When Malcolm Turnbull joined Angela Merkel addressing the media in Berlin last week, he praised the work of the Australia-Germany Advisory Group and presented a report written by them with the focus of forging closer economic, security and social ties with Europe’s largest economy.
He thanked a few specific people, praising their work and ending with, “and not least, mein liebe frau Lucy.”
Lucy was front and almost centre on stage, despite there being no other spouses present. She smiled humbly as her husband heaped praise on his dear wife.
A quick look at the Turnbulls’ registrable interests shows, under conflict of interest, that Lucy is a member of the Australia-Germany Advisory Group and Honorary President of the Australian-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
It is interesting to remember that, when Dr Merkel visited Australia for the G20 summit, Turnbull embarrassed Abbott by accompanying her on a visit to Australia’s national information technology research flagship, NICTA, who had had its funding stripped by Tony Abbott. Turnbull is reinstating the funding in his Innovation Statement.
Lucy is also listed as Chairman of Prima BioMed Limited.
According to its website, Prima BioMed is a globally active biotechnology company that is striving to become a leader in the development of immunotherapeutic products for the treatment of cancer. Prima BioMed is dedicated to leveraging its technology and expertise to bring innovative treatment options to market for patients and to maximize value to shareholders.
In December 2014, Lucy Turnbull was interviewed about Prima Biomed on The Business. She speaks about the future of biotechnology, the company’s expansion into, and reliance on, France and Germany, and the importance of giving better tax treatment to employee stock options. As Tiki Fullerton pointed out, Lucy has 20 million shares in the company.
Coincidentally, Prima BioMed are giving a presentation at a meeting of experts from a variety of established and emerging pharma companies to be held at Bad Homburg in Germany from 16 to 18 November.
Reading through the Turnbull’s eye-watering list of investments is beyond my attention span but even a cursory glance shows that any discussion of changing tax concessions for capital gains or negative gearing would significantly affect the Turnbulls as would changes to the way their self-managed superannuation fund and family trusts are treated. Land tax would also hit them hard as they own many properties.
They have numerous private companies and shareholdings in both listed and unlisted companies, so decreases in company tax would no doubt be welcome.
Malcolm has assured us that he pays tax on any income he receives from his various investments in offshore funds. What he wants you to ignore is that the companies are avoiding paying company tax which has to help profit and hence the dividends they pay.
Considering their vast holdings and various positions as company directors, it is hard to find many areas where the Turnbulls would not have a conflict of interest in discussions about trade or taxation or concessions or grants.
Lucy Turnbull has a great deal of experience in the areas of business and politics. She has fingers in many pies and it is understandable that Malcolm consults with her and respects her opinion.
But perhaps she would do better to take a lower public profile when the real politicians are doing their stuff. I fear we may all be wishing for a little less Lucy in our lives before this ride is over.