The Insider starring Christopher Pyne

Christopher Pyne: Former Minister for Defence, the ultimate insider

Malcolm Turnbull in his biography A Bigger Picture describes Christopher Pyne as ‘a superb raconteur’ but ‘the soul of indiscretion’ when it comes to gossip. Pyne’s memoir confirms both these traits.

The scoops, the scandals and
the serious business within the Canberra bubble

By Christopher Pyne

This is a fast-paced political memoir covering the 26 years of Christopher Pyne’s federal parliamentary career in Australia, including the recent turbulence of leadership coups and Machiavellian manoeuvrings.

For readers with a strong interest in the current Australian Defence scene, his musings on his time, firstly, as Defence Industry Minister, and then Defence Minister will be of considerable interest.

He writes enthusiastically of the development of the Centre for Defence Industry Capability (CDIC), which he insisted be headquartered in Adelaide, the Defence Innovation Hub (with regular grant announcements, something which continues to this day) and the Naval Shipbuilding Plan, including his unsuccessful attempt to put forward a name (not his own name, in case you were wondering) for the new submarine class. He offers his insights into the unsuccessful Japanese bid for the new Australian submarine contract, which had been the preferred Tony Abbott option. It was subsequently awarded to the French bid over strong contender Germany.

(Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, in his biography, fleshes out the details of how he was left, as the new Prime Minister, to deal with the fallout of Tony Abbott’s misguided foray into Defence contracting.)

Pyne heaps praise on Defence as ‘collaborative, supportive, encouraging and responsive’ dismantling the myth of an always tense relationship between minister and department.

So why did his political career end when it did?

He is quite frank in his acknowledgement of his ambition – to be prime minister – and equally honest in his assessment of his chances, realising, finally, that coming from a small state and from the moderate wing of the Liberal Party rendered his ultimate ambition unattainable.

For anyone interested in contemporary Australian politics, this book, replete with Pyne’s trademark wit, invites us to look inside the Canberra bubble. It’s a rare insight into how the Canberra bubble really operates.


The scoops, the scandals and the serious business within the Canberra bubble
By Christopher Pyne
Published by Hachette
RRP $34.99 in paperback | ISBN 9780733643422

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Christopher Pyne was Australian Defence Industry Minister and later Defence Minister in the years July 2016 – May 2019. He was the member for Sturt, South Australia, in the House of Representatives from March 1993 – April 2019, representing the Liberal Party of Australia.

NOTE: My wife and I had the honour of meeting him during our days managing Australian Defence Magazine. He was a regular conference speaker and enthusiastic networker at our functions. He was charming, engaged and knowledgeable.


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