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A little less Lucy in our lives

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.

 

20 comments

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  1. Paolo Soprani

    I guess.

  2. David

    If it wasn’t Abbott hiding his, Turnbull displays his like a prize exhibit at a Royal Show (leave the category to your imagination)

  3. John Knight

    I am not a Liberal party supporter, but I am happy that Lucy Turnbull is involved, and that Malcolm is open and transparent about this. Lucy is experienced, having been Lord Mayor of Sydney, and I respect her political judgement. Most observers (even back when Malcolm was a Rhodes scholar in Oxford) believe that Malcolm is improved by her influence.

    Margie Abbott, originally a New Zealander, chose not to be involved in politics. Peta Credlin claimed (correctly) to be the power behind the throne, without whom Tony would never have become Prime Minister.

    During the Howard government it was well known in Canberra that Janette Howard played a strong behind the scenes role and had effective power of veto over senior appointments. It is much better that Lucy Turnbull’s involvement is open and acknowledged.

  4. David

    Mr Knight your loyalty to and commendation of Mrs Turnbull would be music to the ears of her husband. but, if you are not a LP supporter and it would be a fair bet you do not support the ALP…the field is somewhat narrowed. Mmm ‘Ah Sweet Mystery of Life’.

  5. Kaye Lee

    My concern is that Lucy may be using a taxpayer funded trip, and her position, to promote her business concerns. There’s a lot of quid pro quo available. Have you noticed that recent talks about the submarines have drifted towards Germany?

  6. Judes

    Neither the fabulous Turnbull or the delightful Lucy are very open and honest about her involvement as being on the research committee of Transfield… As you quite rightly say Kaye Lee, “many fingers in many pies”… How very lucrative.
    http://www.newdemocracy.com.au/research-committee
    Check out New Democracy …

  7. Sen Nearly Ile

    lucy may be malcolm’s yoko in the sky with diamonds.
    Why are you concerned what she does between official engagements? Our afternoon man announces he wants free trade where ever he wanders.
    It would be amazing if business stopped at networking for either of them?

  8. Kaye Lee

    Very interesting Judes. I was unaware of Lucy Turnbull’s connection with Luca Belgiorno-Nettis. That explains a lot about Malcolm’s reaction to the artists who chose to boycott the Bienalle. Intellectual property until you use it to embarrass we philanthropists/capitalists.

  9. kerri

    For someone who famously described John Kerr as ” an unelected ribbon cutter” maybe Malcolm needs reminding none of us voted for Lucy?

  10. David

    As with Howards Mrs, I am understanding who wears the trou in the Turnbull mansions

  11. Michael Peters

    All in preparation for post PM gig – Australian royalty!

  12. Loz

    Wouldn’t you think this couple had enough going on in their lives without wanting the trophy of PM and wife.

  13. David

    Outdoing the Mr and Mrs Rudds?

  14. Lee

    I’d much rather listen to Lucy Turnbull than have Margie Abbott bleating to the electorate what a good, honest man Tony Abbott is. On the few occasions I’ve heard her speak, Lucy has been one of the few conservatives who actually sounds intelligent and sensible. I don’t like conservative politics but she interviews well.

  15. mars08

    @Lee… your comment sparked something in my mind.

    Now I am beginning to wonder… was that the idea all along? Bluff the electorate into voting for someone so loathsome, so dire, so relentlessly stupid, so arrogant, so offensive… that any other conservative would be acceptable by comparison. And thereby establish a Coalition dynasty.

  16. Lee

    I doubt it Mars. The Turnbulls both possess a filter between their brains and mouths, unlike several Liberal politicians. It makes them quite dangerous to progressives. Lucy is quite good at dodging questions and telling the average voter what they want to hear. I cannot think of any other senior Liberal who would have the approval rating of Malcolm Turnbull. I also know some longterm progressives who are being sucked in by Malcolm’s rhetoric, people who I never thought would fall for it. He’s a real worry for progressives.

  17. mars08

    Of course you’re right, Lee. Sometis just really hard to understand how an abomination like Abbott could just… happen.

  18. Lee

    That one has me puzzled too.

  19. Kaye Lee

    Whilst I concede that Malcolm and Lucy present better than Tony and Margie, I am still rather concerned about those 20 million shares (and that is only one company that has close ties to Germany).

    Insider trading is the trading of a public company’s stock or other securities (such as bonds or stock options) by individuals with access to nonpublic information about the company.

    How do politicians (and their spouses) who are actively trading vast share portfolios avoid conflict of interest (or insider knowledge) when deciding on policy? If you own a very large slice of a private medical research firm, should you be making decisions about medical research funding? Is it ethical for you to be promoting closer business ties when they could potentially earn you a personal fortune?

  20. Lee

    I suspect most politicians have a conflict of interest between their business interests and their political life.

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