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Day to Day Politics: Just who is Malcolm Turnbull?

Sunday 1 May 2016

In December 2014 The Saturday Paper said this of Turnbull:

“He has worked up a lovely public persona: as cultured as Keating but blessed with a kinder sense of humour; as intelligent as Rudd but far from as malevolent. And somehow, with his green-froth-drinking diet success and his endearing leather jackets and business shirts, his Stephen Fry-like adoration of gadgets and mastery of social media, his raffish smile and mellifluous voice, he has formed the perfect personality for most popular, and probably most trusted, politician in the nation”.

Born 24 October 1954 Malcolm Bligh Turnbull was educated at Sydney Grammar School and the University of Sydney where he graduated with a Batchelor of Arts and Batchelor of Laws. Later he obtained, as a Rhodes Scholar, a Batchelor of Civil Law from Oxford.

He has worked as a journalist and has been extraordinarily successful in many businesses including his own law firm and his success in the Spy Catcher trial is well-known. He established a merchant banking company with Whitlam’s son Nick. Later he became a partner with Goldman Sachs.

He became chair of Internet Service Provider OzEmail and later sold the company for an enormous sum at the height of the tech boom. In the 1990s, Turnbull was chairman of Axiom Forest Resources, which conducted logging, with a dubious record, in the Solomon Islands.

In 2008 as the Member for Wentworth he was elected leader of the Liberal Party. In December 2009 he lost the leadership to Tony Abbott by one vote with two of his own supporters absent.

He is also well-known for his work with the Australian Republican Movement and was its delegate at the convention. He later wrote a book on his experiences in which he described the then PM Howard as having broken Australia’s heart. Having worked on the referendum myself, I concurred.

He married Lucy Hughes in 1980. Their two children, Alex and Daisy attended local schools and have now completed University.

Lucy and Malcolm have been partners not only in marriage but also in their many businesses. Lucy was the first female Lord Mayor of Sydney, a position she held until early 2004.

He is related to the famous actress Anglia Lansbury. Contrary to popular thought he is not a descendent of Captain Bligh of Mutiny on the Bounty fame but is a forebear of John Turnbull who was a supporter of Bligh’s during the Rum Rebellion. It became a tradition for sons of Turnbulls to take the middle name Bligh. Malcolm’s son likewise has ”Bligh” for his middle name.

His personal fortune is estimated in excess of $200 million.

Undoubtedly he is a man, like Rudd, of prodigious intellect and charismatic personality who carries his superiority as an example for others to admire. Like Rudd and despite the veneer of public self-assuredness he is hated within his own party.

The National Party are on the record as saying they couldn’t work with him, such is their detestation.

Again like Rudd he has frequent displays of bad temper. Nick Whitlam said he was a “prick”. He doesn’t suffer fools and he lets them know it. He is a silver tongue, smooth urbane and charming. One of his colleagues jokingly said but he carries a knife with him at all times.

He is also known to be generous with his cash and readily splashes it around if he considers a cause worthy.

It was well-known that he would storm into the office of Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson and hurl abuse at him because he felt he wasn’t performing adequately.

So behind the public persona of the, mannerly articulate, polished Q&A debonair performances, there lurks the other person. The political animal who is just as ruthless as Abbott.

Let’s not forget that as an Opposition Leader last time around Turnbull was an abject failure. His polls as preferred prime minister were a disaster and he made a fool of himself over the Godwin Grench affair.

Turnbull is undoubtedly our richest ever politician. He is an avid negative gearer with a portfolio of properties and even mysterious investments in the Cayman Islands. He has so much blue ribbon Point Piper class that he reeks of conservatism. He likes to cultivate an image of a hard upbringing that totality belies the truth. Sure he was raised by his father but it wasn’t the ‘log cabin’ existence he portrays.

He was a border at Sydney Grammar School and was still at university when he purchased his first investment property. When he was 27 he inherited from his Dad a Sydney flat and an 800 hectare property neighbouring Kerry Packer. The log cabin existence doesn’t stack up.

He often repeats this story of his upbringing of destitution, but how many 27 year olds start life at his level? It doesn’t gel with his insufferable defence of Negative Gearing this week. Trying to convince everyone that its ordinary mum’s and dads who would be disadvantaged by Labor’s policy when it’s the tiny 10% of the privileged upper class like himself who have the wealth to purchase property who gain the most.

In reality it’s the votes of ordinary people who decide the outcome of elections. Normally class isn’t of major importance to Australians, but this election might be different. There has been, because of revelations about widespread tax evasion by individuals and corporations, an uprising of discontent. People never realised the extent of it and indeed that our Prime Minister was of the class who are doing it. That’s not to say that he is a tax evader, but he isn’t doing much to prevent it either.

Who is Malcolm Turnbull? Well he isn’t the same one everyone wanted to replace Tony Abbott.

My thought for the day.

There are those who make money but are never remembered. There are others who do great deeds and are‘.



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  1. June M Bullivant OAM

    In other words he is a man that has a temper, he has a persona that is not very nice, he tells lies or embellishes to achieve his ends and he is a standover merchant. That is not who the people of Australia need to run our country.

  2. Pappinbarra Foc

    But that is who we get just about every time, June. The only one I can recall not like that was Julia, and I don’t really know how she ran her office.

  3. Peter F

    We will not have a decent government in this country until the decision is made by the voters of Australia and not by an american megalomaniac whose mother must be spinning in her grave.

  4. Carol Taylor

    John, I have recently been thinking of this myself. Who indeed is Malcolm Turnbull? When he ousted Abbott as leader but pursued that person’s policies, there were the excuses of ‘having to pander to the far right’. Then the question was: Had Malcolm sold his principles in order to become leader? I am now of the opinion that those principles never existed in the first place.

    Malcolm the moderate, Malcolm the listener, Malcolm where all the cards were to be laid on the table. It was all bullsh*t. Ask yourself, how does a hugely ambitious lawyer/banker make a name for himself? And the answer is: Differentiate oneself from the pack. Be the dissenting voice – support the republic, cross the floor on the issue of gay marriage, stand up and give your own version of the Costello budget, ingratiate yourself with PM Howard, get a reputation as the up and coming true protégé of a moderate middle.

    We are now seeing the real Malcolm. Completely out of touch with anything which is non-corporate, non North Shore – just a slightly slimmer Joe Hockey telling everyone that ‘poor people don’t drive cars’.

  5. Abbie

    Most people like Turnbull do not get to their positions by being “nice”. They are not “successful” (ie have money) by being kind and thoughtful. People like Turnbull rise because of wealth influence ‘friendships’ and fortuitous beginnings.
    People like Rudd come from their positions to rise because and despite their beginnings and a passion and vision to make it better for those doing it hard from similar difficulties.
    Both ambitions require a certain determination..but the motivation/frustration of intellects like Turnbulls and Rudds are shown in human ways.
    Turnbull determined to protect ‘his’ own…Rudd determined to do as much and as quickly for those underdogs before the rich and powerful kicked him as hard as they could. So successful was MSM (ie Murdoch because he refused to play his game) that even the left still spread the negative balderdash instead of looking deeoer into what was attempted and planned against his own memberships narrow understanding.
    Australia is poorer under Turnbull and those who look for vision and a future caring fairer Nation by their vilification of overt passion are probably stopping the next Leader from stepping up.
    Damn Turnbull and his ‘at any cost’ overriding ambition.

  6. Kronomex

    Turnbull is a back stabbing weasel who has always wanted to be Prime Minister either by fair means or foul. This time it’s via the foul method. Now he wants to be legitimate by having the Australian sheep vote him in for the first time so he can continue to destroy the country along with the fanatics in the LNP that he has to suck up to. His corporate mates will be desperate to keep him in so they can keep robbing us blind.

  7. Carol Taylor

    Somewhere along the line the Libs with the help of their msm backers, notably the Murdoch media will start to label anything remotely resembling fairness as ‘class envy’. It seems that it’s ok for the wealthy to engage in multiple tax avoidance methods but woe betide anyone from the wrong side of the tracks to attempt to gain a dollar more in welfare, or indeed point out the unfairness of it all. There are The Lifters and The Leaners, yet the wealthy refuse to acknowledge the massive scale of their own leaning.

  8. wam

    Turnbull has found his level, lord. He is the exception to your thought. He made his money, used it to feign deeds and will be remembered for downing the rabbott and, I hope, for losing twice.
    The first Dec 2009 and the second July 2.

  9. Geoff Andrews

    He’s a lawyer and therefore a mouth for hire. He plays the tune of his paymaster.

  10. SGB

    He is gearing up for an election winning Budget.

    Every time I see that supersilious smile, I check to see where I am bleeding

    Make no mistake the Labor Party is still on the nose with a lot of swinging voters who will be the decider.

  11. Max Gross

    Malcolm Grech. Malcolm Abbott. Snowflake. Souffle. Talcolm. A LIEbral to the core. Vote the bastard OUT!

  12. stephentardrew

    The shyster in chief.

    Certainly knows how to market a lemon.

  13. Graeme Henchel

    Mr. Fraudband ( to the tune of Mr Sandman)

    Mr. Fraudband you’ve screwed our dream
    Made the biggest mess that we’ve ever seen
    You lied with Abbott to get elected
    Made sure that Murdochs pay TV was protected

    Fraud man you’re Abbott’s clone
    Don’t have a vision to call your own
    What you’ve done is quite obscene
    Mr Fraudband you’ve screwed our dream

    Mr Fraudband you’ve screwed our dream
    Made the biggest mess that we’ve ever seen
    We wanted fibre right into the home
    We’ve got a nightmare from the twilight zone

    Mr Fraudband now you’re in charge
    You’ll screw your party and the country at large
    You only care about the top end of town
    You are no better than the clown you took down

    Mr. Fraudband you’ve been exposed
    A snake oil man with political prose
    Your lying makes me want to scream
    Mr. Fraudband screwed us (it’s so exciting)
    Mr. Fraudband screwed up our dream

  14. Florence nee Fedup

    Aren’t most investors normally mums & dads. Is Turnbull insinuating they are all single men?

    Never seemed to stay in any of his endeavours long. Seems to tire and move on. Not always leaving in good faith.

    Malcolm the opportunist?

  15. Florence nee Fedup

    Turnbull is also showing he has little patience with all about him. Not given to worrying about detail as well. Hates being asked questions. It shows.

  16. Anon E Mouse

    No mention of FAI? Turnbull made a lot of money out of a lot of working class people losing money.

    As for Rudd, surely it is time to put the factional shafting and fictional character assassination of Rudd to rest. The ABC showed us, that all was not as it seemed in the Gillard overthrow of Rudd. The right-factioned Labor powerbrokers who engineered that coup, have all showed us who their ‘bosses’ really are – just look at where they went to after politics.

    Just yesterday, I was chatting to a person who spent 20 years living next door the the Rudds. She assured me that they were lovely, no gossip – she said she should write a book about it, but it would be very short and uneventful.

    The Rudd as mad and bad, has been debunked.

    As for Malcolm, surely basic google searches would show how his image is an illusion.

  17. Jack Russell

    Turnball, a true legend in his own lunchbox…

  18. Winston

    Only the conservatives bring up the words Class Warfare when it suits them. And so many Ignorant working class battlers buy into it. We live in strange times. It appears many only follow the loudest,shiny simplistic slogans in our zeitgeist. Labor isn’t perfect though their philosophy at least works towards some form of Egalitarianism. Turnball serves only himself.

  19. bossa

    “Undoubtedly he is a man, like Rudd, of prodigious intellect”. Seriously? Where does this impression come from?

    From what I’ve seen he’s a bumbling twat, who prevaricates over the simplest of questions, and who thinks he’s so special that no evidence need be supplied (apart from his special sensibility) for any policy that bubbles to the surface of his consciousness at whatever moment seems an opportune time to announce it.

    I’m starting to believe that The Candyman (Still haven’t found a strike through text here that allows me to both delete that ‘d’ and ‘y’ and yet still display them) is showing signs of dementia.

    Supreme ego has never been a sign of supreme intellect.

  20. Aortic

    He is certainly following his predecessor in one aspect at least. He obfuscates and prevaricates at every question hoping that waffle will fool the punters either too busy or too swayed by the ethereal fairy floss foiund in the Daily Bellylaugh and the much more “profound” Unaustralian. One can only trust that the patrician PM will have another Godwin Grecher or two and people will be forced to face reality and toss the whole incompetent mob out before we are all rooned.

  21. Matthew Oborne

    Carol has got it in one, his public personality is what he thinks the public like, he made sure to stand out and that was simply a tactic, He has been reported as bullying many people in the past just as he decided to attempt to force the senators rather than compromise.

    He could have a wider scope to investigate corruption had he compromised but this wasnt about corruption it is about union busting.

    You dont become CEO of Goldman Sachs in Australia without being prepared to do just about anything, and a 450 million dollar class action against him and Goldman Sachs shows that

    His push for a republic, seen in the context of trying to become well known makes sense.

    His support of climate change, well at the time he supported it so did over 60 percent of Australians, same for his support of gay marriage.

    He loves public transport…….we does he really, it fits with his common man theme as does his argument with a senior of Goldman sachs in America about the worth of a taxi driver.

    His actions as PM speak louder than what public persona he crafted for himself, and the polls say the same thing. Journalists argue Malcolm will be different if he gets a majority to govern, they also argue we shouldnt ditch a sixth PM in six years, well it isnt six PMs in six years anyway Most people are aware Abbott had a massive role to play in disposing of leaders and himself and the treachery of Newmans government saw payback as he was booted out so we arent fickle. Turnbull has done nothing to deserve another term while the world found the harsh reality of the Panama papers a reason to look at the rich siphoning money out of economies Turnbull has been quiet about financial issues until he had to attempt to stop a Royal commission into Banking.

    Nothing was made of the fact that his former employer Goldman Sachs played a huge part in the GFC, what did Turnbull know?

    Henry Paulson, name sound familiar? He and Turnbull have had a close relationship long after Turnbulls time at Goldman Sachs.

    As Goldman Sachs Australia Turnbull helped push up the tech bubble, Goldman Sachs see money in carbon trading and it is their model that has been adopted for trading perhaps that is his inspiration for climate change.

    There is another way to look at Turnbull, yet few have. He still has ties with Sachs, he still has ties with Paulson, Some of his lefty beliefs can be explained by his ties to Goldman Sachs, It was widely believed at the time when Turnbull was named in that $450 million class action that Sachs may have acted to preserve Turnbulls reputation, preserving Turnbulls reputation would explain the Taxi driver story too.

    There is more to Turnbull than meets they eye

    We might hand someone who is part of the American revolving door system of finance and government the Prime ministership in his own right.

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