Minister for Industry Christopher Pyne speaks National Press Club in Canberra on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015.
Minister for Industry Christopher Pyne speaks National Press Club in Canberra on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015. AAP Image - Mick Tsikas

Pyne faces investigation over undermining claim

FORMER premier John Olsen could cast the deciding vote on a push to investigate Defence Industries Minister Christopher Pyne over allegations he tried to undermine the election of another Liberal MP.

The party's state executive may consider a request to investigate whether Mr Pyne asked Wattle Range Mayor Peter Gandolfi to run as an independent in Barker against conservative Tony Pasin.

Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne in Parliament during question time. Picture: Stefan Postles/Getty
Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne in Parliament during question time. Picture: Stefan Postles/Getty

Mr Pyne has denied the allegations.

Mr Pyne's interstate enemies appear to behind the recent public mud-slinging. Amid talk of an upcoming ministerial reshuffle, The Advertiser was told that the Prime Minister could consider it a "warning shot" to ensure Mr Pyne was not promoted.

Senior SA Liberal sources in both moderate and conservative factions have expressed frustration that what they consider to be a largely federal issue has the potential to cause unnecessary bloodshed before the March state election.

State director Sacha Meldrum can deal with the issue and is believed to be inclined to put the complaint aside.

But The Advertiser understands conservatives on the state executive - which will meet this month - could demand a vote out of a sense of obligation to take the issue seriously.

The 11-member executive has five solid moderates, including Mr Pyne, and five right-wingers. Assuming the vote follows factional lines, it would give Mr Olsen, who took over as state president this year, the deciding vote. Mr Olsen did not return calls.

Mr Olsen in July helped replace right-winger Michael van Dissel as party treasurer with lawyer John Kain, a friend of Mr Pyne.

Barker Federal Electorate Convention president Stuart Andrew, who made the complaint, said it would be "disrespectful" if the state executive did not investigate. But he said "we're not after blood".

Education Minister Simon Birmingham said there was no confirmation of an investigation.

This year Mr Pyne inflamed factional tensions when audio leaked of him telling allies they had claimed dominance over the party's right wing.

Last week The Australian revealed allegations that he had threatened Boothby MP Nicolle Flint, a factional rival, he would run in her seat if a chunk of his seat was redistributed. He has denied the claim.



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