It’s official. The people have spoken. Christopher Pyne has won the inaugural People’s Choice Snoutie.
Voting for the People’s Choice Snoutie Award kicked off last weekend, and closed yesterday. For a while Senate Leader Eric Abetz was a serious contender for the title – but Pyne, like the poodle with a bone that he is, took the lead fairly early on and eventually streaked ahead to claim victory by a significant margin.
The Inaugural ‘On the Snout’ Awards
In case you didn’t catch last week’s ‘unbiasedly’ prestigious and soon-to-be coveted ‘On the Snout’ awards – here’s a quick run-down on what you missed.
The On the Snout awards – or ‘Snouties’ – are named after recently retired U.S. political satirist Jon Stewart, who in his last show exhorted his viewers to be vigilant in watching out for bullshit, saying “if you smell something, say something”.
There was plenty to smell in Canberra in the last parliamentary sitting fortnight – and so the ‘On the Snout’ awards were created. The inaugural awards went to four worthy winners:
- The David Copperfield Magic with Numbers Award – went to Joe ‘Eleventy’ Hockey
- The George Orwell 1984 Award – went to Peter ‘PDuddy’ Dutton
- The Dragon Slayer Award – went to Chief of Lawfare, George Brandis
- The Golden Snoutie Award – the most coveted award of all – went to Snout in Chief, Tony Abbott
The People’s Choice Snoutie
While the winners of these four key awards were announced last week, there was still one award for the last parliamentary sitting fortnight left to be decided – the People’s Choice Snoutie.
As its name suggests, the winner of this award is chosen by the people of Australia who were asked to vote for “the member of the LNP cabinet (other than Tony Abbott) who has been the most ‘on the snout’ over the last fortnight“.
And like the well-informed electors that we are, the people of Australia voted. With well over a thousand votes cast, we can be fairly certain that the people have picked the LNP cabinet member most worthy of this award.
And the winner is . . . (drum roll please) . . .
Christopher Pyne [Sound of applause]
Christopher Pyne’s win is particularly impressive since he was not actually present in the second week of the last parliamentary sitting. And in week one, other than some press around his expense claims – particularly around spending $5,000 to fly three members of his family to Sydney for New Year’s Eve in 2010 – he was on the periphery of key events rather than being at the centre of them.
So how did Christopher Pyne win the much coveted People’s Snoutie award?
The answer is fairly simple – Pyne started the fortnight with such a high level of snoutiness, that even a fairly low profile over that two week period was unable to dull exactly how ‘on the snout’ he is. This is perhaps best expressed by an insightful quote from The Shovel a few months back:
Being massively annoying and effectively wearing people down until they agree with him is Christopher’s strong suit.
In Christopher Pyne’s own words:
It’s this level of commitment to snoutiness that was a key part of why Christopher Pyne won the inaugural People’s Choice Snoutie this week.
So let’s revisit some of Christopher Pyne’s greatest hits this year, which led to him winning this award.
Christopher Pyne’s Greatest Hits for 2015 (the story so far . . . )
Education reform – it’s all about the money
Pyne’s so-called ‘Education Reform’ legislation is undoubtedly his number one hit for the year – and a continuing chart-topper from 2014. Its title suggests that he is doing something to improve the way we educate. But not so much. In fact the only thing the Bill is seeking to reform is the way that higher education and research are funded – he’s effectively doing Joe Hockey’s work for him. But reform is a much nicer word than ‘taxation’ – making it easier to package up this pile of snoutiness for an attempted sale.
But unfortunately for Pyne and his LNP colleagues – nobody is buying it. The draft Bill has been knocked back by the Senate twice already. Further, both Australia’s top universities and one of the experts who provided input to the design of the original Education Reform Bill say the proposed Bill is fixing a problem that doesn’t exist while leaving the real issues unresolved – suggesting even more that the Bill is primarily a revenue-raising exercise by the government rather than actual reform – and definitely on the snout.
The Black Knight of Snoutiness
It was Nick Xenophon who first pointed out our People’s Choice Snoutie winner’s similarities to the Black Knight in Monty Python’s Holy Grail:
Just like the Black Knight, Pyne keeps on keeping on with his much-on-the-snout Bill, despite the disdain almost everyone else has for it. Which brings us to . . .
Taking Research Scientist Jobs Hostage
No-one could forget Pyne’s attempt at a ScoMo tactic back in March this year, when he took 1700 Research Scientists’ jobs hostage. His initial ransom demand was that the Senate must pass his Education ‘Reform’ Bill.
In doing this, he was following Scott ‘ScoMo’ Morrison’s tactic from the end of the previous year, when he managed to get changes to the Migration Act passed by the Senate. ScoMo did this by telling the crossbenchers in the Senate that if they didn’t pass the changes, 150 children would not be released from detention before Christmas. As you may recall, apparently ScoMo even had some of the actual children – who could have been released at any point without the Bill being passed – call Ricky Muir, pleading to get him to pass the bill.
It’s difficult to get snoutier than that.
But Christopher Pyne is always up for a challenge it seems. And so, our first People’s Choice Snoutie winner decided to emulate ScoMo – this time holding Scientists’ jobs hostage, saying:
Luckily, after significant outrage from pretty much everyone, Pyne magically found the money needed to fund these jobs, and he released his hostages without harm, declaring himself to be ‘the fixer’.
Taking from the Poor to give to the Rich (the Anti-Robin-Hood)
In 2014, Pyne has cut funding to certain state schools and increased funding to a significant number of private schools. Apparently he feels a “‘particular responsibility for non-government schooling’ that [he] doesn’t feel for government schools“.
Magically finding funding for one of Abbott’s Pet Projects
Despite the emergency in university funding, it turns out that there is still money available for one of Abbott’s favourite climate-contrarians – Bjorn Lomborg.
As you may recall, four million dollars was offered to any university who would allow Lomborg to establish a ‘consensus centre’ on climate change – of which up to 70% was to have been spent on promotion, marketing and events. The University of Western Australia was originally going to give Lomborg a home, but withdrew due to strong opposition to the centre. Apparently Flinders University is currently considering whether they will take him and his four million dollars worth of funding on.
Any single one of these entries would have been enough to win Pyne a Snoutie award in the normal run of events. Combined, they paint a picture of a worthy winner of the inaugural People’s Choice Snoutie award.
Take a bow Christopher Pyne – you are most definitely on the snout.
Thanks to all for voting. If you’ve got further examples of Pyne’s Greatest Hits this year that you’d like to share, I’d love to hear your comments below.
This article was first published on Progressive Conversation.