and reach of Government and also about rebuilding civil society.It's a great day for Family First.A great day is also Family First's last and it's been quite a ride. Who could forget the antics of Steve Fielding?I don't think they'll allow me in with this on.He entered the Senate in 2004, holding the balance of power for years, before bowing out in 2010. From 2014, Senator Bob Day also wielded a deciding vote but his 2016 election was declared invalid by the High Court because of a pecuniary interest in a Government contract. Now the Family First brand has been consigned to the dust bin of political history and its founding father doesn't mind one bit.I'm concerned not about me and my party but I'm concerned about Australia and our conservative values.Andrew Evans was elected to South Australian Parliament in 2002. Now retired on the Gold Coast, and with no formal role in the party, he recently met with Senator Bernardi and concluded it was time to fold in to the Australian Conservatives. We're so, so similar. I tried to work with the other conservative-type parties but they don't seem to see the value of linking forces together. And so when the issue with Cory started I was all for it.He says the merger will bow a boon for Cory Bernardi's fledgling movement.The last federal election every seat in Queensland had candidates. So we've got the infrastructure, we get people on the booths, we can get how to vote cards. We haven't got the personality that's in the mix to lead the charge and I believe Cory can.With the political scaffolding in place, Senator Bernardi is now hoping to bring more talent into the fold.I welcome minor parties, I welcome former colleagues, existing colleagues who wants to be part of a team that genuinely wants to make politics different.Thousands of people have joined as official members of the party. I think this is a momentum that's building. Former Western Australia Liberal Luke Simpkins helped bring on the first spill motion against Tony Abbott in early 2015. Out of despair over the Government's direction. He lost his own seat last year and with the Western Australia Liberals on the nose, he's deserted his old party altogether, seeking a better way for Australia.The populism, the lack of depth and treating the Australian people as mugs in a lot of ways. So I think this is really about what needs to be done for this country, not about what's good for me.His former colleague, a conservative still in Federal Parliament, sees things quite differently.I really don't think that there is anyone in the Liberal Party or the National Party that's considering defecting to the Conservatives. I think everyone understands that you get into politics to make a difference. And the way to make a difference is to be part of the Government to influence government policies of the day. And you are far, far better to do that with inside the Coalition than you are outside of it.But Craig Kelly sees the splintering of right wing politics as proof the party must stay true to its conservative roots.The lost vote that we've seen on the opinion polls - remember these are only the opinion polls - actually hasn't gone across the Labor Party or the Greens. They've rejected Bill Shorten and his platform. Where we've seen our vote move is to the right of the Liberal Party.It hasn't all been one-way traffic. Family First's newest representative, Senator Lucy Gichuhi, hospitaled to jump ship, rather than join the Australian Conservatives. She said while she respects the decision to merge:

That leaves the door slightly ajar for a potential move under the Australian Conservatives umbrella at some point after she's sworn in.Her appointment was a circumstance that none of us, not least of all Lucy herself, never realistically anticipated.Whether Cory Bernardi launched his new party right here in February, some saw it as little more than an up yours to Malcolm Turnbull and gave him long odds on any real success. Indeed, his opinion on matters of state, now that he sits outside the Liberal Party, has lost a lot of currency. But Cory Bernardi's ambitions have always been far greater than just stirring the pot. And in two short months he's made considerable progress towards something that resembles a challenge, a real challenge, to his former party.Do you want people that are horsetrading to get their names in the paper or do you want to get good political and policy outcomes for the people of Australia? They desperately need a better way.How much of a threat does this merger pose for the Government?It's not a threat yet and it's not a surprise.Former chief of staff to John Howard knows political danger better than most and he can't see it yet.What it's done is cement Cory Bernardi's chances of winning a Senate seat. He's off the bottom rung of the political ladder.But he fears Australia could follow a trend playing out around the world, most recently in France, where voters abandoned the traditional party candidates.I just hope we don't go down this European path of nobody can form a proper government and therefore nobody can govern. It is in many parts of the world this splintering has led to a complete economic and political mess.The real threat for the Government will come, he says, when preferences are drawn up flt weeks before the next federal election.The difficulty for the Government will be can Cory Bernardi and his mates hold the preferences and send them back to the Coalition? Or will they be wreckers and split the Coalition vote and send votes back to the Labor Party? Now that would be disastrous for the Government.All the while the man who made a name from running interference continues to plot the ultimate political disruption.Thanks.Thank you.So, for more on the future of conservatism, I was joined earlier by the executive director of the Menzies Research Centre, Nick Cater and the political editor of the 'Australian', Dennis Shanahan, who is in Canberra. Welcome to Lateline. Nick Cater, are you surprised by this merger? Was it natural and inevitable as Peter Dutton puts it? I think it's something they had to do, because with the changes in the Senate rules it means small, small parties, if you like, minor, minor parties will find it very hard to get elected. It's a consolidation of those parties to form larger groups that can get elected under the new rules. The other thing it does for Cory Bernardi's party is it gives it potentially a national reach now. Although Family First has been particularly strong in South Australia in recent years t does have in place a national infrastructure. So if you want it, if it was able to turn this into a national force he now has the tools to do it.Dennis Shanahan, how meaningful is this shift on the right? Is this the birth of a new UKIP, Brexit, Trump style vote?The minor parties are behavering like the moons of Jupiter. They're not have aggreat impact on the planet because they can't focus. And I think that this natural meeting of Cory Bernardi has the figure-head, as the leader and a leaderless party coming together so that we've got the party organisation merging with a leader, it's natural for theme do it. I don't think it's got any new ideas. I don't think it will have any new followers. They'll be the same people who are counted in that group of others when Newspoll does it and says there's one in 10 voters who are voting for others. I don't think it's a powerful enough movement to become a Brexit or a Trump movement.One in four voters at the last election gave their vote to other than the major parties. Is this an extential threat?It is a long-term trend that you can see happening in this country over the last 20 years, the erosion of the major party's primary vote but more dramatically in Europe and to some extent in America. Forstance you're getting parties forming government in places like Spain at the moment that didn't exist five years ago. The major parties have evaporated away. I think our political tradition here and the way that the election process works with one electorate, one member on a preferential system will always mean it will be very hard for minor parties to break through in the lower house. In the upper house is precisely a result of what you say. Three in men, one third of voters not -- 10, one third of voters not voting for the major parties.This primary vote keeps going down and it's gone down since the last election, according to the latest Newspoll, particularly for the Coalition. Will they be looking at this development with some concern? How does this change their dialogue and ideology? Will we see more conversations about immigration and 457 visas, Australian values?I think that's right. We're going to see much more of it. This was well before Cory Bernardi was able to form his new Australian Conserve dvs party. It is -- Conservatives party. It is clear when you look at the primary vote for the Coalition, it is does 6% since the election. Essentially they lost support in December. Had a rough summer. And have now ended up where they're not getting more than about 36%. That's the trend. Likewise, Labor has not been able to benefit from that loss of 6% from the Coalition. And there at 34% which is essentially where they were at the last election, the big growth has been for One Nation. It's gone from 1.3% at the last election to 10% now. That's on primary votes. So the threat here, the challenge to the major parties - and this includes Labor, because there are minor parties on the left and the Greens - who are taking away permanent votes from the major parties and the real danger, I think the threat here is not to the existence of the major parties per se, but that it is a late to andros to the parliamentary system where -- to the process and to the parliamentary system where we can see the break-up and the major parties vote so no-one gets a clear run as we saw with Julia Gillard, depending on one vote, and an independent vote, and we also see Malcolm Turnbull only one vote away from being in the same situation. This is the result of that fracturing of the major party votes on both sides. This isn't just a problem for the right and the conservative parties.Nick, is-s the fracturing of that centre of the major parties such a clear run?The fracturing of the major parties I think is something which has been happening for 20 years. I think it reflects the more polarised nature of the debate and of society. You've got a much larger group of people now, university educated. They tend to have different attitudes to people who haven't been to university. And some people call it insiders, outsiders disputes shaping up all the time. What you're seeing here is a clear manifestation of that. You're seeing a leader of the Liberal Party who is finding it hard to straddle both sides of the divide to both to anneal outsiders and the insiders. So you're getting, the fracturing off of some of the vote to these minor parties.In this context, what does it mean now to be a conservative when you see family values, economic conservatism, all sort of bundled up together? Is there a true meaning of what it means to be a conservative on the right side of politics?As somebody who works for a think tank on the right of politics I have always struggled with what exactly people mean by conservative. It hasn't had a long history in Australia. It's had a much longer history in Britain and America but only started to be used here 15 or 20 years ago. But in the way that the Australian Conservatives mean, it does moan a strong reference to family values, opposition to things like same-sex marriage and more traditional social values. It's a social conservatism if you like. But I think it's a far from widespread label and one of the problems with what's happening in abandoning the Family First brand which was, who doesn't agree with putting families first, to going to this Australian conservatism brand? It's a much more niche brand.Dennis Shanahan, is that Family First giving up that label, that mantra of putting family first a liability for them? Do people, voters who identify as putting families first, identify as conservative?I think that would be, it's a motherhood statement. Everyone wants families first. However you define the family. So that's not such a problem. I think that they had no choice. They were a party that had lost their direction. They had lost their membership. And they were losing their parliamentarians as well and will continue to do so. So I think the Family First was like so many of the other of these minor parties, these moons of Jupiter, have all come to an end. We all remember not so long ago a chap by the name of Clive Palmer appearing regularly on Lateline to talk about the importance of the Palmer United Party. We know where that's ended. This is what happens to these minor parties which don't have the organisation, the finance and the breadth. I think this is one of the problems for Cory Bernardi and for Family First. They are very South Australian focused and I think Cory Bernardi is probably aiming at South Australia when he first formed the Australian Conservatives. He said he wasn't going to compete in Queensland and West Australian elections. We saw One Nation going to do great wonders in the West Australian state election. Came completely unstuck. A lot of this is hype. Cory Bernardi is working it well. They'll continue to get some votes. The challenge for the major parties is to get back to knhem have moved over to them as John Howard did in 19 nath when he lost a great number of votes to the Pauline Hanson -- 1998 when he lost a great number of votes to the Hanson Party. He said he will be a conservative Liberal Party. He attracted people back. Malcolm Turnbull has to do the same. And Bill Shorten is faced with a challenge of how does he become more left to appeal to Greens supporters, while there are so many Labor supporters who are now supporting Australian Conservatives and One Nation? This is a challenge for both parties.Nick Cater, how do these two major party leaders take up that challenge? What do they need to say and do? What do voters want to hear? I think it's very interesting we're coming up to the 75th anniversary of Robert Menzies 'forgotten people speech. Australians who weren't influential and weren't rich and didn't have orgzs like trade unions backing them, they had no voice. In a sense the challenge for Malcolm Turnbull and for short Shorten is exactly the one Robert Menzies presented, to identify these forgotten people who feel they are not, they're reviews are not lis -- views are not listened to. Theresa May is doing this very well in the UK which what she's done is to identify the concerns of voters who went off in their case to the UKIP Party. That's exactly what the two main party leaders have to do here. Barnaby Joyce, Dennis Shanahan, says it's not good look that Lucy Gichuhi has chosen not to join this alliance. How consequential is it in your view she's chosen to go her own way?I think it's perfectly understandable from her point of view. I've dealt with her previously. She seems to be quite straightforward and intelligent person. And I think given that in the circumstances that she's actually joining the Senate and to find that her party has evaporated before she's actually sworn in is perfectly reasonable action for her. I think that this is another problem that the major parties face is that we have more independents, we have people like Cory Bernardi who left the Liberal Party to set up the Australian Conservatives, we have others who are moving away from their parties, their parties are moving away from them. It makes it all the more uncertain in a legislative and parliamentary sense. While I can see the reasoning for her decision not to join Cory Bernardi, it's not the end of the matter. We may yet see. It we may see her aligning with others yet. So this is all part of the questioning that goes on when we have so many independents and minor parties. Senator Bernardi says his arms are wide open to any defectors, anyone else who wants to come across. Will there be more in your view?I don't think so. If anyone was going to defect from the Liberal Party - and there there was a lot of talk some would, or the National Party for that matter - but so far we haven't seen it. This merger with Family First and the Australian Conservatives is a merger of convenience. It suits both. And it has nothing to do with attracting anyone from the Liberal or the National Party, or the Labor Party. This is a convenient merger of two very minor parties and I doubt that we'll see anyone else put their career in the major parties on hold by joining Cory Bernardi.Nick Cater, do you share his sceptism?I do. One of the things that happened when Cory Bernardi first declared he was leaving the Liberal Party is which he appeared surprised and others were surprised that nobody did go with him. It had an interesting effect amongst the parhmentry party and cementing them together -- parliamentary party and cementing them together and realising they may grumble but in the end the party comes first. What his defection has done is to galvanise the Liberal Party to some extent. How long that will last or how strong it is I don't know. I can't see anybody following him. Nick Cater, Dennis Shanahan, thank you both for joining us.Thank you. Thank you.

Across Asia, health authorities are bracing for the return of the deadly avian flu. Since 2005, Indonesian's had about 200 cases of the virus in humans, most of them fatal. Authorities there have been trying to prevent another outbreak with raids on Jakarta's crowded urban villages known as combngs. Adam Harvey went -- cubngs. Adam Harvey went patrol. Local authorities have a grim task. They're hunting a public enemy, uncaged birds. These are healthy chickens but that won't save them.

It's a ruthless mission. Mostly.

This is the frontline of Indonesia's fight against bird flu. People can catch the virus grormdz. It's killed about 170 -- virus from birds. It's killed about 170 people here.

To stop that from happening, the birds must go.

The thing about bird flu is how quickly it can take hold. It's only when you walk through the narrow lanes of urban villages like this where everyone lives right on top of each other that you get a sense of how dangerous it could be to a city like Jakarta. It's why public health programs like this are so important, no matter how ruthless they seem. Culling chickens isn't exactly popular but it's rel tskly uncontroversial. There's a deeper -- relatively uncontroversial. There's a deeper connection here to birds. The bird patrol has been tipped off about a group of pigeon keepers. These birds are more than a hobby. They're pets. And they're bred as way to make a little bit of money. They're coops carry the owners' names.

It's not hard to see the public health problems. Here, in the heart of one of Asia's biggest cities, locals still fetch water from a well, right beside the pigeon coops.

By now, our presence has been relayed through the kampung. An owner hurries to try to save his birds.

At the end of a grim day's work, we've killed a handful of birds and made a few locals very unhappy. Authorities just hope that word gets around. Keeping uncaged birds just isn't worth it. That is all for Lateline. From all of us on the team, goodnight.

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