When did a sitting federal Liberal MP last lose their preselection?
Peter King in Wentworth. And the time before that? Andrew Thomson, also in
Wentworth. But outside Wentworth? Crikey readers, do you feel a list coming on?
Names, please, to [email protected].

All of which is a way of introducing the latest round of the Kooyong
match being played between Petro Georgiou and former Alexander Downer staffer
Josh Frydenberg.

The PM
is staying there for ever – and have a dekko at Peter Costello
during Question Time. He perches on the edge of the benches, arms
crossed and an expression on his face as if he’s taking a dump. With
constipation. And
piles. No wonder Alexander Downer is supposedly making beachheads to
get numbers – not one, but two, in Perth (if you believe the rumours) and
the Frydenberg push.

But opinions are finally firming. Georgiou will win. Not because of
merit, ideology, or his hard work in Parliament, but for the best political
reason. He has the numbers – and has for ages.

Georgiou’s enemies over the years have included Costello/Kroger people,
while the Kooyong branches are Kennett supporters. For this lot, any move to
unseat Georgiou could represent a win for the forces of evil.

As we’ve said before, the person who will hand this victory on a platter
to Georgiou is MLC David Davis (with a little help from Ted Baillieu). Davis solidly controls the branches in
his electorate of East Yarra. Not only that, but David has a finger in many other electorate pies. He
may not have much influence on the state executive at the moment, but at a
grassroots level Davis is king – and the Kroger/Costello
forces know it.

And this is where it gets interesting. Davis has not so much gained this power
from ruthlessness – from stacks – but by gentle and subtle fostering of
branches and their key personnel. Unlike many other politicians, Davis actively
supporters branches and their members. Unlike others, he doesn’t take them for
granted – or use them as his personal playthings. Davis makes sure he gets to the meetings
and functions.

There’s been talk that Davis is keeping Kooyong for himself. Of
course, as soon as he arrived in Canberra and bumped into Peter Costello there’d be factional strife. And
he’d be a mere backbencher. Davis is probably more interested in a
leadership role for himself in the Victorian state parliament.

So, Georgiou is safe for now. Davis has the numbers. Frydenberg has
little or no grassroots support. And the Kroger/Costello camp know the enemy of
my enemy is my friend.

Peter Fray

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