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Liberals preselection battles under way -

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(generated from captions) The Labor Party's bitter preselection battles in Victoria are over. Now it's the turn of the Liberals. Two challenges are afoot, most significantly, one against prominent backbencher Petro Georgiou, who has rankled some within the party for his dissent on issues, like mandatory detention.

A former Howard Government advisor, Joshua Frydenberg, is taking on Mr Georgiou in the blue-ribbon seat of Kooyong in Melbourne's inner east. Rachel Carbonell with this report. The electorate of Kooyong is prized by the Liberal Party. It was held by Party founder Robert Menzies and later by another Liberal Leader, Andrew Peacock. Supporters and opponents of Petro Georgiou readily admit he breaks the mould. As one party source put it today, he's a migrant, a smoker, and not afraid to tell it as he sees it,

but his views on issues like mandatory detention

could now be a threat to his political career. He's accredited with having persuaded the government to take a gentler line on this controversial issue and I think that's probably the thing he's most famous for amongst the electorate. Petro Georgiou is being challenged by Joshua Frydenberg, who was an advisor to the Prime Minister, and also worked for Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer.

Mr Downer is distancing himself from reports he is backing Mr Frydenberg.

You know, he's got to make his own decisions about his own life. I'm not making decisions for him or urging him. It's just a matter for him and it's not appropriate for me to get involved in the preselections in Victoria. But Petro Georgiou has plenty of support -

and from some unusual alliances. The Federal Treasurer, Peter Costello, has stated his support, as has former Victorian premier, Jeff Kennett. He has an extraordinary intellect. He has great compassion. Most of his contributions, if not all, that he's made in the parliament have been carefully thought through and researched

and are very meaningful contributions. The five State Liberal members who reside in the seat of Kooyong also support Mr Georgiou, and so does former prime minister Malcolm Fraser.

But Mr Georgiou's detractors say

he has achieved little during his 12 years as Member for Kooyong. They say he's not on his way to becoming a minister and has done little real policy or branch development. The date for the preselection vote hasn't been set yet, but it'll be in the next four to six weeks. Local branch members have 60% of the vote. The other 40% is shared between State council delegates and party officials. There seems to be an element within the branch that is never satisfied with the incumbent. Perhaps they wish that Sir Robert would come back

and use the seat as the base for the leadership of the party, whatever,

and they're constantly having a go at the sitting member. The other Liberal preselection contest in Victoria is in the regional seat of Corangamite, where 68-year-old Stewart McArthur is being challenged by local businessman Rod Nockles. Rachel Carbonell, Lateline.