Things Christopher Pyne Has Done That Are More Offensive Than (Maybe) Calling Bill Shorten A C*nt
It is rude to call people names. It is ruder to completely dismantle the best and most comprehensive education reforms that Australia has seen in decades.
So Christopher Pyne may or may not have called Bill Shorten a “c*nt” in Question Time.
Twitter’s predictably gone off like a party at Corey Worthington’s house, calling on him to resign and sparking a furious man-on-the-grassy-knoll style debate about whether Pyne dropped the C-bomb or said something more innocuous, like “grub”.
Even Latham had a more inventive vocabulary. Pyne, you are truly a disgrace. #auspol
— Simmo, just Simmo (@SimmojustSimmo) May 15, 2014
We’ve heard higher quality audio: the majority verdict is it’s grub.
— Matthew Knott (@KnottMatthew) May 15, 2014
But while I enjoy a rousing game of C*nt-or-Grub as much as the next guy, Christopher Pyne’s done way more offensive stuff than call someone a bad word.
So as long as he’s trending on Twitter, let’s take a trip through some of Christopher’s more nauseating offerings.
That Time He Dismantled The Best Education Reforms In Australia For Decades
Remember the Gonski reforms package? That exhaustive overhaul of school funding that aimed to make Australian schools the best in the world, and close the widening performance gap between rich and poor kids? The one that spent more than a year visiting over 7,000 schools and was headed by David Gonski, a guy regarded as one of the most powerful and well-connected businesspeople in Australia, and therefore one of the least likely people to half-arse it? The one which was so popular with voters that four state governments agreed to it?
If you don’t remember it, it’s because — in the course of about two weeks last year — Christopher Pyne took a shit on the reforms and set them on fire. Despite promising to continue the Gonski funding model in August last year, Pyne reneged on the deal in December, saying he would keep the funding model the Howard government imposed in 2001 instead — the one that gave disproportionate amounts of money to wealthy private schools. When that blew up in his face, he told the states they could spend the Commonwealth money however they wanted, with no requirements to direct it towards low-SES schools or even keep track of where it was going.
Despite the fact that Pyne clearly put as much thought into this scheme as the time I wore thongs to Soundwave, the government decided to carry on with it regardless. A couple of days ago the Coalition announced it was scrapping Gonski funding from 2018, when two-thirds of the money allocated to public schools was due to start flowing.
While this raises the slightly unpleasant prospect of schools that are teaching the nation’s poorest children running out of money to pay speech therapists, at least they’ll all be able to afford a school chaplain; the budget allocated $245 million to fund that vital service.
That Time He Deregulated Australian University Fees
As part of the “Just Fuck All the Poor People” policy promised at the last election, the government recently announced it would remove caps on course fees and allow universities to charge as much as they liked. Amazingly, as a lot of people pointed out, this almost certainly means students will end up paying far more for their degrees than they currently do; ANU Vice-Chancellor Ian Young predicted universities may start charging over $100,000 for high-demand degrees like Medicine and Law.
Pyne was pretty upbeat about the whole thing, saying that it was part of the government’s grand plan to increase competition, and that “people might be surprised how much effect competition has on reducing prices”. He neglected to mention how universities might act if, say, over $2.3 billion was slashed from the tertiary education budget and they were forced to scramble to find other sources of revenue.
To be fair to Pyne, those cuts were originally announced by Labor and he has publicly criticised them — but since the government’s going ahead with the cuts anyway, presumably he was going to reverse them before being distracted by a bird or something and forgetting about it.
That Time He Was Christopher Pyne All The Time
All of the above is hideous, but none of it distinguishes Pyne from the everyday private-school-prefect-masquerading-as-senior-government-minister wandering the hallways of Parliament House these days. What does sets Pyne apart from the rest of them, though, is that he’s Christopher Pyne.
The same Christopher Pyne who appeared on the cover of Good Weekend with the headline ‘Is This The Most Annoying Man in Australia?’, and then threatened to sue Fairfax over it. The same Christopher Pyne who also threatened to sue the ABC after it published a piece on The Drum awarding him with first place in a “National Unpopularity Contest” — after saying he “wasn’t fussed” by it. The same Christopher Pyne who outpolled Steve Fielding to be crowned Crikey’s Arsehat of the Year in 2010. The same Christopher Pyne who inspired more than a dozen people to smuggle a giant banner into the ABC studios, interrupt a live TV broadcast, and get thrown out by security just to scream at Christopher Pyne for a few minutes.
Lots of politicians are annoying, and “annoying” is a subjective term anyway — but Christopher Pyne is so annoying he can spawn long-form articles in respected political journals solely dedicated to unpicking just how he manages to deal with being Christopher Pyne every day. He’s the Kyle Sandilands of politics.
If Bill Shorten were to get up in Question Time tomorrow and declare “I will not be lectured on being a cunt by this man, I will not,” the people would rise up to make him their rightful king and Ned Stark would come back to life to shake his hand.
Barring that from happening, here’s a handy guide on how you can cover Christopher Pyne in bees.
UPDATE May 16: That Time He Killed Parliamentary Buzz
Video has emerged of Christopher Pyne apparently directing Speaker Bronwyn Bishop to cut off the applause that broke out in Parliament’s public gallery at the end of Bill Shorten’s now-famous budget reply speech.
Watch here and decide for yourself:
Alex McKinnon is a Sydney-based writer and journalist, and former editor of The Star Observer.