Say farewell to one of the few remaining rational voices on the asylum seeker issue as we brace ourselves for a very ugly election campaign.

This morning we were treated to the bizarre spectacle of Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott sitting next to each other in the House of Reps, directly behind departing Liberal MP Petro Georgiou as he delivered his valedictory speech to parliament.

Georgiou’s name has been back in the news of late, cited as one of the few motivating factors that kept former prime minister Malcolm Fraser (and now ex-member of the Liberal Party) from tossing in his membership when the Coalition first began to use asylum seekers as a political football, way back when Pauline Hanson first reared her ginger head.

This morning, as the likes of Browyn Bishop, Christopher Pyne, Joe Hockey and Kevin Andrews listened on, Georgiou shared his last word on the politics of asylum seekers:


Georgiou said:

I believe we have a fundamental obligation as a nation. That obligation is to not further harm those who bring themselves into our orbit of responsibility seeking safe haven.

We should not, as Australians, compound the persecution of genuine refugees, delaying their processing, locking them up in unnamed third countries or keeping them in permanent insecurity on temporary protection visas.

I once said to journalist Michael Gordon that “in life there are many things that you’d like to walk past and not notice. Lots. But sometimes you do notice and when you notice, you have to do something”. Well I have noticed some things, and I have tried not to walk past.

A tip of the hat to you Petro — you didn’t walk past, and for that we thank you.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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