Liberal senator Cory Bernardi won't comment on rumours he is leaving the Liberal Party in the next 48 hours, after he reportedly told staff about his decision days ago.
The conservative South Australian senator has previously made comments about starting his own party for disenchanted conservative voters who no longer feeling connected to the Coalition.
On Monday, the ABC reported Bernardi will leave the Liberal Party within the next 48 hours. When asked by The Huffington Post Australia, the Liberal senator's office would neither confirm nor deny the allegations.
Fairfax Media report Senator Bernardi will make the announcement on Tuesday, after informing staff of his decision in recent days. The South Australian senator has reportedly told staff he will part ways with the Liberal Party and join the crossbench as an independent conservative senator.
Education Minister Simon Birmingham downplayed the rumours early on Monday morning, saying, "I'm confident that Cory will stand by his words".
"Every comment I've ever seen Cory make, including over recent months, has been about the importance of Liberals, Nationals, conservatives -- all those in the right of centre -- working together and working as a strong Coalition."
Treasurer Scott Morrison reminded Bernardi of his long history with the party, saying the South Australian senator was elected as a Liberal senator to support the Liberal Party.
"At the last election he was elected as a Liberal senator by Liberal voters to support the Liberal Party in this Parliament and be part of our team," Morrison told reporters on Monday morning.
"What he chooses to do is for him to decide and for others to imply or suggest what he might or might not do or the reasons for it, only Senator Bernardi can answer those questions."
Nationals MP George Christensen said Bernardi's movements send a signal to the Coalition leadership that conservative values cannot be ignored within the party, otherwise the government's position will become "untenable".
"We cannot abandon conservative causes, conservative principles and conservative policies," Chrisensen told reporters in Canberra.
"We've got to re-embrace them, reconnect with that part of our core constituency and with the people at large and I think that there's moves afoot to do that.
"So I really do hope that we succeed in doing that because if we drift away any further, you know, it's going to become untenable."
Bernardi, a vocal conservative, has long opposed the legalisation of gay marriage, carbon reduction schemes and has remained one of the key members of Parliament pushing to reform section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.
The South Australian senator, who has links to political donors such as Gina Rinehart, will reportedly continue to support the Coalition government on crucial issues, but will advocate for lower taxes and socially conservative issues.
During his secondment to the United Nations last year, Bernardi was in the United States for the election of U.S. President Donald Trump which he said inspired him to be a "catalyst for change".
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