Senator Cory Bernardi has resigned from federal politics, two years after leaving the Liberal Party to form the Australian Conservatives.
His resignation was submitted yesterday and effective immediately, with his seat reverting to the Liberal Party, ABC News has reported.
Bernardi has frequently drawn criticism for his opposition to marriage equality, famously claiming in 2012 that same-sex marriage would lead to a push for legalised bestiality.
He was removed from the front bench over his comments, with Malcolm Turnbull describing them as “extreme” and “hysterical”.
“The next step, quite frankly, is having three people or four people that love each other being able to enter into a permanent union endorsed by society – or any other type of relationship,” Bernardi said at the time.
“There are even some creepy people out there… [who] say it is okay to have consensual sexual relations between humans and animals.
“Will that be a future step? In the future will we say, ‘These two creatures love each other and maybe they should be able to be joined in a union.’
“I think that these things are the next step.”
As well as his homophobic remarks, Bernardi opposed medical care for asylum seekers, advocated for banning burqas, and vocally denied climate change.
Bernardi announced his intention to retire in an interview in November.
“The timing is right, I just don’t want to go back to it next year – I feel in a very happy and comfortable place,” he said.
“If nothing else I opened up lots of conversations, I remained true to my values and principles. People will make judgments about whether they were right or wrong.
“One of the great things is my integrity is intact.
“I feel very comfortable with who I am and what I have spoken about and if I have regrets, there are very few.”
Launching the Australian Conservatives, Bernardi appeared to fashion his image after US President Donald Trump, appearing in a Make Australia Great Again cap.
However, the party’s “lack of political success” and funds led to its deregistration last year.
Former Law Council president Morry Bailes and South Australian Legislative Council president Andrew McLachlan are among those tipped to contest Bernardi’s former Senate seat.