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Conservatives warn pm on possible split

CONSERVATIVE politicians have fired warning shots for Malcolm Turnbull to renew faith with the party’s base if he wants to keep the coalition united.

Nationals MP George Christensen has warned while hes loyal now, there would come a time when he couldnt stay in the party any more.

And conservative firebrand Cory Bernardi is reportedly preparing to split from the Liberals, with his Australian Conservatives group promising a massive 2017.

Mr Christensen says with satisfaction with democracy at an all-time low, he hopes 2017 heralds a new way of doing things for the Turnbull government and for politics in general.

Many people had urged him to pull the pin on the government and break away. However, I am loyal to (Nationals leader) Barnaby Joyce, loyal to the Nationals, and most of all loyal to local LNP members who selected me to be their candidate, he wrote on Facebook on Thursday.

What the Turnbull government needs to do is start being more loyal to the voters and the party members who sent us here or there will come a time when remaining inside the tent is no longer tenable to my conscience or my voters.

Senator Bernardi and Gina Rinehart met key members of incoming US president Donald Trumps team, sparking fears of a split bankrolled by the mining magnate, The Australian reports on Thursday.

Asked to comment on the report that she was funding a new Australian Conservatives party spearheaded by Senator Bernardi, Ms Rinehart said: I cant comment on gossip but I certainly think very highly of Cory Bernardi.

But the South Australian senator dismissed renewed suggestions he was poised to leave the Liberals as gossip and speculation.

The senator set up the Australian Conservatives movement after the July federal election to rival the left-wing protest and campaigning group GetUp. A Christmas message on the conservative groups website says more than 60,000 Australians have signed up to its mailing list despite it operating with modest staff numbers and a bare bones website.

This is all set to change in 2017, it says, promising a state-of-the-art website and a number of important campaigns.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott said Senator Bernardis comments when setting up the new movement had been right. Its best for the Australian people to have a strong, cohesive and sound Liberal Party, he tweeted on Thursday.

In July, Senator Bernardi ruled out his defecting but in the months since hes been outspoken on several issues including the review of the governments climate policies and consideration of an emissions intensity scheme for power generators.

Last week he said the major political parties were desperately seeking to reconnect with disenfranchised people.

We will have to wait and see if it works or whether the erosion of faith has gone too far for the current system to be restored, he wrote.

Gina rinehart and chinese real estate firm to buy australias largest private landholding

GINA Rinehart has entered a bid to buy one of the country’s largest cattle stations for $365 million in partnership with a Chinese real estate firm Shanghai Cred.

The wealthy mining magnate entered a bid for nations largest private landholding, S Kidman & Co, through joint venture company Australian Outback Beef Pty Ltd.

The company is 67 per cent owned by Hancock Prospecting and 33 per cent owned by Shanghai Cred.

Kidman is one of Australias largest beef producers, with an average herd carrying capacity of 185,000 cattle. The company has pastoral leases covering 101,000 square kilometres across South Australia, Western Australia, Northern Territory, and Queensland.

The Hancock family started their first cattle station in North West Australia and Mrs Rinehart has grown the portfolio ever since.

Kidman is an iconic cattle business established more than a century ago by Sir Sidney Kidman, said Mrs Rinehart. It is an operation founded on hard work and perseverance by an outstanding Australian, and is an important part of Australias pioneering and entrepreneurial history.

Shanghai Cred principal Mr Gui Guojie said partnering with Hancock had already proved to be a productive approach and he looked forward to working with Mrs Rineharts firm.

Hancock Prospecting noted in a statement that should the transaction be completed, the level of foreign ownership of Kidman would slightly reduce from the existing level of 33.9 per cent.

More than 600 interested parties have held discussions with sale manager Ernst & Young since the Kidman landholding went on sale almost 18 months ago.

The portfolio consists of 19 properties operated as 12 enterprises ten cattle stations, a bull breeding stud farm and a feedlot.

The deal, which has already been attacked, will be subject to approval from Australias Foreign Investment Review Board and the Chinese government.

Garry Korte, CEO of Hancock, said: The quality of the Kidman herd and channel country properties complement Hancocks existing northern cattle properties, and align well with Mrs Rineharts plans to build a diversified cattle holding in Australia, taking advantage of integration opportunities.

Chairman of Kidman John Crosby said Kidman shareholders were pleased with the arrangement.

We welcome the significant investment proposed in addition to the purchase price and are confident that the Kidman business will be in good hands, he said.

The offer is dependent on the completion of the divestment of the Anna Creek station and the Peake by Kidman to other Australian grazing interests.

The proceeds from the sale of Anna Creek and the Peake will be paid to Kidman and retained in the company for the benefit of Australian Outback Beef.