Speakers Profile - The Hon Christopher Pyne

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Christopher Pyne was the Australian Minister for Defence responsible for delivering the $200 billion build-up of Australia’s military capability, the largest in Australia’s peacetime history.

As Minister for Defence or Defence Industry from 2016 to 2019, Christopher was responsible for implementing the Integrated Investment Program and the 2016
Defence White Paper.

During this time he awarded the $35 billion Hunter Class Anti Submarine Warfare frigates contract to BAES; stood up the $50 billion Attack Class Submarine project by Defence and Naval Group Australia; awarded the $3.7 billion Arafura Class Offshore Patrol Vessel project to Luerssen Australia, CIVMEC and the ASC; awarded the $5.2 billion Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle project to Rheinmettal Australia and secured Australia as the Asia Pacific hub for the sustainment and maintenance of the F35-A Joint Strike Fighter. He initiated Government support for the “Loyal Wingman” – the first attempt to design and build a fighter aircraft from scratch in Australia since the 1960s.

In his three years as a Cabinet Minister in the Defence portfolio he created and implemented the Defence Export Strategy; the Defence Industrial Capability Plan and the Naval Shipbuilding Plan.
Christopher delivered the outcomes of the Defence Industry Policy Statement by creating the Defence Cooperative Research Centre, the Centre for Defence Industry Capability, the Defence Innovation Hub and the Next Generation Technology Fund.

He was responsible for creating the Pacific Step Up to strengthen Australia’s strategic role in the South Pacific in 2018.
He articulated the Morrison Government policy that became the Australian Government’s position that Jerusalem will be the capital of Israel and East Jerusalem the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Christopher helped found the Australia France Initiative (Afiniti) to take advantage of the closer relationship with France due to the Attack Class Submarine Project.
He settled Defence or Defence Industry Memoranda of Understanding with Israel; China and Switzerland and initiated Defence or Defence Industry Memoranda of Understanding with the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Christopher was the driving force behind the establishment of the Australia Space Agency.

Christopher was a Minister across the Howard, Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison Governments serving as Minister for Ageing; Minister for Education and Training, and Minister for Industry Innovation and Science, in addition to his roles in the Defence portfolio.

In his time as a Minister he has delivered the National Innovation and Science Agenda, reformed the National Curriculum, introduced compulsory literacy and numeracy testing for Australian teaching graduates and expanded phonics teaching. He twice attempted to introduce market based reforms to the Higher Education sector but was thwarted by the Australian Senate.

In 2006 he founded “headspace: the Youth Mental Health Initiative”.
For six years (2013-2019), Christopher was Leader of the House of Representatives and for four years before that, Manager of Opposition Business in the House. He was a member of the Coalition and Liberal Party Leadership Groups for ten years.

Christopher Pyne served for twenty six years in the Australian House of Representatives for the seat of Sturt in South Australia, to which he was elected nine times. He was first elected in 1993 at the age of twenty five and served until his retirement in 2019. He was the longest serving non-Labor Member of the House of Representatives from the State of South Australia since Federation in 1901.

Christopher has been included three times in the Australian Financial Review Power List.

He is the author of “A Letter to my Children”, published in 2015 by Melbourne University Press.
Before entering Parliament, Christopher practised as a solicitor.