CANBERRA – Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has called on Liberal defector Cory Bernardi to immediately resign from the Senate as the "honourable" thing to do and run again under a different banner at the next election.
Addressing revelations Turnbull and the Senator never discussed him leaving the party before he revealed his intentions to the PM on Tuesday, the Prime Minister has blasted him for not talking to his leader.
— James Massola (@jamesmassola) February 7, 2017
Offering "a credible, principled alternative" for disillusioned voters, the South Australian announced he was defecting on Tuesday saying, "It really is time for a better way. For a conservative way".
The Senator has been described by former Liberal colleagues as a traitor who has committed a "dog act" in leaving and breached faith with Liberal voters. Now the Prime Minister is now leading calls to him to leave the Senate.
"The honourable thing for Cory to do is to resign from the Senate and then run again at the next election as an independent or under his new party," Turnbull told reporters in Canberra.
"He has talked about the importance of keeping faith with the electorate. The Liberal Party of South Australia and the people of South Australia only seven months ago elected him to the Senate for a six-year term as a Liberal Senator."
"He has chosen not to do that. He has to explain that."
Bernardi was frustrated and "ignored" within the Liberal Party, but he has revealed on Channel 9's Today Show he did not address that with Turnbull.
"We haven't had a conversation about me leaving the party at all," he told host Karl Stefanovic.
The Prime Minister has put responsibility firmly on Bernardi's shoulders.
"Look, I've spoken to Cory Bernardi on a number of occasions but if a person wishes to leave a political party, plans to leave a political party, then normal practice and courtesy would suggest that they would talk to the leader about it," Turnbull told reporters in Canberra.
Turnbull said the government will try and work with him as "any other" member of the crossbench.
Despite his defection, Bernardi has declared his support for the Liberal Party and he hopes his former colleagues will see what he has done as an opportunity.
"I'll be outside of the tent, I'll be making sure the stake is in the ground and I hope that stake will be tethered to the tent that is the centre-right government called the Coalition and that that will keep it in place," he told Sky News.
"I'm looking for the best possible outcome for the Australian people. I've found myself constantly battling to uphold the principals and values I believe and continue to believe from when I joined the Liberal Party."
ALSO ON HUFFPOST AUSTRALIA