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The Phobos and Deimos of Aust cabinet

AAP logoAAP 22/10/2016 Katina Curtis

Payne and Pyne, the defence double act, are housemates, twin ministers and now, apparently, mythical horses.

They're in charge of an area dominated by ranks and hierarchy but the federal government has been less than clear over the question of which is more senior, Defence Minister Marise Payne or Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne.

Both are cabinet ministers and Defence secretary Dennis Richardson says while he knows what each is in charge of, he's never been told who is the more senior.

Their junior minister, Dan Tehan, suggested Senator Payne was more senior in the portfolio while Mr Pyne, who's also Leader of the House, was more senior in the government.

But Mr Pyne insisted on Sunday he and his long-time friend were "equally senior to each other".

"We are like Phobos and Deimos, the two horses that draw the chariot of Mars," he told ABC TV.

"We are as equal as each other. No one is more senior but the sum is greater than the parts."

He may want to rethink that one.

In mythology, the pair did draw the chariot of Ares (Mars), the god of war, but they were also the spirits of fear, specifically personifying dread and terror.

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