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Aug 25, 2011

The Power Index: meet #2 on the list -- Christopher Pyne

Christopher Pyne is attack dog, enforcer, messenger, organiser, whipper-in and tireless spruiker for the Opposition cause. And if Abbott becomes prime minister he will be amply rewarded.


“Poodle”, ”mincing” and ”loathed” are just some of the epithets used to describe Christopher Pyne, but ”annoying”, ”schoolboy” and ”juvenile” are the ones you’ll most often hear.

Which may make it hard to believe that, now Nick Minchin has retired from parliament, the bumptious boy from Adelaide is the Liberals’ leading power broker, now.

”He will be instrumental and decisive in every leadership contest from now until government and beyond,” says one well-known Liberal MP. ”He travels all over the country, knows all the MPs and the party organisation, and he’s been at it for nearly 20 years, so he has a really solid base. There’s no question he’s the most powerful person in the party after Abbott.”

Not only is Pyne Tony Abbott’s No. 1 supporter and most trusted tactician, but the two men have been friends for more than a decade. ”It’s the Jesuit connection,” says one seasoned journalist, who has watched them break bread many times at Portia’s Place, a Chinese restaurant in Canberra. ”Since the late 1990s, Abbott has booked a table in the window every Monday while parliament is sitting. And in the early days it was always him holding court to Chris Pyne and Joe Hockey and the other Catholic boys.”

Pyne and his leader are at opposite ends of the political spectrum. But even though Christopher is a self-styled moderate, republican, ardent Peter Costello supporter and leader of the Liberal Left, he takes a hard line on drugs, abortion and stem-cell research, like so many Catholics. He also has WA Senator Matthias Corman, the Right’s answer to Arnie Schwarznegger, as a prominent Facebook friend.

One small ”l” Liberal from Victoria describes Pyne as being ”very right wing on every issue”. And, like Abbott, he is anything but moderate in the way he plays the game.

”Because he plays his politics hard, he does make enemies,” says his old Adelaide foe, the Right’s Nick Minchin. ”Where there is power to be gained, he will seek it; ruthlessly do numbers, ruthlessly pursue political goals without deference to what others might consider to be the niceties.”

Pyne draws his power from his formidable media contacts, immense energy and insatiable appetite for self promotion. His personal website, pyneonline, offers transcripts of all his latest interviews and media releases (there are scores), plus a potted bio (”About Christopher”), and links to his Twitter, Facebook, Flickr sites and YouTube appearances, replete with glossy photos of himself, his wife, his four children and his adoring Mum.

Pyne also commands an army of willing foot soldiers. ”He works hard on the ground with Young Libs,” says a senior Liberal Party official. ”He spends a lot of time running around, marshalling people, getting them involved, getting them organised, getting them obligated to him. He can get jobs for people, he can get people into seats, he has the numbers. He would have a huge influence on the South Australian state government if the Libs were in power there.”

Former NSW hard right MP Alex Hawke (now part of the so-called ”Sensible Right”) claims that Pyne takes the job so seriously he was on the floor at the Young Liberals conference in 2005 offering jobs to delegates if they voted against Hawke for president.

”Pyne is talented, effective and a very shrewd factional operator,” says another Liberal powerbroker. ”He has personality, he’s likeable and he really understands his colleagues. He runs the South Australian division of the party totally.”

*Read the rest of this article at The Power Index



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14 thoughts on “The Power Index: meet #2 on the list — Christopher Pyne

  1. Filth Dimension

    Christopher Pyne is the hair (from down there) on the bar of soap that is our Federal Parliament. And Federal Parliament is a filthy place.

  2. leone

    One more reason to pray that Rabbott never becomes Prime Minister.

  3. david

    After reading that I dont know if I should throw up or get pis-ed, or both, not in any order.

  4. Mark OTB

    With the exception of a few, there is a basic common feature with all politicians on all sides of politics. The self promotion and self aggrandizement to the point of political blasphemy is a vexation to the spirit of the honest everyday folk in the street and something they avoid like the plague. This man is no different.

  5. Coco

    “John Howard and Minchin couldn’t abide him” – one of the few times I’ve been 100% in agreement with both 🙂

  6. zut alors

    Whenever Pyne springs from his seat to stand at the despatch box, his face wearing that smug but earnest expression, I am always reminded of a boy who is overly eager to be admired as the teacher’s pet.

  7. samesame

    ewww, he makes my skin crawl…..is he the son or the skinny twin of alexander downer? They have the same hair!

  8. AR

    The Vertical Chihauhau is the epitome of the abuse of the Westminster system of parliamentary behaviour.
    His constant ‘points of order’ are banally focused on “not addressing the question”, always ruled to be invalid. Is he the most often ‘excused from the House under 94A”? As again today.
    One wonders how he sleeps at night. Or ever.

  9. Stevo the Working Twistie

    “He has personality, he’s likeable…” says “another Liberal powerbroker”. Clearly awesome judges of character, these powerbrokers. BTW, lay off the poodles. They are smart, companionable dogs. In fact, lay off the dog analogies full stop. I know a yappy shitzu-cross which has more personality, and is way more likeable, than Pyne.

  10. Moira Smith

    Chris Pyne gets my goat in a BIG way. Some years ago I wrote to ABC Lateline to object about the loathsome pairing of him and the then-relatively-minor Mark Latham (must have been years ago eh?) for so many Friday night discussion/argument features. I found them both so ….. ‘un’ …. Response from ABC, as I recall, was along the lines of ‘sorry you feel this way, this is on of our most popular features’ ?!?!?!?!

    However democracy rules KO. Latham became PM, Pyne is still an MP. Remember that some electorate (I’m glad I don’t know which) actually voted him in. (That’s democracy innit?)

    One more reason (if Abbott, Brandis etc weren’t enough) to vote for ANY party but Liberal – or Labor. Well, IMHO. We all have a vote and can use it as we choose.

    PS David, usual order of events, get pis-ed first then throw up. Whatever is bothering you. Doesn’t actually work to fix things, alas, as I can relate. Always worth a shot tho.

  11. Daemon

    My wonder is what the rest of the liberal party in his seat look like, if they go ahead and elect him. I always thought it was just me that felt he was the party responsible for my skin crawling, but knowing I am not alone is important.

    I wrote some years ago, about Downer snuggling choclately, about the shoulders of the upper-classmen in the parliamentary class. I often imagine Pyne resting along a lounge watching TV, with his head in Downer’s lap, having his ears gently massaged..

    I think I might go and throw up now..

  12. Microseris

    He reminds me of a whining self righteous private school prefect, telling everyone what to do.

    If he is small L, (insert deity of choice) help us all.

  13. Daemon

    A mate was over last night, who is a Liberal branch secretary, and according to him the little vermin causes boils to appear on people’s arses whenever he is mentioned. Can’t imagine what would happen if he turned up at a meeting…

  14. Venise Alstergren

    Chrissy Wissy Pyne is a pain in the fundamental orifice. The Coalition is stuffed to the gills with Catholics to the point where, if they get elected, they’ll have the power and the will to push the envelope of the Constitution.

    No longer can I bear watching Question Time, Tony Abbott makes my skin crawl and the sight of Chrissy Wissy eyes fixed with adoration on Tony Abbott, gives me the heaves.

    To suggest he and Tony Rabbott are at opposite ends of the political spectrum-albeit within the Liberal Party’s understanding of the term-is a case of acute naïvity. Fundamentalist Catholics are some of the most conservative people on the planet. The fact that their party calls itself liberal is one of the sickest jokes on the planet.


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