The Education of Christopher Pyne – Maths and other related subjects.

The Education of Christopher Pyne – Maths and other related subjects.

The member for Sturt, the Honourable Christopher Pyne, is the Education Minister in the Abbott Government.

He was also Leader of the House and Shadow Education minister in the Abbott Opposition.

My memories of him in Parliament were many and all of them were disappointing. He was the serial pest. Bouncing to his feet and making many and varied points of order. I lost count of the times that he was kicked out of the Parliament under Standing order 94a.

Once, he and Tony Abbott tried to run out of the Parliament so that they would not have to accept the “tainted” vote of the member for Dobell, Craig Thomson.

Education point one Christopher – History, the Law, how it is made and applied.

Christopher, please repeat after me that the Australian system of law deems everyone is innocent until they are proven guilty. Such guilt is determined by a properly constituted Court of Law and the well established procedures they follow.

The Judiciary are separate from the executive arm of Government and so cannot be bullied, persuaded or otherwise cajoled to make decisions which do not follow the law.

So your’s and Tony Abbott’s accusations about Craig Thomson were particularly nasty and were just political point scoring in the extreme.

I would like you to know that you sit in the Parliament of Australia where, as one of two chambers you actually vote on legislation which becomes law. Many of the bills which pass through the Parliament actually contain offences and sanctions including fines and lengths of imprisonment for transgressions to these offences. That is the responsibility of the Judiciary.

Just in case you didn’t know, the Magistrates Court is the lower court. They hear cases against those Acts of Parliament your colleagues and you have passed. Worse offences are dealt with by the Federal Court system, in front of a judge (the bloke who wears the wig), and if there is any argument there is a procedure whereby the highest Court of the Land, known as the High Court can adjudicate on the actual meaning of the law. In other words when the law is framed and is unclear they actually interpret what it really means.

I am a bit unclear as to why you don’t know this, because your CV says that you passed a Law degree.

So you really should have left the prosecution of Craig Thomson to the judicial system. We don’t have kangaroo courts in Australia.

Education Point Number two – the use of Maths in argument: example one

I was a bit confused after the 2010 election because you seemed to have pretty well got the ideas about maths pretty wrong. In fact the next two Education points are about this as well.

Many times on the national television system you told the ABC commentators that the Coalition got more votes and more seats, than the Labor Party and therefore your side of Politics should have formed Government.

I actually looked up the two party preferred vote, which just in case you didn’t know is recorded in the Australian Electoral Commission, on the Internet which Malcolm Turnbull, your colleague, is claimed to have virtually invented by the now Prime Minister, Tony Abbott. In fact this is not the case. Turnbull was actually and variously a Lawyer, a merchant banker and erstwhile businessman.

Having worked in the telecommunications industry for a few years I can tell you he has no idea about what telecommunications actually is/are.

However, I digress – back to the AEC. The link below gives the declared (Final) result of the two party preferred votes.

I will spell it out for you as you repeated the mathematical mistake so many times. You were under the delusion that the Coalition “got” more votes than the Labor Party.

The Labor Party ‘got’ 6,216,445 votes. In the English language that is six million two hundred and sixteen thousand four hundred and forty five votes. The Coalition ‘got’ 6,185,918 votes. In the English language that is six million one hundred and eighty five thousand nine hundred and eighteen votes.

Now listen carefully Christopher, if you take the larger figure, (Labor’s vote) from the smaller figure (the Coalition vote) there is a difference of 30,527 votes. In English for you that is thirty thousand, five hundred and twenty seven more votes than the Coalition.

Christopher, if you are finding this a bit rough to understand, I am sure that there are people in Parliament who can help you. I am sure the AEC would be pleased to help and there is also that department where they do numbers, the Treasury and the Department of Finance.

Steer clear of Barnaby Joyce though, I heard him tell Tony Jones the same business on QandA and even though I wrote an email to Tony he allowed Barnaby to tell the same mathematical mistake several times.

In fact the ABC generally are pretty poor at maths as well, because they didn’t pick up on you guys running your line.

The other person I would give a wide berth to is Joe Hockey. I hear that he has a custom calculator made in some country where they multiply everything by Eleventy.

I don’t know why they put him in charge of Treasury. That involves a fair amount of addition, subtraction and multiplication and a subject you also have trouble with is percentages.

He seems to have made a few mistakes adding up on your last bodget, sorry, budget figures in 2010. I hope he’s been to school since then. We will see in May next year.

Yes, and the more seats were wrong too. The Australian Electoral commission showed that you ‘got’ exactly the same numbers.

Here is the proof.

The Labor party ‘got’ 72 seats and the formal coalition ‘got’ Liberal Party 44, Liberal National Party of Queensland 21, The Nationals 7, 44 plus 21 plus 7 is 72.

You could not count the Country National member or any of the Independents because you were not in Coalition with those elected members.

With this one, stay away from Barnaby, Joe and Tony, because they got the wrong answer too.

Education point two – The use of Maths in argument (example two) supplemented with a bit on reading the detail.

Christopher, remember the Gonski report? You should do – you called it the ‘Conski’ report and I seem to remember you laughed at your own joke. That’s poor form old chap, it’s just not done, especially when everyone else doesn’t think its funny.

I remember you stood outside a Catholic school in your electorate of Sturt next to Tony Abbott. I remember you said that the cost of Gonski for the next 12 years would be $113 Billion.

I hate to tell you this Chris old mate, but based on the report that wasn’t the case at all.

Firstly, you have to read the report.

David Gonski did do a model, which you took your argument from but I have to tell you, it wasn’t a recommendation or a finding. I am not going to chastise you too much on this because a lot of the journalists got that wrong as well. They have a bit of a problem reading detail like you.

The key figure of the model was a figure of $5 billion at 2009 figures, compounded each year by 6%.

You suggested outside St Pius’s school that the Labor Government would need $113 billion over the next 12 years.

So if we take 2009 as the base year and extrapolate from 2012 Q1 (when you made the press statement) for the next 12 years we actually get a figure of $100.4618 billion and if you took the calculation from 2013 the actual figure was $106.4896 billion.

So depending when you meant the funding to start from, you made either a $13 billion mistake or a $7 billion one.

In fact your basic maths are completely incorrect and I have to fail you on that.

I also have to deduct marks for not reading the assembled information correctly.

Surely you know that the general funding of Public schools is a State responsibility and David Gonski mentioned this down the page a bit. The split of funding between the Government and State is split at 70% State and 30% Federal. So if that model continued to be followed then your calculation is grossly incorrect, as 30% of $100 billion is actually $30 billion and of $106 billion is $31.6 billion.

So your calculation at that early stage of the political discussion on school funding was about $70 billion out (over 12 years).

Education point three – The use of Maths in argument (example two) percentages and secrets.

Even though you are not the sharpest knife in the drawer regarding maths, I am glad to see that the utter failures you have been doing haven’t deterred you.

I was a bit worried about the company you kept in this example though. Andrew Bolt is a bit of a dunce where it comes to maths. He makes things up and I was disappointed to see you giving him ammunition on Sunday in “the Bolt Report.”

“The number of boat arrivals have dropped by 75% since the coalition was elected” –is what you said.

So let us examine that statement. In the six weeks after the Manus Island, Nauru Policy change by Kevin Rudd there were 26 boats carrying 2,100 people. It was from 27th July to 6th September 2013.

From 7th Sept to 18th October, a comparable six week period after the election there were 21 boat arrivals with 1500 people.

The source of the first number was given by the Labor Rudd Government. The statistics from the second figure were worked out from various reports from interested parties and sometimes backed up by the Morrison military machine briefings. The figure may be more. We don’t really know because it’s a secret.

Here is Archie’s web site which I think is as accurate as it can be, without proper and full disclosure.

However let’s get back to the maths Chris, that’s what we are here for. You said the number of boat arrivals had dropped by 75% since the Government was elected. Well there were 26 boats carrying 2100 people. 25% of these (100-75 =25) is 6.5 boats and 525 people.

We can see that a lot more people and boats have arrived than 6.5 boats and 525 people.

So I have no option to declare that you have been a spectacular failure at the maths thingy again.

On the figures above which are 71.4% of the 2100 people the figures have indeed dropped by 28.6%, but you probably cannot claim that was because of your policy. It may well have been because of Kevin Rudd’s.

As much as it distresses me I have written to your parents and I have also written to the Australian people at large to tell them how bad you are at maths.

I felt that this was necessary because you are so bad at it. The fact that you are also the member of the Government in charge of the education of the population of Australia gives me some qualms as to your suitability for this job.

In fact now I think of it your mob all seem to be a bit light on in the maths department. Reading and comprehension could do with a bit of a smartening up as well. I recommend that you be moved down a couple of years, resign from the job and allow someone (don’t have a clue who) to fill the spot of Education Minister.

Sorry Chris, you just don’t cut it in the adult world of serious stuff, I suggest you go and do an advanced BA and re-enter the student politics again and give it another go. It may be the case that you tried to peak too early.

Come to think of it there are a few of you there like that. Shit, I think we may be in trouble.

Who was it said the Adults are back in charge?


By Vince O'Grady

Vince emigrated to Australia in 1978 from the United Kingdom, where he was a Police Constable in Brierley Hill, on the outskirts of Birmingham in the West Midlands. He saw a great deal of dysfunctional society during his four-and-a-half years’ Police service and realised the necessity of always being truthful, factual and slow to judge others. Deciding to pursue a different career in Australia, he chose telecommunications and has worked in sales, product and marketing management in the public and private sectors. In 1981, he became ill with arthritis and ceased full-time work in 1992, when he became a sessional teacher at TAFE in a number of subjects — mainly related to manufacturing. During the Howard years, he became interested in politics and after “hiding in plain sight” for many years, joined the Labor party in 2010. Vince has many interests, including social justice, inclusion and the good old Australian “fair go” for all. He has policy interests in economics and education. His interest in history shows that we make the same mistakes over and over again and hopes to make a difference to the political debate by clear thinking and analysis rather than by trite sloganeering. In his private life, Vince enjoys woodwork and also is a keen family historian, with a very Irish paternal side and a very French Huguenot maternal side — and is a mixture of a working class and an upper middle class upbringing. He has a Bachelors degree in Business and qualifications in Workplace Training and Assessing. He is also a keen home brewer of fine ales — at least according to his son!


  1. Well said Vince. Looking forward to Wednesdays QT. Hope Bill & the rest of his front bench can serve it up to TA & his mob & give as good as they were subject to when they were in power.
    We have all witnessed so far just how incompetent they are & they will not get any better I fear.

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