In news that will no doubt hearten Sophie Mirabella, one of her parliamentary colleagues who she dubbed a “political terrorist” for speaking out against imprisoning refugee children looks to be facing another pre-selection challenge. Petro Georgiou, the member for Kooyong, survived a preselection challenge by former Howard and Downer advisor Josh Frydenberg before the last election after all of the Liberal party factions fell in line to support their sitting member. However, with the weight of government no longer on their shoulders, it appears that the Liberals now have more time for internal bickering and Frydenberg looks to have the support of the Costello-Kroger faction this time around.
I’m not quite sure how replacing one of the few Liberals who publicly questioned John Howard’s asylum seeker policies with one of Howard’s former acolytes will move the party back towards the political centre. By all accounts Georgiou is no angel, having been a ruthless operative within his own party, but publicly he has become the face of small-l liberal values for a party that likes to claim that it is a broad church. If the Liberals oust Georgiou they face the possibility of him running as a high profile independent at the next election, much like Peter King did in Wentworth in 2004. Josh Frydenberg does not have the public profile that Malcolm Turnbull had before entering parliament and could quite easily go down in history as the first person to lose Kooyong for the Liberals.