Sophie Panopolous, fiery member for the Liberal held seat of Indi, learned her “take no prisoners”
attitude at the feet of the disgraced
former Liberal senator Noel Crichton-Browne. She raised the eyebrows of the
conservative country people in Indi when the couple campaigned together in the
2001 federal election, which saw her go
into parliament.

Yesterday’s outburst against the “dissidents” calling for a
more humane immigration policy is typical of her way of dealing with those who
have the temerity to disagree with her. But labelling them “terrorists” will not
win her many supporters.

She falls easily into the neo-conservative camp of John
Howard, Tony Abbott, Kevin Andrews and
Alexander Downer. This didn’t prevent the prime minister becoming concerned
about her association with Crichton-Browne. National Party stalwarts in her
electorate, who hold her in what is almost contempt, gleefully
allege that Howard told her to steer clear of her mentor.

Panopolous burst into notoriety
during the republic referendum when, along with Kerry Jones, was the “face” on
the monarchists and her barnstorming of the media and her inability to shut up
made her a figure of fun. But it obviously worked – her side won. She needs to be
more circumspect now she’s playing with the big boys and outbursts like
yesterday’s won’t bring her any closer to a front bench place which she not only
desires but sees as a God-given right.