One of the more surprising moves in Monday’s ministry announcement was that Christopher Pyne would be giving up his title as Science, Industry and Innovation Minister to move into the newly created title of Defence Industries Minister (or Minister for South Australia) under Marise Payne, who kept her job as Defence Minister. The move is being regarded wearily by those in Defence, who are waiting to see how much autonomy Payne allows Pyne to actually work with. Insiders are not sure how the new arrangement will actually function, organisationally and hierarchically, with previous junior ministers in the portfolio always having their decisions routed through the Defence minister’s office. The last minister to allow their offsider to make decisions was Stephen Smith, a source says. There is fear about relying on South Australian manufacturing, the source says, when overseas markets have the expertise and experience to build the infrastructure Defence needs, with the savings it also needs. Will Pyne be able to keep his self-appointed title as “a Fixer”? We’ll have to wait and see.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey