Christopher Pyne has gone. No-one should have been surprised, as the project that had been worked on by him, Julie Bishop and Malcolm Turnbull has been an almost total failure. That project – to take the Liberal Party back to the version before the current mutated version created by John Howard.
Annabel Crabb’s piece on Pyne was the most revealing – her light touch matching well with the light touch Pyne liked to think he applied to politics. In amongst that light touch, though, were some stabbing zingers. The biggest one – served to John Howard upon Pyne’s arrival in Canberra after the 1993 election.
“You’ve had your time. We’ll never go back to you,” was the youthful Mr Pyne’s confident and career-limiting response.
This gives us a clue to the project that Pyne, along with another person spurned by Howard, Julie Bishop and Malcolm Turnbull, had been assiduously working on. To Fix the Liberal Party, to turf out the influences woven into the party by Howard in his years at the helm of the party. To battle against the mendacious hard right reactionary moral vacuums like Minchin, Ciobo, Dutton, Morrison, Hunt and Abbott.
But, honestly, little has been fixed. They are the Unfixers. Their trajectories have been so flat, their achievements in reforming the Liberal Party so meagre, it’s as if The Thick Of It‘s Armando Iannucci has written the script of their parliamentary lives. This image from Crabb’s article, by Lukas Coch, summarises so neatly their times and demise.
This is not to say they did not achieve anything at all – there’s been comment made about achievements made here and there – Headspace being one – these can be easily outweighed with the many examples where their policies have been replaced or defeated by reactionary ones put in place by the hard right Sons of Howard.
Ultimately, though, despite all of Pyne’s work at deception, whispers and plots – being the underside of the duck – while Bishop and Turnbull would attempt to show themselves as gliding effortlessly above the water, what is the legacy of these three?
It’s the photos. It’s only the photos. Like this one by Alex Ellinghausen.
And this one.