Thursday June 3, 2010 9:23am WST
For Immediate Release
"The departure of Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser's former staffer and determined leader of Liberal backbench dissenters Mr Petro Georgiou may well mark a disastrous end to the unwavering insistence on decency for those fleeing persecution and arriving by boat to our shores from within the Liberal Party," WA Human Rights group Project SafeCom said this morning, following the valedictory speech by the Member for Kooyong.
"Mr Georgiou's departure from Parliament raises the question who will from now on be the most vocal and expressive in conservative politics in this area. Petro was unquestionably the leader of what has been called "the Kooyong Break-out", and for us as citizen advocates, Mr Georgiou has been responsive in his relationship with Project SafeCom, he has been open and willing to communicate, and he has been at all times greatly respectful. We owe him a great deal of gratitude," spokesman Jack H Smit said.
"While there are others in the Liberal party who have been vocal on this issue, such as Ms Judith Troeth, Ms Judi Moylan, Mr Russell Broadbent and Mr Bruce Baird, it remains to be seen whether there will be enough oxygen on the level of the leadership in the Parliamentary Liberal party that would give room for small-l liberal moderates to stand up and be counted, especially in the area of the treatment of asylum seekers arriving by boat."
"With the likes of Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison raiding the party and trying to destroy any sense of moderation about according our protection obligations to boat arrivals, intent on reintroducing TPV's, the Pacific Solution and a preparedness to repel boats from our shores, it remains to be seen how vocal for example Malcolm Turnbull will be prepared to be, even while we can conclude that Turnbull is in the same league of moderates as Mr Georgiou."
"With the departure of Georgiou - and also Ms Judith Troeth - the question must be asked whether the Liberal party will now further develop into a hardline, right-wing and ultra-conservative party if one takes the issue of the treatment of asylum seekers arriving by boat as a core temperature gauge. And consequently, the question arises whether anyone concerned about those fleeing from persecution, can ultimately vote for the Liberal party," Mr Smit concluded.
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]