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Victoria: former Premier discusses Liberal pre-selection for Kooyong where former staffer Joshua Frydenberg is challenging Petro Georgiou.

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Tuesday 21 March 2006

Victoria: former Premier discusses Liberal pre-selection for Kooyong where former staffer Joshua Frydenberg is challenging Petro Georgiou


TONY EASTLE Y: Pre-selections for seats can be bloody affairs, as Labor discovered recently. Now it's the turn of the Liberals. 


The fight centres on the blue ribbon Liberal seat of Kooyong, where small "l" Liberal Petro Georgiou is under challenge from former government staffer Joshua Frydenberg. 


This morning former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett has come out endorsing Petro Georgiou, saying the Liberal Party needs him.  


Petro Georgiou has been criticised by some Liberals for his stance against mandatory detention. 


Nominations for the seat close on Wednesday. 


Former premier Jeff Kennett is speaking here with our Chief Political Correspondent, Catherine McGrath. 


JEFF KENNETT: But it is my observation of the work that Petro Georgiou has done that he is an important element of the Federal parliamentary party. He epitomises what, in my opinion, was Menzies liberalism, and that means both having a clear focus on what has to be achieved in terms of good economic management, but a very real social conscience and Petro is to me the very real essence of liberalism. 


CATHERINE MCGRATH: You talked about Menzies there. What do you think Menzies would take from a defeat of Petro Georgiou? 


JEFF KENNETT: I think Menzies would be disappointed because it would narrow the breadth of the church that the Liberal Party represents, because Petro is there. The party needs to make sure that it never ignores the fact that the Australian community is made up of many peoples with many views, and in part the parliamentary party, whether it be the Labor or the Liberal party, must be representative of the community that it seeks to lead. 


CATHERINE MCGRATH: He has ruffled a lot of feathers in the Federal party, particularly because of his stance on issues like asylum seekers, but other issues. Has he gone to far do you think, in the eyes of some? 


JEFF KENNETT: Well, I mean, everyone's performance is subject to interpretation by others but Petro shouldn't be just judged on that issue. Petro has a long record in terms of intellectual contribution. He has a very strong stance on what I would describe still today as a healthy multicultural society. And there are a number of other issues that he's also personally very much involved in. He has a focus, and he has compassion. I think he's a very good member. 


CATHERINE MCGRATH: What about the claims being made by supporters of Joshua Frydenberg, who's standing against Petro Georgiou, that he's been there since 1994, he is not likely to be promoted, he's done his best for Kooyong, but now it's time for the seat that Peacock had before Petro Georgiou, time it goes to someone who's young and up and coming? 


JEFF KENNETT: There will be a time when each of us, in our current occupation, will move on. The question is whether, at this stage, Petro should move on. I don't think he should. I don't think there's any basis on which that argument can be made. 


TONY EASTLEY: Former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett, speaking with our Chief Political Correspondent, Catherine McGrath.