Thursday, June 16, 2005

Sophie Panopoulos - Silly She Ain't!

John Howard’s draconian detention policy for both illegal immigrants and refugees doesn’t sit well with some of his own Liberal Party MPs. They deem it too harsh and unAustralian.

Led by the Petro Georgiou, MP for Kooyong, a number of Liberal Party MPs may cross party lines to vote for a Private Member’s Bill (to be introduced by Georgiou) that calls for the release of refugees’ children and long time detainees into the Australian community while their cases continue to be heard. They don’t want to see detainees ‘lost forever’ behind barbwires.

Georgiou's constituency, Kooyong is a Liberal Party’s blue ribbon seat, virtually the very heart of political conservatism, so he isn't your typical do-gooder leftwinger. The spectre of refugees' children held behind barbwire has been and still is very troubling even to many conservative Australians like Georgiou.

While rare even in Australia, crossing party lines to vote against one’s own party had occurred in Australian Parliament before, and reflected the admirable consciences of some MPs. Even the now-very-rightwing Attorney General (and former Immigration Minister) Philip Ruddock had once crossed party lines to vote on his conscience.

This is one political gesture of conscience that is unlikely to be seen in the Malaysian or Singaporean parliaments.

However, Sophie Panopoulos, also a Liberal Party MP, has condemned Georgiou and his group for acting like political terrorists in threatening the government with the embarrassment of crossing party lines over an issue that is supported by the majority of Liberal Party members.

She is of course wrong in her belief that the majority of her Party MPs supported the hardline detention policy, as silence among the others doesn’t necessarily mean support. They could just be chickenhearted.

Some have condemned Sophie Panopoulos comments as downright ‘silly’. But I don’t think so. No, I don’t support her comments, but a silly woman she certainly isn't - in fact, far from it.

Sophie Panopoulos came to public notice during the last referendum on the issue of an Australian republic, where she proved to be a formidable speaker for the monarchist lobby. A lawyer, she’s smart, highly qualified, attractive, young, articulated and very vitriolic in her attacks on the Republican movements, so much so, that Malcolm Turnbull, a Liberal Party rising star, and the former leader of the Republican movement, in his book Fighting for the Republic described her as particularly ‘vicious’.

I have been observing Panopoulos' actions - one couldn't but help notice her the way she had gone about them. I reckon the ambitious and very savvy Panopoulos knows that the short cut to the top echelon of the Liberal Party is to project herself as an ardent and articulate supporter of PM John Howard, so as to attract his favourable notice. Hence her strategy appears to be always siding Howard, and in an ostentatious manner.

Howard is of course a staunch monarchist and the champion of the tough government’s policy on mandatory detention. Personally I am not sure whether Panopoulos is the monarchist that she portrayed herself to be, but what does that matter so long as Howard notices her, and he most certainly has.

But watch out for her career. This lady will surely climb up the political ladder.

1 comment:

  1. As a staunch monarchist, I could say Sophie is a breath of fresh air.

    But from her history I say she's a cause for concern and ain't climbing any ladder in my lifetime if I have my way.

    Sophie has her own website- . I didn't know being an MP made you an Australian business, enabling you to register an Australian company domain name. Funny that.

    Sophie has had a history of soapboxing what a "political" this-and-that is. I wasn't aware she owned "politics" to brand people such titles. She called Mark Latham a "Political fraud" and said he had no background in the working class. Maybe this is so but Sophie has no background in the electorate of Indi.

    I know a person who lives in Indi. Indi is a safe seat, there's no doubt about that. In the safer of the safe, it doesn't matter what you say, it matters the party you come from. I think if the electors of Indi were fully aware of what was coming out of her mouth they'd be more wary of her as an MP. When I mentioned the following incident to the person living in the electorate, she just rolled her eyes.

    Sophie's comments on headscarfs wern't politically savvy. It just shows her with similar malace and disregard for the feelings and opinions of the Australian populous at a time when terrorism should mean we greater intergrate muslims into the community, rather than isolate them by targetting their way of life.

    Sophie attended a confrence in 1999, yes. But the Federal Liberal party in recent times has had a strange history of setting up exclusive confrences. This Republic one in 1999 was just an example in a line of them, such as the one which had select members of the muslim community in 2005. The confrence came up with a range of unpopular proposals, which again, was quite strange given the mix of people that were allowed to attend.
    Sophie rants about how people "give the impression that they have either never read the Constitution or if they have at least made that much of an effort, have not understood a thing. What they do not understand is that the written constitution is only part of the story and the monarch can do nothing in Australia except on the advice of the Australian Government". Despite being a 'barrister' and whatever other titles she can put on her mantle, the woman is wrong. The Monarch DOES have considerable powers. Well, the Governor General does, and he represents her/him. The GG can dump the government any time they want (section 64). The GG can open and close parliament, shorten it and disband it (various sections). Who can forget what Kerr did in 1975 to Gough Whitlam?

    Now I am not suggesting that Australia should become a republic. Far from it. I am suggesting Neo-cons should think harder before they speak because they have been embarissing themselves lately. If not on headscarfs and name-calling, on abortion and limiting access to IVF for women over 40.

    But on the issue of Sophie not being 'silly' by backing Howard. Moylan, Geogiou, Baird, and Broadbent had nothing to lose by standing up for what they believed in as most were sidelined backbenchers long ago. Sophie has a lot more to lose though. Are sheep rewarded? Maybe, but more importantly, are vocal sheep rewarded by John Howard? What about chiming back to the days of Bill Heffernan, very vocal neo-con who got himself into hot water. John Howard does not appreciate him one wit now. There's far, and too far. And speaking of far, Howard may not have all that far to go as a politican. It's all well and good building a nest with Howard, but if Howard flies the coop, Costello's softer line on manditory detention could give Sophie the pecking orders. It is not smart to lay all your eggs in one basket.

    But with someone as vocal and sharp as Panopoulos, I'm safely writing her off.