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Christopher Pyne’s Greatest Hits of 2015: Winner of the People’s Choice Snoutie

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

OnTheSnoutDefinition 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

(Read more about how each of the above award winners won their awards here.)

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.

PeoplesChoiceSnoutieTranswithS 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:

You couldn’t kill me with an axe. I’m going to keep coming back.

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:

“There are consequences for not voting for this reform and that’s very important for the crossbenchers to understand. The consequences are that potentially 1700 researchers will lose their jobs.”

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.



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  1. Florence nee Fedup

    Didn’t the fixer hire a consultant for great amount of money, to bring the cross bench to his side. Yes someone to consult with them, on his behalf. Some nasty person hinted they wouldn’t answer Pyne’s phone.

    Yes the fixer definitely needs to be reward for always doing his duty. Duty not to the people, but to his boss’s cause.

  2. Roswell

    I voted for Hockey. I dipped out again. 🙁

  3. Stoo1970

    Was listening to Triple J’s Hack program on Friday, and one of their Friday Roundup commentators was this teenager called Caleb somebody-or-other (I think his claim to fame is being some sort of rising star in the Young Liberals gang in SA).

    The poor nipper sounded so much like Chrissy Pyne that I suspect he must be on the receiving end of a shit load of teasing and tormenting at school (his voice, language, and attitude made me want to pin him down and give him a wedgie, and I don’t have a bullying bone in my body)

    What is it about SA that produces these irritating numpties?

    Was Alexander Downer from SA? I always used to think Poodles Pine was his Mini Me..

  4. Stoo1970

    Oops – Poodles Pyne.

  5. Michael Taylor

    Yes, Downer is from SA. He was Pyne’s hero, as I understand.

  6. Kate M

    Florence – yes he did hire a consultant from the Nous group – paid them $150,000 to do his negotiations with the backbenchers for him – a number of whom refused to talk to him!!

    Roswell – he wasn’t my first pick either. Not that he’s not a deserving winner – but there were so many other choices.
    And take consolation that Hockey did win a Snoutie – and was in third place for the People’s Snoutie. (Abetz was in second place.)

    Stoo – there is something very poodly about Pyne

  7. Matters Not

    Dislike Pyne for a whole range of reasons, but I will focus only on one at this point in time.

    Like me, Pyne, and so many others in the current Parliament (and elsewhere), attained ‘qualifications’ at considerable public expense and now he, and others, demand that the same ‘quals’ should be at an individual, and not, a social ‘cost’.

    No doubt, university qualifications do lead to higher incomes but that generalisation hides any number of anomalies in need of exploration. In some cases, financial ‘return’ accrues in large part with the ‘individual’ while in other instances it’s the ‘society’ as a whole which benefits. While there is clearly a ‘grey’ line between the two, I think it’s fair to say (as an example) that the publically supported education of the ‘tax accountant’, specialising in ‘avoidance’ loopholes, benefits the ‘individual(s)’ much more than the publically supported education of the ‘special needs’ teacher which has clearer social, rather than individual. benefits.

    I, for one, think that higher education should be free in the same way that primary and secondary education is. The real benefits both individual and social which accrue (or not) should be caught in a fair and just, progressive taxation system. Accordingly, I am very much in favour of taxation reform. But then again, the meaning I give to same is somewhat different to Pyne et al.

    Btw, I think you need to edit:

    It’s title suggests

  8. Kate M

    MN: First – ta for the typo spotting. I appreciate the call-out – otherwise it’s a bit like when you have something on your face and nobody tells you!!

    Second – I agree completely regarding education being free. I had dinner with my cousin this evening, who lectures at a local university, and she was talking about the tremendous pressure on university lecturers to pass all students because they have paid. This means that there is a lot higher pass rate than when university degrees were free. People who were previously borderline, and may have failed, are still borderline – but now they pass. That has to lower the quality of the degrees that people end up getting. And that’s not good for any of us.

  9. Matters Not

    Kate M, you possibly noticed my error in the last line of my post as well. I now do. But not then.

    And so it goes.

    As for:

    the tremendous pressure on university lecturers to pass all students because they have paid.

    Indeed! While it’s not a recent development, the pressure increases and does so because of the notion that ‘everything’s now for sale’. If one has the ‘dollars’, then anything is possible including university awards.

    That concept can be generalised to the current government’s mantra re ‘open for business’, manifest in the notion ‘that this government is the best that money can buy’.

    At a deeper and perhaps more significant level, is that while those with the dollars have paid much, the evidence suggests the ‘government’ delivers neither ‘outcomes’ nor ‘compliance’. My worry is that they will simply change the driver.

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